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.
Eric Simms is a senior program manager for the U.S. Census Bureau. He regards projects like Sudoku puzzles and is proud of showing skeptical developers that project management, properly applied, could be a good friend.
Eric, how did you get into project management? I unknowingly entered the project management field in 1996 during my first real job after graduating college. I was a Quality Control Director, and it was only years later that I discovered many of the actions I performed in that role were considered "project management."
What do you love most about the work? I most enjoy the complexity surrounding project management, particularly the delicate balance required to meet stakeholder expectations while successfully executing the project. I regard a project rather like a Sudoku puzzle, but one with a practical, beneficial outcome.
What do you find most challenging or frustrating? As a consultant I often lack the authority to make high-level executives do what they should. As a result, my team and I usually need to perform extra work to fix the problems caused by the executives’ actions or lack thereof. I resent wasting time and energy in this manner, and I resent organizations that allow their executives to act like entitled divas in the first place.
What's your proudest professional achievement? As a contractor without formal authority I was able to transform a group of unorganized developers who viewed project management as useless bureaucracy into an effective projectized business unit. I accomplished this by showing the developers how project management — properly applied — can greatly enhance their productivity.
What's the best piece of advice you've received or can share? Don’t let anyone make you believe a project must be managed in one particular way. All project management methodologies and documentation are merely tools to help you successfully execute a project — how you use them is up to you. No two projects are exactly the same, and just because a method worked well for one doesn’t mean it will work well for yours. Also, best practices are good guidelines to follow, but they’re only guidelines. Feel free to amend them to suit your particular situation.
How has ProjectManagement.com helped you in your work and career? Every member sees project management from a different vantage, and I have learned much from their many different perspectives. Some of the questions asked and situations described are outside my experience, and I benefit greatly from considering how I would address them.
What interests or hobbies do you have outside work? I enjoy weightlifting, gardening, travel and entertaining in my home.
Favorite TV show, artist or movie? Game of Thrones is currently my favorite TV show, and Pablo Picasso’s Guernica is my favorite painting.
Best vacation? I visited Quebec’s old city with some friends. The snow fell gently that day, and it made for a quintessential Christmas village scene.
Thank you Eric!
To connect with Eric, visit his ProjectManagement.com profile.