Based in Salt Lake City by way of Barcelona, Mayte Mata-Sivera, PMP, is truly a global project and program manager, speaking several languages and leading efforts in Europe, Asia, North America and South America. She believes in challenging, empowering and trusting her teams.
Mayte, how did you get into project management? After six hard years at Chemical Engineering School in Valencia, Spain, and a week before my graduation, one of the Big 5 technology firms offered me an internship plus free tuition for an SAP course. I struggled for days about accepting the offer. I was not very tech savvy, but thanks to my mentors and coach in the company I learned not only technical skills but also leadership skills that I continue to use and develop today.I realized that my passion is being a great project manager. After 13 years in tech, I have moved to the business side, and I’m leading strategic and operations projects now.
What do you love most about the work? There are some myths about project management. It’s not only spending the day in front of the computer sending mails with due dates. It is also engagement, communication and leadership! I try to be someone who inspires the team, someone who creates more leaders and more project managers.
What do you find most challenging or frustrating? Each project is a different challenge, and I need to feel challenged and empowered to be creative. If I don’t feel challenged in my work, I get bored. I need to be learning something new constantly, from the project and from the team.
Does your approach change depending on the country you’re working in? Cultural differences matter, communications needs and gestures are different. I always recommend learning something about the culture of the team and country that you are working in—even a few words such as “hi” or “thank you” in the native language. If you show interest in the culture and people, you will win over your team.
What's your proudest professional achievement? Any project that challenged me and my team, and anytime that we delivered value and benefits due to a project implementation.
What's the best piece of advice you've received or can share? Take care of your team. It doesn’t matter if you are their functional manager or not—challenge them, empower them and trust them.
How has ProjectManagement.com helped you in your work and career? I joined before getting my PMP certification, and after a few months I realized that this is an amazing community where I found mentors and friends. People helped me and I was able to give back to the community, too.
Hometown? I was born and raised in Xàbia, a town in the East Coast of Spain.
What interests or hobbies do you have outside your day-to-day work? I’m a co-organizer of the TEDxSaltLakeCity event. I really enjoy learning from the speakers, building a diverse community, and sharing ideas worth spreading. I also love to spend time diving and snorkeling, though I can’t do that here. I really miss the ocean, so I try to travel to California when I can for a weekend break.
Favorite TV show, artist or movie? I don’t really have a lot of time to see the TV; however, I’m a fan of the Star Warsmovies.
Best vacation? If you asked me four years ago, it would be any country where I’ve backpacked—India, China, Vietnam—or the European cities that I have discovered. I define myself as a traveler, not a tourist. Now that I’m living in the United States, the best vacations are those few weeks or days when I can travel back to Spain and share quality time with family and friends.
Thank you Mayte!
To connect with Mayte, visit her ProjectManagement.com profile.
Our new Ambassadors Program is driven by a special group of community members—people like agile coach and management consultant Andrew Craig, PMP, who helps other members discover all that ProjectManagement.com offers, from discussions to downloads, and all the dynamic content in between.
Andrew, how did you get into project management? Long ago I managed coffee shops then retail electronic stores. I really became a people person—came out of my shell so to speak. But then 2008 happened. I completely reinvented myself and moved into the technical realm. I started out with help desk/tech analyst, moving to developer—all while recognizing that at some point, a career utilizing my management-leadership-people skills, along with my technical skills, could be very conducive as a business analyst or project manager. From developer I moved to product analyst with a large healthcare firm. From there, I moved on to a business analyst role, then transitioned to project management, both within financial services and consulting.
My journey to Agile actually started while I was a product analyst. I just had not realized at the time the impact it had on me. As a project manager, I began to question the ways in which we were doing work, asking if there were better ways, asking how we could be more inclusive and work in smaller batches for regular feedback. From there the rest is history!
What do you love most about the work? I love helping others to understand what it is that they want and helping them to get there. I love building relationships and trust. I love to see others get to that “Aha!” moment and flourish with a new sense of understanding and confidence.
What do you find most challenging or frustrating? Being constrained by bureaucracy or a luddite for working differently. Just because that is how it was done, does not equate to how it should be done. We should always challenge ourselves to think about things from different perspectives.
