There are no mistakes in project management—just lessons learned, says Craig Brodbeck, PMP, PMI-ACP, PMI-PBA, a product manager and group leader for a global industrial electronics organization. He’s completed more than 300 projects and launched more than 850 products.
Craig, how did you get into project management? I’ve been involved in project management since 2005. Although my primary role is product development and product management, I spend a significant amount of time in a project management role. Early in my career, I was frustrated projects weren’t completed on time, budgets exceeded the plan and scope changes were not adequately captured. I joined PMI in 2007 and began to study the fundamentals outlined in the A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) and passed my PMI certification in 2011.
What do you love most about the work? I enjoy working with diverse team members to solve complex issues that delight customers. It’s especially gratifying to see individual team members evolve into a high-performing team. I also like that no two projects are the same. It’s rewarding to work as a team in taking a project from start to finish.
What do you find most challenging? Working through the “fuzzy front end” of projects when requirements are still evolving can sometimes be a challenge. I have worked hard to utilize ideation and elicitation tools and techniques to aid in getting through the “fog.”
Does your approach change depending on the country or organization you’re working in? PMI has done a fantastic job of creating global standards for project management. This allows for a common understanding of the structure for projects regardless of where the project work is performed. As I’ve learned over my career, communication is essential. As I work for a European-based company, I find it helpful to have a stakeholder plan to aid in communication. Although my approach to managing a project doesn’t change, my communication methods may vary depending on the location of key stakeholders.
What's your proudest professional achievement? I just launched a new product line at the end of March and had the honor of presenting the project to our steering committee for approval. Even though I have launched more than 850 products and completed more than 300 projects, it’s always exciting to get a big project to completion. I like to think one is only as good as one’s last project!
What's the best piece of advice you've received or can share? One of my mentors told me there are no mistakes in project management, rather there are lessons learned. Reflecting on lessons learned has been one of the most beneficial aspects of project management.
How has ProjectManagement.com helped you in your career? I’m a frequent visitor to projectmanagment.com. With three PMI certifications, I’m always in need of professional development units (PDUs). With the webinar on-demand option, I’m able to review relevant topics that truly aid in my development. I also like to utilize the forms that are available. Why create a form when there is a library available! Finally, I like to connect with and network with other project managers from around the globe and am closing in on 100,000 connections. ProjectManagment.com is a fantastic resource and well worth the cost of a PMI membership.
What interests do you have outside work? Spending time with my family and working on projects around the house—but with no Gantt charts!
What's your favorite TV show, artist or movie? Lincoln by Steven Spielberg.
Best vacation? I backpacked Europe after college and visited five countries. It was fun learning about new cultures and having the freedom to explore without a fixed itinerary.
To connect with Craig, visit his ProjectManagement.com profile.
This interview was conducted by Kelley Hunsberger
As a project manager at the OCM Group in Dubai, Rasumon Manuel, PMP, loves working with people of different cultural backgrounds, sharing his knowledge and helping his team come up with new ideas to turn challenges into opportunities.
As a civil engineering student at the University of Santo Tomas in the Philippines, Manuel got a job in a very small company, supervising a team of masons, carpenters and laborers working on home renovation projects. He came to realize that project management was something that he loved and wanted to continue doing. Today, Manuel serves as a construction project manager for the OCM Group in Dubai, where he is responsible for delivering and establishing strategic plans and objectives for complex capital projects.
Rasumon, why did you want to a career in construction project management? I saw construction project management as a career that would allow me to help build something that people could use and benefit from. Every day is different, and there is always something new to learn. I am thankful that I get to do what I love while still being able to make a living.
What do you love most about the work? I love that I can work and connect with so many people of different cultural backgrounds. It gives me the opportunity to share my knowledge and help the team come up with new ideas to solve challenges and turn them into opportunities. I love the freedom that comes with being able to manage my own schedule, finances and deadlines.
What do you find most challenging? There are many complexities that come with this job. The most challenging part is having to juggle multiple projects and clients at the same time. It can be stressful because you must make sure that deadlines are met while still making sure that you are taking care of yourself. It is important to make sure that you are not neglecting yourself and your family while working on these projects. I find that managing deadlines is a lot harder than managing people. When a deadline is set, it cannot be changed without a lot of effort.
Does your approach change depending on the country or organization you’re working in? Yes, it is important to learn the culture of the country or organization you are working for so that you can adapt your approach accordingly. It’s important that I have an open mind. In some cases, my approach is more about listening and understanding what people want and how they want it done. In other cases, my approach is more about making a decision and presenting it to the group.
