Project Management

Peerspective

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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
James Turchick

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Let’s Meet Juanita Woods…

Let’s Meet Eduard Hernàndez…

Let’s Meet Craig Brodbeck …

Let’s Meet Rasumon Manuel…

Let’s Meet Stéphane Parent…

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adversity, agile, agility, career, career development, change, communication, culture, decision-making, execution, Leadership, Lessons Learned, people, strategy, team, virtual, Women in PM

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Let’s Meet Rasumon Manuel…

Categories: people, culture

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.

Posted by Aaron Smith on: November 15, 2022 02:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

Let’s Meet Stéphane Parent…

Categories: people, Leadership

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.

Posted by Aaron Smith on: June 20, 2022 04:42 PM | Permalink | Comments (19)

Let’s Meet Paul Bruno…

From the making of the Jeep to the sinking of the Titanic, Paul Bruno shines a light on the past to find valuable lessons for today’s project leaders. “I love helping make the future happen,” the author, consultant and trainer says.

Paul, how did you get into project management? I transitioned into project management from an executive position in 2001 after holding various jobs in information technology, including personal computer support, systems programmer and information systems auditing.

What do you love most about the work? The ability to positively impact an organization and help that organization move forward through the implementation of projects.  Projects always represent change, and I love helping make the future happen.

What do you find most challenging or frustrating? Given projects represent change, the most challenging or frustrating aspect revolves around dealing with the “people issues” that always accompany these endeavors. However, these challenges and frustrations also represent an opportunity to help individuals, and I prefer to focus on that.

How has Covid-19 impacted your work? The fundamentals of project management have not changed, but executing those fundamentals remotely has required some adjustments, including quickly learning the nuances of being effective in virtual meetings.

What's your proudest professional achievement? The publication of my two books on early Jeep history, The Original Jeeps (2020) and Project Management in History: The First Jeep (2014).

What's the best piece of advice you've received or can share? Two, from Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. First, don’t criticize, condemn or complain. When followed we have more room for positive thoughts. Second, remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language. I always try to call everyone I encounter by their name.

How has ProjectManagement.com helped you in your work and career? PM.com has proved an excellent resource to network with fellow project managers, and to keep up with the latest news and trends in the profession. It offers superb webinars and other resources to earn PDUs.

What interests or hobbies do you have outside work? History, of course, and in particular, United States, European, military and political.

Favorite TV show, artist, movie? Star Trek, Tom Hanks and Castaway.

Best vacation? Hawaii, and visits to U.S. National Parks dedicated to history and Presidential libraries.

Thanks you Paul!

To connect with Paul Bruno and find links to his PM History Lessons series on ProjectManagement.com, visit his profile.

 

Posted by Aaron Smith on: March 11, 2021 03:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (19)

Let’s Meet Grace Willis…

Categories: people, culture, Leadership

Grace Willis, PMP, says unconscious bias often “renders project leadership an endeavor in swimming upstream.” Such challenges represent symptoms of larger societal issues to be overcome, but underlying tenets hold true when it comes to good project outcomes—engage your teams, understand your stakeholders, and be authentic.

Grace, how did you get into project management? Since graduating college and entering the world of management consulting, elements of project management have been consistently integral to my job duties. However, if I had to select a turning point, it would be during an internship I held while pursuing my MBA. A mentor and supervisor suggested that I formally pursue PMI certification. He thought I'd make a great project manager based on my performance in the internship. I heeded his advice, pursued the official process, targeted my job search to roles with the official "Project Management" title, and took the exam. The rest is history; I've been a certified PMI-PMP since 2010.

What do you love most about the work? I was initially drawn to the ability to help achieve objectives whilst coordinating subject matter experts. The project management experience was akin to conducting an orchestra where each valuable specialist in unison with others created outcomes. 

However, as my professional acumen deepened in this space and dysfunction emerged from the woodwork, I became intrigued in understanding organizational dysfunction and uncovering its impacts, which include misalignment between projects and organizational strategy, poor vetting of stakeholders and suppliers, unmitigated risk, and waste. The latter led me to broaden my skills and pursue Lean Six Sigma under the tutelage of Six Sigma Blackbelts. This journey into lean was essentially my formal exposure to process improvement—an asset I leverage even today as an Agilist. 

What do you find most challenging or frustrating? What was most frustrating is the misuse of the title “Project Manager.” It has been used by employers to mean everything from glorified Executive Assistant to Systems Engineer, with a touch of project management capability. This is a disservice to candidates and represents a sort of “bait-and-switch” recruiting tactic. The discrepancy between title and function is what inspired my first contribution to PMI in which I discussed the many shades of meaning tagged to the "Project Manager" role and title.

An extension to this phenomenon was the inattention given to selection of project team members and suppliers. Most disappointing was senior leaders with organizational power but a comfortable ignorance of the Project Manager role—a dangerous cocktail.

Does your approach change with the environment in which you’re working? I’ve worked internationally in countries with a national language other than English. I have found, when it comes to project management, people are people. This is not to ignore certain cultural nuances such as hierarchy, labor laws, indices of respect, and of course, language. However, some underlying tenets hold true: 

  • Either the organization has good leadership, or it doesn’t
  • Either the project team members are engaged, or they aren’t
  • Either the stakeholders (positive and negative) and their interests were identified at the onset and continually re-evaluated or not

Where there are implications is how I am received when I show up. Specifically, there will be persons who have intrinsic challenges such as unconscious bias, preconceived notions, discomfort with change and so on, with the collective result being their struggle to respond professionally to someone fitting my profile. Their struggle then renders project leadership an endeavor in swimming upstream because these persons are resisting the project manager—not necessarily the work to be done. 