What's your proudest professional achievement? Anytime I see or hear that I have made a positive impact on someone else’s career, confidence, ability to perform—that is such an amazing and rewarding feeling. I so love what I do but recognize the impact I can have on others and the expectations of me and my role.
What's the best piece of advice you've received or can share? Always do the right thing, even if it’s hard to do, and understand that the right thing will not always make everyone happy—the right path is sometimes the rocky path.
How has ProjectManagement.com helped you? I became active here at PM.com in 2016 after earning my PMP. I had been very active on Linux communities prior and felt like it was time to push myself out of my comfort zone and begin contributing professionally here. It has been a great five years.
And you’ve made more than 7,600 contributions! Wow! PM.com has helped me to recognize my strengths and new opportunities for growth, to become more confident in what I can contribute, and how those contributions can be recognized and impactful to others. Meeting people at the PMI Global Conference this past year that were influenced by my contributions was mind-blowing. Those times are priceless.
What interests or hobbies do you have outside work? For a long time I was a Linux geek. Heavily involved in communities. I’ve since moved on and have solely focused on my professional life and family. I was heavy into mountain bike racing but have transitioned to trail running. Less logistics and time consuming. Nothing beats running or riding through the woods.
What about a favorite TV show, artist or movie? A favorite movie is hard, but I have lots of shows: The Wire, Ozarks, Stranger Things, The Expanse, Money Heist, Hunters—you get the picture.
Best vacation? We stay local for vacations. Our favorite place is Maine. We drive up with the kids and dogs. That’s a whole other story! We also love the Poconos right here in Pennsylvania.
Thanks you Andrew!
To connect with Andrew, visit his ProjectManagement.com profile.
Let’s Meet Emily Luijbregts…
Categories: career development
Our new Ambassadors Program is driven by a special group of community members who help fellow members discover all that ProjectManagement.com has to offer, from conversations to content. One of our first Ambassadors is Emily Luijbregts, a project manager at Siemens Digital Industries Software.
Emily, how did you get into project management? I started my career in project management. My first job was working in a PMO and it has built from there. I was very lucky to be able to work with and learn from the most amazing project managers early in my career to guide me.
What do you love most about the work? Every project is different and a challenge. That means there’s no opportunity for complacency or getting stuck in a rut as there’s always a way to test your skills or knowledge. I really like the diversity of the projects that I work in and being surrounded by like-minded individuals.
What do you find most challenging or frustrating? I think it is people misunderstanding the role of a project manager and expecting me to come in with a magic wand and resolve all of their problems—whether they are project related or not! Managing those expectations can be really challenging.
What's your proudest professional achievement? It would be speaking at the PMI EMEA Conference and being able to share knowledge with my peers. From a project perspective, it would be turning around a high-profile, at-risk project from red to green within six months.
What's the best piece of advice you've received or can share? Do not underestimate the power of listening, and try to listen more than you speak at the start of any project or engagement. For me, being an active listener is so important for me being able to perform my role and support my team.
How has ProjectManagement.com helped you? ProjectManagement.com has been a real lifeline for me. Due to the projects and locations I’ve worked, PMI chapters were never really an option for me, so I turned to the online community to get support, advice and learn from my peers. Now that I’m more experienced, I try to give back to the community that has given me so much and support others in their journeys as project managers.
What’s your hometown and where are you based now? I’m originally from a small town outside of London, but I now live and work in the Netherlands.
What interests or hobbies do you have outside work? I love photography and running. I’ve run over 100 marathons and like to run with my two Siberian Huskies.
Favorite TV show, artist and movie? The TV show Grey’s Anatomy, the movie Shawshank Redemption, and the rock band Queen.
Best vacation? Gran Canaria, Spain.
Thank you Emily!
To connect with Emily, visit her ProjectManagement.com profile.
Based in Bangalore, India, Girish Kumar Dharan is a senior project manager for SAP Innovative Business Solutions. He believes that project success greatly depends on addressing the unknowns, which don’t have defined recipes for managing.
Girish, how did you get into project management? I started my career as a piping engineer with a construction company. Then I did my MBA and joined a pharmaceuticals company where I was part of the PMO formed for the implementation of ERP. Along with PMO activities, I played the role of functional consultant in the implementation of SAP modules. After the successful completion of the project, for the next few years I was a functional consultant with a leading technology company. At a certain point during this tenure, I had to decide whether to continue with functional consulting or move into the project management stream. I consciously took the decision to manage and drive projects.