What's your proudest professional achievement? From my first project to my most recent one, I am proud of every single project I have accomplished. Recently, I successfully completed a project with the help of highly skilled and professional people that had a lot of experience in construction. We faced many obstacles, and the most challenging part was when we had to complete the project within schedule and budget despite the effects of the COVID pandemic.
I am also proud that I’m now in a position where I can help others with their careers as well.
What's the best piece of advice you've received or can share? “You will always have obstacles in your life, so take the time to enjoy the moments.” Some of the most memorable moments in my life have been when I was just taking it all in and being present. We should take time to appreciate the good things in our lives, whether it's a sunset, a simple dinner with the family, or a small win or accomplishment. Don't worry, don’t overthink it, and live in the moment.
How has ProjectManagement.com helped you in your work and career? ProjectManagement.com has been a great resource for me in my career, and I can't imagine what I would do without it. The resources that I use regularly are the webinars and knowledge sections, which contain a variety of resources on project management topics. There are articles on the website that are broken down into different categories, including project management best practices, project management tools and project management software. The site also provides an online community where members can discuss project management topics and share their experiences.
What interests. do you have outside work? I enjoy traveling with my wife and kids, serving at our local church, and engaging in sports activities like basketball and cycling.
What's your favorite TV show, artist or movie? Big Bang Theory and science fiction movies such as Star Wars and the Marvel series
Best vacation? When I'm spending time with family and friends back in my hometown in the Philippines.
To connect with Rasumon, visit his ProjectManagement.com profile.
This interview was conducted by Kelley Hunsberger.
Stéphane Parent is the CEO of Leader Maker in Prince Edward Island, Canada, where he coaches and mentors future project leaders. He’s also one of the most engaged members of the PM.com community with more than 8,000 contributions and almost 140,000 people in his network.
You began your project management career managing a team of information system specialists for a human resources unit. Given we were the most technological staff in the unit, we were called to lead and execute projects such as choosing software, install networks and develop technological solutions. As the team leader, I became the project manager.
What do you love most about the work? Project management allows you to blend management and technical. I’ve managed units of technical staff. It’s not the same as managing projects with technical staff.
What do you find most challenging? Projects can only be delivered by people, for people. It’s inevitable that the biggest challenge in project management is people. We talk about projects being unique. So are people. No two persons are the same. Don’t underestimate the amount of work to support and encourage your clients, your team members and other affected parties.
Does your approach change depending on the country or organization you’re working in? To a certain degree. You must deal with different cultures, idioms and approaches. No matter the project or the country, I concentrate on meeting the needs of the people.
What's your proudest professional achievement? Completing the Distinguished Toastmaster award. I joined Toastmasters in 2007. It took me 10 years to complete all the projects necessary.
What's the best piece of advice you've received or can share? I have something to learn from every person I meet. This influences all my personal and professional decisions.
How has ProjectManagement.com helped you in your work and career? It is my project management community. It allows me to reach out to fellow and future project management practitioners across the world. The webinars are a tremendous help in keeping my four PMI certifications up to date. I enjoy sharing experiences.
What interests do you have outside work? I enjoy singing, community theatre and reading. Oh … and, of course, Toastmasters!
What's your favorite TV show, artist or movie? My favorite TV show is Better Call Saul. My favorite artist is my actor/director daughter, Rebecca.
Best vacation? My best vacation was a two-month stay in Mexico after my high school graduation. We drove down from Gatineau, Quebec to Coxcatlán, San Luis Potosí. We stayed in a catholic mission as we were meant to experience the missionary life. As a teenager, I found it humbling to see the richness in the people and their community.
To connect with Stéphane Parent, visit his ProjectManagment.com profile.
This interview was conducted by Kelley Hunsberger.
As chief educator and principal consultant at The Ogaga Johnson Company, Ogaga Johnson, PMP, leads the design, development and facilitation of project management training courses and programs and drives change initiatives for business improvement and standardization. Originally from Nigeria, she now primarily works in Canada and the U.K. Here, Ogaga discusses her love of the profession — and her goal of helping others find their place in it.
Ogaga, how did you get into project management? After I finished my master’s sustainable energy engineering in 2013, I got into energy jobs, but found them boring because of how routine they were. I started searching for the right career and got introduced to project management in late 2014.
It was great to learn about a career where every day is different and where I can use my existing skills such as organization, planning, problem-solving, leadership and communication. I took a project management training course to better understand the technical project management knowledge. In May 2015, I transitioned into project management. I started off as a project coordinator, working on energy projects.
