Project Management


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Peers sharing perspectives — that's the purpose of this blog. Here, we get to know our community members — how they got started, what they’ve learned along the way, and why they love what they do. We all can benefit from learning about each other’s experiences, challenges, achievements and insights.

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Aaron Smith
Cameron McGaughy

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Let’s Meet Eddy Vertil…

Let’s Meet James Lovell…

Let’s Meet Grace Willis…

Let’s Meet Mayte Mata-Sivera…

Let’s Meet Andrew Craig…

Let’s Meet Eddy Vertil…

Eddy Vertil was told he wasn’t PMP ready, but his work and life experiences proved otherwise. Now he’s a member of the PMI Leadership Institute Master Class, VP of Business Strategy for PMI New Jersey Chapter, and a thriving project management consultant leading teams to achieve strategic benefits.

Eddy, how did you get into project management? My introduction to project management was not traditional at all. I owned a graphic and web design business serving minority owned businesses in the Greater New York Area. I would literally walk up and down streets asking business owners how I could help them succeed. As business began to grow, I hired offshore developers to take over all web development efforts. I would procure new business during the day, and around 1 a.m. start working with my offshore team to fulfill client orders. Over time, I wanted to refine my knowledge of value delivery by experiencing what it was like to manage larger projects.

In 2012, I officially shut down my business to work under contract at Lockheed Martin. I was responsible for the requirements gathering and implementation efforts for several new internal websites. My biggest “ah ha” moment was when I started working on a multi-million-dollar program at Independence Blue Cross Blue Shield alongside a senior project manager and senior management consultant from Accenture. The diversity and complexity of day-to-day issues and the ability to contribute toward remediation efforts got me hooked. It prompted me to pursue formal training on project management. The more I studied and applied the knowledge, the more it shaped how I handle problems not only within a professional setting but within personal life.

What do you love most about the work? Whether it is work within a nonprofit or a Fortune 200 company, I am addicted to working within teams to remediate complex problems. I need to see numbers, success stories, an impact from the work being done to feel content. I love the diversity of problems that can arise at any given time. I love being able to see what works within one organization, what doesn’t work within another, and to identify the variance within processes. “Best Practice” can be subjective. Understanding why certain processes don’t work can generate a unique opportunity to “build a new engine” to deliver the desired business value.

What do you find most challenging or frustrating? I would consider myself an introvert, meaning that extended conversations tend to feel physically and mentally draining. I find it difficult to translate this feeling to extroverts. I simply have to protect my peace sometimes. It can also be quite frustrating when someone prematurely attempts to sum you up within a category or persona that does not represent you at all. We are all uniquely different.

How has Covid-19 impacted your work? I was fortunate to be engaged within a contract in which working remotely was not an issue. However, my work-life balance took a significant hit. Between work, doctoral research, and volunteer efforts, I found myself sitting in one corner for 12-14 hours per day as often as 6-7 days a week. Everyone has their limits, and I really needed to find new ways to protect my personal time. When you’re working within your passion, none of it feels like “work.” It feels like an opportunity to grow and refine yourself craft. However, when passion becomes obsession, other aspects of your life begin to take a hit, and that is never a positive. It took time, but I have successfully achieved my version of work-life balance.  

What's your proudest professional achievement? When I would share my desire to obtain the PMP certification it was frequently greeted with comments such as, “Well, the PMP requires experience” or “maybe in a few years.” I second-guessed myself for years until I finally decided to just sit for the exam. To my surprise, almost every single scenario-based question on the exam was something that I had encountered once or multiple times before. When I passed the exam, I posted on a social media platform that I had proudly achieved my goal and was now a certified PMP.  Shortly after, one individual who had told me that I would never receive the PMP made a comment stating, “PMI must be making the PMP easier for the younger generation to obtain.” Achieving the PMP helped me recognize that I gave myself far too little credit for what I had already overcome, and that there will always be someone on the sidelines heckling your goals even after you have achieved them.

What's the best piece of advice you've received or can share? Stop focusing on why you should have, and focus more on why you should not have. This principle has helped me obtain true ownership of my goals and shortcomings. It’s quite easy to blame your failures on some external factor. A real leader will ask themselves what they could have done to make a success story. That is key to rapid growth. Even if I am successful, I still ask myself why I should not have succeeded. This is not hypercritical, but a method to find opportunities for internal growth and to recognize when to show gratitude.

How has helped you in your work? Over the years, I have frequently visited the site to obtain perspective on certain PM-related topics. That diverse perspective is invaluable. I have also found the templates can be used without reinventing the wheel.