What do you love most about the work? In general, there are two broad areas that need to be addressed by a project manager. The first area is “the known”—plans, schedules, estimations, reports—that have prescribed ways of doing them. The second area is “the unknown”—customer or partner behavior, organization and location culture, politics—that doesn’t have a defined recipe for management.In my experience, project success depends on how effectively the unknown is managed. I love shaping solutions by addressing the unknown.
What do you find most challenging or frustrating? Due to the geographical spread of expertise across the world, project teams operate globally and remotely. Great advancement in technology have enabled project teams to collaborate. However, even the best technologies are still not able to provide the effectiveness and efficiency attained by team members working out of a single location.
What's your proudest professional achievement? Last year, I was fortunate along with the team to [deliver] a project that was extremely complex technically, the first of its kind, with a high level of remote collaboration and resource challenges due to niche skill requirements.
What's the best piece of advice you've received or can share? It is a quote that I refer quite often: “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”
How has ProjectManagement.com helped you in your work and career? PM.com has added a lot of value with its wide collection of webinars, templates, articles on various topics, and tools that help me perform my role. I also gain a lot by reading and participating in the community discussions and attending the [online] events.
What interests or hobbies do you have outside work? I am an avid reader. I also play tennis, badminton and cricket, and keep myself fit.
Favorite TV show, artist or movie? Quentin Tarantino movies.
Best vacation? Andaman and Nicobar Islands [in the Bay of Bengal].
Thank you Girish!
To connect with Girish, visit his ProjectManagement.com profile.
Hailing from Salzburg, Austria, Stephan Weinhold is a project manager and agile coach in the cooperative banking sector. He takes a Buddhistic approach to the work, and believes constant challenge is what we signed up for and how we grow.
Stephan, how did you get into project management? In high school I started making websites; in 2000 I moved to Vienna and founded an agency there. After a couple of months—and a lot of “experimental learning”—I figured out that “Do what you love” won’t make sense for me. So, I followed the “Be so good they can’t ignore you” path and et voilà: I am in project management. And I haven’t regretted my decision once since. Ok, that was a lie.
What do you love most about the work? I love that I am working a lot with people from different cultures, backgrounds, motivations, work ethics, professions—different everything. On the other hand, I can spend some hours working on my own, if I feel the need to. And I love the challenge. I know that sounds like a motivational poster, but you cannot grow without constant challenge. Every good project manager is a tiny “eager beaver” deep inside, I think. Our profession gives us many possibilities to live that out.
What do you find most challenging or frustrating? Nothing, seriously. Of course, there are situations every day where I feel the urge to ride on a horse while screaming and wielding a giant battle axe above my head. But for me, solving these situations is a huge part of our job. So I just shrug my shoulders and start working. If you stop taking work-related things personal, you will have a better life. Trust me.
What's your proudest professional achievement? At some point I learned to stop taking myself and my role so important.
What's the best piece of advice you've received or can share? View things Buddhistic. If it bothers you, change it. If you cannot change it, come to terms with it. If you cannot come to terms with it, pack your things and move on.
How has ProjectManagement.com helped you in your work and career? There are so many great project managers writing so many great and inspiring articles … asking and answering questions in the forum, which constantly gives me new thoughts while writing … communicating with all that people that know so much about our profession … playing PMchallenge.
What interests or hobbies do you have outside work? I love spending time with my family and friends. I love writing, fiction and nonfiction. I used to play basketball—I’m 5.77, but it turned out to be enough here in Austria. I am playing tennis every now and then. I have two energetic kids, so time is rare. I like playing guitar—I am a trained musician. I listen to music a lot—classical music, of course; Jazz, Progressive, Death Metal, Rap. I read a lot, always several books parallel—a bit of project management, James Lee Burke, a bit of management and agility, Thomas Bernhard.
Favorite TV show, artist or movie? The Wire. More recently, I really liked Fleabag. Right now, I am spending a lot of time with Paw Patrol. [Music:] Deftones. Plini. Beethoven.
Best vacation? Always the upcoming one.
Thank you Stephan!
To connect with Stephan, visit his ProjectManagement.com profile.