What do you love most about the work? I enjoy turning business ideas and strategy into reality by creating plans, structures and influencing people to get things done. It’s a great feeling seeing an idea or thought become real. I also enjoy how different each day is. It makes going into work something to look forward to. Finally, I love seeing our clients start and build successful and rewarding project management careers through our Transition to Project Management and Project Management Professional (PMP®) coaching programs.
What do you find most challenging? The most challenging thing about my work is seeing individuals who have so much potential think little about themselves or think they can’t start or build a career in project management because they lack experience. It makes me sad. Therefore, a vital part of my work is helping clients to have courage and transforming mindsets into one of a possibility mentality.
Does your approach change depending on the country or organization you’re working in? I have worked in various organizations across Nigeria, the United Kingdom and Canada. I have realized that it’s essential to understand the way things work and the value they expect the role to deliver, especially the politics of each organization. Once I know this, I adapt my skills and approach to deliver and contribute the value expected. I also ensure I bring a fresh perspective toward the way work is done.
What's your proudest professional achievement? Helping hundreds of professionals prepare, study and pass the PMP credential exam. Also, helping individuals, especially recent graduates and immigrants, to start and build rewarding careers in project management.
What's the best piece of advice you've received or can share? You don’t have to be confident before starting anything, you only need to be courageous. Courage births confidence: Every project professional must be courageous and being courageous starts with a mindset. As project professionals, we must be confident in the value we bring to an organization. It’s vital we don’t doubt ourselves nor our abilities. Yes, we can.
How has PM.com helped you in your work and career? The PM.com community provides me the learning resources and network that helps me share knowledge as well as learn and connect with other professionals. This has helped me build my existing skills and to learn new project management skills, grow my thought leadership in project management and stay abreast of project management trends.
What interests do you have outside work? I enjoy traveling, watching movies, volunteering at church, and speaking on project management and productivity topics.
Thank you for sharing your experience with us!
To connect with Ogaga Johnson, visit her ProjectManagement.com profile.
This interview was conducted by Kelley Hunsberger.
Let’s Meet Stephen Robin…
Categories: career development
Drawn to project management because of his love of learning, Stephen Robin is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Project Management in Trinidad and Tobago. Here, he shares his thoughts on building a career in the profession.
Why have you decided to study project management? In 2018, after completing my A-levels, I chose Cipriani College for tertiary education after a rigorous process where I gathered information on every higher institute in the country. I was originally pursuing the Bachelor of Science in Occupational Health and Safety. What caused me to change career paths and pursue a Bachelor of Science in Project Management was an excellent mathematics tutor who was also an electrical engineer with project management experience. He presented a solid case to pursue the project management degree. I decided to enroll full-time in the four-year degree program. The high caliber of lecturers by the project management faculty ignited a fire in me, and I developed a passion for the field.
What do you love most about project management? The learning aspect. Project management is a good fit for a lifelong learner like me because every project is unique, and the field is continuously evolving and changing.
What do you find most challenging about starting your career? Currently, my biggest challenge is gaining work experience locally as the offering of project internships and project apprenticeships are severely lacking in comparison to other fields. This can also be attributed to the fact that the project management maturity model is low in both the private and public sectors.
Project management in my country is not as developed as the United States and Canada. I am too impatient to wait until the country catches up in sense. I am putting greater efforts to go above and beyond career-wise and be ahead of the curve. There is still so much to learn, experience to gain, and people to network with.
What's your proudest achievement in the world of project management so far? I was a key member of the first volunteer project undertaken by my local PMI chapter, which involved meeting with local secondary school students and introducing them to project management fundamentals and to the idea of project management as a career path. It was noted by the vice president of volunteerism and members of the project team — all mature project professionals — that my ideas and efforts were instrumental to the success of the project. I was extremely elated.
What's the best piece of advice you've received or can share? There are many, but a simple tidbit I received, “Just keep on evolving, keep on growing, keep on chipping away, and take life by the horns.”
How has PM.com helped you in your career development? Too many ways to count, but the core areas in networking with like-minded people, the community aspect that fosters growth and development, building knowledge in the professional domain, and most importantly, aided in the development of my career goals.
What hobbies do you have outside work? Calisthenics, Pilates, gardening, reading and volunteering.
Thank you, Stephen, for sharing your journey. And good luck!
To connect with Stephen Robin, visit his ProjectManagement.com profile.
This interview was conducted by Kelley Hunsberger.