Some of the laundry list of challenges are at the forefront of conversations going on in our current environment and represent symptoms of larger societal issues that remain to be overcome. One can only come as far as the organization allows unproductive and disruptive organizational cultural behaviors to flourish or be minimally, if at all, addressed.

What's your proudest professional achievement? Contributing thought leadership to the community. I have had several articles published whose content touches on real-world experiences, which often diverge from theories laid out in bodies of knowledge. Being able to candidly share field experiences through various print and digital avenues—and having an excerpt of my articles be selected for publication in a compilation—makes me proud.

What's the best piece of advice you've received or can share? Remain authentic. Being your true self comes with risk, especially when you must deliver tough messages. In my career, I’ve had to deliver recommendations to end a project or rethink an initiative. In these instances, leadership was holding on for dear life to make things work despite clear indices that the endeavor was failing due to deep-seated and systemic impediments. Sponsors were simply victims of the sunk cost fallacy—in a nutshell, the misguided belief in the approach to continue going because we've come this far and already spent so much money/time/resources.

In my current career as an Agile leader, I’ve had to deliver messages that an engagement was not viable, or that business leaders and team members involved in a transformation were ill-suited.

Support your authenticity by having your facts ready. Data points, data points, data points are essential. Make the connection between the data and the impact. Finally, come to the table with recommendations and possible next steps. If your authenticity is met with negativity, then evaluate if you really want to stay in the environment you're in.

How has ProjectManagement.com helped you in your work and career? It’s great to be able to get direct feedback via comments from community members—something that wouldn’t have been possible via the PM Network magazine alone. The community, reading what others are doing, and invitations to informative webinars, has been great.

Where are you from? Where are you based? I’m Jamaican, proud to be one, and very proud of our national motto "Out of Many, One People.” My second home is southeast Florida, which itself is home to a large contingent of the Jamaican diaspora.

What interests or hobbies do you have outside your day-to-day work? Decorating. I have a weakness for retailers that focus on home beautification and kitchen gadgets. Other than that, I like to discover new parks and trails, swim, go to the beach and travel.

What about a favorite TV show, artist, movie? Law and Order—all of them. Phil Collins, the Peters (Cetera and Gabriel), Bob Marley and Bon Jovi. For movie, it’s a three-way tie between Dancehall Queen, and the original releases of Back to the Future and The Terminator.

Best vacation? During the summer before my last year of college, backpacking across France and taking full advantage of my France Rail Pass encapsulated a blissful, adventurous, and precious era in my life that stays with me to this day.

Thank you Grace!

 

Posted by Aaron Smith on: June 23, 2020 05:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (12)

Let’s Meet Andrew Craig…

Categories: agile, people

Our new Ambassadors Program is driven by a special group of community members—people like agile coach and management consultant Andrew Craig, PMP, who helps other members discover all that ProjectManagement.com offers, from discussions to downloads, and all the dynamic content in between. 

Andrew, how did you get into project management? Long ago I managed coffee shops then retail electronic stores. I really became a people person—came out of my shell so to speak. But then 2008 happened. I completely reinvented myself and moved into the technical realm. I started out with help desk/tech analyst, moving to developer—all while recognizing that at some point, a career utilizing my management-leadership-people skills, along with my technical skills, could be very conducive as a business analyst or project manager. From developer I moved to product analyst with a large healthcare firm. From there, I moved on to a business analyst role, then transitioned to project management, both within financial services and consulting. 

My journey to Agile actually started while I was a product analyst. I just had not realized at the time the impact it had on me. As a project manager, I began to question the ways in which we were doing work, asking if there were better ways, asking how we could be more inclusive and work in smaller batches for regular feedback. From there the rest is history!

What do you love most about the work? I love helping others to understand what it is that they want and helping them to get there. I love building relationships and trust. I love to see others get to that “Aha!” moment and flourish with a new sense of understanding and confidence. 

What do you find most challenging or frustrating? Being constrained by bureaucracy or a luddite for working differently. Just because that is how it was done, does not equate to how it should be done. We should always challenge ourselves to think about things from different perspectives. 

What's your proudest professional achievement? Anytime I see or hear that I have made a positive impact on someone else’s career, confidence, ability to perform—that is such an amazing and rewarding feeling. I so love what I do but recognize the impact I can have on others and the expectations of me and my role. 

What's the best piece of advice you've received or can share? Always do the right thing, even if it’s hard to do, and understand that the right thing will not always make everyone happy—the right path is sometimes the rocky path. 

How has ProjectManagement.com helped you? I became active here at PM.com in 2016 after earning my PMP. I had been very active on Linux communities prior and felt like it was time to push myself out of my comfort zone and begin contributing professionally here. It has been a great five years. 

And you’ve made more than 7,600 contributions! Wow! PM.com has helped me to recognize my strengths and new opportunities for growth, to become more confident in what I can contribute, and how those contributions can be recognized and impactful to others. Meeting people at the PMI Global Conference this past year that were influenced by my contributions was mind-blowing. Those times are priceless. 

What interests or hobbies do you have outside work? For a long time I was a Linux geek. Heavily involved in communities. I’ve since moved on and have solely focused on my professional life and family. I was heavy into mountain bike racing but have transitioned to trail running. Less logistics and time consuming.  Nothing beats running or riding through the woods.

What about a favorite TV show, artist or movie?  A favorite movie is hard, but I have lots of shows: The Wire, Ozarks, Stranger Things, The Expanse, Money Heist, Hunters—you get the picture. 

Best vacation? We stay local for vacations. Our favorite place is Maine. We drive up with the kids and dogs. That’s a whole other story! We also love the Poconos right here in Pennsylvania. 

Thanks you Andrew!

To connect with Andrew, visit his ProjectManagement.com profile.

 

 

Posted by Aaron Smith on: March 16, 2020 04:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (18)
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