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.
Let’s Meet Syed Moize…
Categories: career development
A certified Project Management Professional (PMP) since 2008, Toronto-based Syed Moize manages internal teams and external vendors for project and organizational success at Dream Unlimited.
Syed, how did you get into project management? Since 2006 I have been involved in delivering enterprise application projects. It was during the implementation of Primavera software that I was introduced to the world of project management for the first time. I heard about the Project Management Institute and PMBOK and got hands-on with PMIS software. Immediately after that project, I joined PMI and took the PMP Exam preparation course. I still remember this statement of my trainer: “PMI guidelines are all about helping you to do the things in a right way.”
What do you love most about the work? My job is focused on dealing with people, process and technology. I love the aspect of problem-solving that keeps us focused on finding solutions that are adding value to current process and helping us achieve customer satisfaction.
What do you find most challenging or frustrating? Most challenging part is balancing the triple constraints on projects, managing the stakeholder expectations, and addressing the need of technological advancement in our application landscape.
Does your approach change depending on the country or organization you’re working in? Yes. I can say that it is more about fine-tuning rather than a drastic change. Based on the type of industry or organization and their project management environment sometimes I change my project management approach. I start with understanding the work cultures, teams, decision hierarchies, and past project successes to customize my project management approach.
What's your proudest professional achievement? I led a couple of large ERP transformation projects to success—in terms of strategic importance, cost to the company and team size, they we critical for the organization’s success.
What's the best piece of advice you've received or can share? First, projects can be managed by everyone no matter on which level you are, but only when you manage projects by applying PMI guidelines will you understand what you were missing. I also strongly believe in this quote by Maya Angelou: “Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud.” When you are successful, try and share your knowledge and help others to succeed. I actively volunteer as a mentor with my local PMI chapter in Toronto. When you pay it forward by volunteering you are helping to build the community, inspire others, and grow your network.
How has PM.com helped you in your work and career? PM.com has helped me immensely. It keeps me updated on latest trends and developments in the world of project management.
What interests or hobbies do you have outside work? I volunteer as career development mentor for new immigrants. I’m doing this with the PMI Toronto Chapter, and other not-for-profit organizations.
What's your favorite TV show, artist or movie? My favorite TV show is Lupin.
Best vacation? A visit to Istanbul.
Thank you, Syed, for sharing your perspective with the community.
To connect with Syed Moize, visit his ProjectManagement.com profile
As IT project manager at Johns Hopkins University, Hanh Vu loves turning nebulous needs, wants and intentions into concrete deliverables. She succeeds by ensuring processes don’t stand in the way of the actual work, while tweaking her approach between each project.
Hanh, how did you get into project management? I got into project management around 2014. Our unit was in-between projects. There were a lot of frustration between the development team and other stakeholders in previous projects. Our contractor project manager/scrum master had left. The question arose of who would step into that role, which we all recognized was essential to our productivity and effectiveness. I put my name in the hat. I might have been the only one. I received two weeks of corporate training classes to start. It turns out much of what I do can be summoned intuitively.
What do you love most about the work? I love problem-solving, taking the nebulousness of needs/wants/intentions, and turning them into concrete deliverables, mapping out how to get from point A to point B in a project.
What do you find most challenging or frustrating? Because project management is a new thing where I work, people often mistake all kinds of things as project management. Operational management, workflow management, business analytics all get lumped into this vague catch all of project management in some minds. It’s frustrating at times to correct these assumptions and set the expectation where it should be. The most challenging for me has been to train others in my organization to perform project management duties. But it is a challenge I want to overcome.
Does your approach change depending on the country or organization you’re working in? I have only been with my current organization since switching to a PM career path. I would imagine approaches are to be changed to adapt to the environment in which a project takes place. I tweak my approaches between projects. The key goal for me is to ensure processes do not stand in the way of the actual work. So, I cater to the needs of the projects and people involved. The downside of this is consistency is a bit harder to achieved, although the more projects we go through, the easier it is to find consistency in some way.
What's your proudest professional achievement? In 2018, I led a software development project from conception to production launch in about six months. The result was a not-too-robust web application, but it was enough to satisfy high-level management, and got us a lot of visibility within relevant communities. The work was at a breakneck pace, with cross-functional teams and an abundance of personalities conflict. Requirements or use cases were non-existent. Somehow, we pulled off a proof-of-concept, and a production of the site. I don’t want to do that again, but it proved to me what I could do.
What's the best piece of advice you've received or can share? Early on in my project management career, I was shy and nervous about making decisions with sweeping implications. My manager was encouraging me to bite the bullet and he said: You won’t always make the right decision. But you can always make thoughtful ones. That was good enough for my position. I am grateful to have a safe environment to learn and grow.
How has PM.com helped you in your work and career? Project Management Central has been very helpful. Being that I’m the only person of my kind in my organization and this is my first ever PM position, I don’t have a lot of reference points or institutional knowledge to lean on. Discussions and advice I get from the forum have been very enlightening, validating and informative when I need to make decisions that I was not so sure about.
What interests or hobbies do you have outside work? I garden in spring and summer, sew year around, and do woodwork occasionally. I make most of my children’s clothing, and some of my husband’s and mine.
What's your favorite TV show, artist or movie? I don’t watch much TV or movies; I don’t own a TV or cable service. In the past, I had enjoyed Star Trek: The Next Generation, but it has been a while. I can be convinced to sit down for fantasy-type movies like Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings.
Best vacation? We spent one week in the French Alps. It was the best. We caught 2 stages of Tour de France while there, went hiking and stayed in a tiny little cabin with doors too small to walk straight in. The view was breathtaking.
Thank you, Hanh, for sharing your perspective with the community.
To connect with Hanh Vu, visit her ProjectManagement.com profile.