What interests do you have outside work? I enjoy hiking, traveling and reading.

Favorite TV show, artist, movie? I don’t really watch TV often, but I did find myself hooked on Game of Thrones and House. I don’t have a favorite movie, but I love the thriller and suspense genres. It’s all about the unpredictable ending for me.

Thank you Eddy!

To connect with Eddy Vertil, visit his profile.

Posted by Aaron Smith on: October 21, 2020 04:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (10)

Let’s Meet James Lovell…

Categories: career development

Leading a project and directing a play have many similarities, says James Lovell, a senior project manager for Mercy Technology Services, a provider of healthcare IT solutions. And like great art, the Theater major says the most rewarding projects are transformative.

James, how did you get into project management?  I worked on a project at a print-and-mail company, and my boss at the time was the project manager. Watching how he worked with the teams and planned and tracked the project intrigued me, so I looked into project management positions at the company. Within a year I had a project management job.

I have a degree in Theater, and I’ve found that project management is similar to directing in several ways—there is a “go live” date that can’t be missed, you work with multiple groups to realize the objectives of the play/project, you obtain and manage resources, and you manage communication  

What do you love most about the work? Using project management processes to make an idea or goal on paper into reality. It’s always exciting to start a new project, especially one that is impactful to the organization. The most rewarding projects are those that help people and that transform an organization in meaningful ways.

What do you find most challenging or frustrating? In the waterfall world, my biggest frustration is with estimating. In my experience—and I’ve worked at six companies in two cities over the last 20 years—there is little organizational appetite to improve the accuracy of estimates, probably because it’s so hard to do. In many cases, the process of providing estimates isn’t defined, and people don’t have training.

My biggest frustration with Scrum/Agile is again largely organizational. Most companies are unwilling to invest the time to provide the business resources necessary for a true agile environment, so IT groups build their own stories, prioritize the sprints, and can’t review the sprints with business owners prior to delivery. This leads to quasi-Agile/Scrum methodologies or hybrids of Waterfall and Scrum.

How has Covid-19 impacted your work?  I’ve been working from home since mid-March, as have most of my colleagues. However, thanks to collaborative tools and conference call platforms, this has not heavily impacted my work. I did have some additional meetings and project work to help prepare Mercy hospitals to handle the influx of Covid cases.

Does your approach change depending on the country you’re working in? I have only worked in the United States, but managing projects with distributed teams that include international groups does require creativity with scheduling meetings to avoid meeting times that are in the middle of the overseas team’s nights. It’s also important to capture the holiday dates for all countries at the outset of the project to factor into the schedule. Doing research on the countries of the people I work with helps me provide a more inclusive environment too.  

What's your proudest professional achievement? I recently completed a project that will reduce patients’ hospital stays after colorectal surgery, speed the healing process, and improve surgical outcomes. This was a two-year effort that included changes and additions to surgery protocols and nursing procedures; enhancements to the medical record system; and training for patients and nursing staff. [The project addressed] every stage of the surgical process, from the patient’s initial visit to discuss the surgery through the procedure itself and post-surgery care.

What's the best piece of advice you've received or can share? The old saying, How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, is a great piece of advice. Large or complicated projects can seem daunting and impossible at times, and challenges often appear that seem insurmountable. But following a process to work through each thing incrementally, step by step, always yields the necessary results. Build a process you trust, tweak it when needed to fit the situation, and trust that process.

How has helped you in your work and career? is a terrific resource for training to keep current on my PMP. Since it’s linked to, I can monitor my PDU progress and it’s very handy to have PDUs automatically updated after I complete a video in It’s also exciting to use the site to network with project managers around the globe, share information and keep in touch with the latest developments.

What interests or hobbies do you have outside work?  I like to exercise and travel. I’m on two committees at my church: the Sustainability Committee, and Peace and Justice. I’m a bit of an activist in my spare time. Since I’m a theater fan, I love to attend plays. My daughter is very into dance and theater, so supporting her shows and watching her recitals is a lot of fun too.

Favorite TV show, artist or movie? It’s a Wonderful Life gets me every time I watch it. I have many favorite artists, some are Michelangelo, Monet and Gustav Klimt. St. Louis, where I’m based, has a very good art museum and I discover new artists every time I go.

Best vacation? My honeymoon cruise to Spain, Italy, France and Malta. It was a nice introduction to these beautiful and culturally rich countries.  

Thank you James!

To connect with James, visit his profile.


Posted by Aaron Smith on: August 28, 2020 01:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

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 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 helped you? 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 profile.



Posted by Aaron Smith on: March 02, 2020 01:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

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