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.
Project management is not just about focusing on the tasks at hand, but also the adoption and impact, says Lorelie Kaid, VP of enterprise project management for Washington State Employees Credit Union. People will remember your integrity, she adds, so don’t lose it.
Lorelie, how did you get into project management? I have never had the official title "Project Manager" Yet, project management is something I have always done, just not formally. My love and passion around it came early in my career when I was implementing a mainframe-based application that would essentially eliminate an entire department. Users could enter their forms directly into the system and no longer send them to a department to enter. The planning was challenging because I needed help from the very people who would lose their jobs. This experience was the beginning of learning the people side of project management and the importance of not just focusing on the task at hand, but the adoption and impact.
What do you love most about the work? Making a difference. For my day job, I am leading people who are making a difference in my organization. We are transitioning our IT efforts to Agile and some of my project managers have migrated to incredible scrum masters. We are focused on implementing key organizational initiatives that are making a difference in our member’s lives. On the side, I have taught project management for over 20 years. Some of my students are new to project management, and others are pros, but together we all learn from each other based on experiences.
What do you find most challenging or frustrating? There seems to be different perceptions about what project management is and isn’t. It is not an administrative role, but there are administrative requirements in the role—every role has these. It is not a role that “does everything.” When you say “accountant” in the business role, people generally know what you are referring to. When you say “project manager” there are many definitions on the spectrum, and it is important to help people get to the same [understanding] in your organization so that you can move forward.
What's your proudest professional achievement? Honestly, not to sound cheesy, but it is seeing the people I work with succeed. Twenty years ago, I had an intern who is now very successful. We are still connected and have lunch two to three times a year. I tell the people who work for me now that my role is to help them on their journeys, to help them move forward in their careers. The key is they have to do the work to make it happen. I am their biggest cheerleader.
What's the best piece of advice you've received or can share? Integrity matters. An early mentor told me this and he could not have been righter. Your integrity is something people will remember. Don’t lose it.
How has ProjectManagement.com helped you in your work and career? It has given me exposure to thoughts, ideas and people that I may not have encountered. I love this tool and the platform it provides.
What interests or hobbies do you have outside work? One of my passions is producing the musical at the local Tahoma High School every year. I have been doing this for seven years and love it. It is three weeks of crazy chaos, but I enjoy managing the young adults backstage—the actors, orchestra and crew. I am lucky to work for a company that supports my volunteer efforts as well. And volunteering, my project management skills have come in handy. Managing the young adults requires a lot of patience, openness and creativity.
What about a favorite TV show, artist or movie? Big-time Law & Order fan as well as NCIS. Long-time fan of Queen—well before the movie. I have all of the albums. Favorite movies are the Star Wars and Bourne series
Best vacation? Visiting my son and his wife in Philadelphia.
Thank you Lorelie!
To connect with Lorelie, visit her ProjectManagement.com profile.