Brandeis GPS Blog

Insights on online learning, tips for finding balance, and news and updates from Brandeis GPS

Tag: MS in project and program management

Brandeis GPS Student Spotlight

Student Spotlight

Madhumita Sen ‘23                                         

Westford, Massachusetts

Senior Manager & Scrum Master at CVS Health Inc.

Program: Project and Program Management

In her spare time, Madhumita likes to spend time with her family and pets.

Get to know Madhumita Sen! 

Why did you choose Brandeis GPS?

I chose Brandeis because of the University’s social justice foundation, strong culture of diversity and inclusion, and reputation as a place of learning.

What inspired you to choose your field of study?

As a senior Agile Project Manager working for a major healthcare organization, I found the need to expand my understanding of Program Management as it relates to agile software development. I wanted to gain perspective on how agile software development might scale at a Program and Portfolio level.

How have you enjoyed your experience at Brandeis thus far?

I am delighted to share that the last couple of years have been a rich learning experience. The professors are top notch, responsive, and reachable – always sensitive to student queries and concerns. Studying to ensure good grades while balancing a full time job and attending to teenager needs as a single parent has not been an easy journey by any means. I am just thankful to have been able to manage it all.

What are your hopes and aspirations for the rest of your time at Brandeis? 

I am looking forward to wrapping up the Project & Program Management degree with some great class discussions while gaining fresh perspectives from other fellow students.

What are your plans for after graduation?

I hope to be able to contribute further in the field of Agile Program Management and mentoring/growing Agile Project Managers. 

What advice would you give to incoming students?

Be willing and open to imbibing new perspectives that might be different from yours. I am always inspired by the following quote:

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn” –Benjamin Franklin

What has been your favorite class to-date? 

The class I am taking this semester – “Communication for Effective Leadership” – just might be my favorite one yet.

For more information on the Project and Program Management MS or any other GPS programs, visit our website.

Brandeis GPS Student Spotlight

Student Spotlight

Jeyanthi Ghatraju ‘23

Westford, Massachusetts

Principal QA Engineer, Raytheon Technologies

Program: MS in Project and Program Management

In her spare time, Jeyanthi enjoys volunteering in the community and teaching and performing Indian classical dance for the underprivileged.

Get to know Jeyanthi Ghatraju! 

Why did you choose Brandeis GPS?
This is a unique program that combines Project and Program Management, that is available so close to home from a reputed university.

What inspired you to choose your field of study?
Self-motivation and seeing the need for seasoned project and program managers in the industry.

How have you enjoyed your experience at Brandeis thus far?
The professors have done an excellent job, keeping up with current trends and providing insightful discussions as an important part of the curriculum. I have also had wonderful colleagues in the classes I have taken so far. They have brought much needed diversity in thoughts and experiences.

What are your hopes and aspirations for the rest of your time at Brandeis?
I hope to complete the courses with a good understanding of the subject matter and put them to practice in my profession, both in my current position and in future ones.

What are your plans for after graduation?
I plan to look for Program Management opportunities within my organization. I also intend to seek out part-time opportunities in a non-profit to use the skills I have gained.

What advice would you give to incoming students?
Stick to the course, come what may! Ups and downs are part of life; reach out to your instructor/peers if you are struggling with stuff; let us remember that most instructors want to see us succeed.

What has been your favorite class to-date?
Program Management – Theory and Practice; but then, I must say, whichever class I am currently taking becomes my favorite.

Faculty Spotlight: Sean Milligan

Faculty: Sean Milligan

Program: Project and Program Management

Course: RPJM 119 The Human Side of Project Leadership

Awards: 2019 Outstanding Teacher Award, RABB School of Continuing Studies

Education: Brandeis University, M.S.

Bio: Sean J. Milligan, MS, has over twenty-five years of experience in managing enterprise projects and resources in a number of industries. He is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and a member of the South Florida chapter of the Project Management Institute (PMI) He is currently the Global Director of Professional Services for a company specializing in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions for for the food and beverage manufacturing industry, and resides in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Sean received his M.S. in Project and Program Management from Brandeis in November of 2014, and is also a certified Myers-Briggs Practitioner.

Sean specializes in leadership throughout the personal, team, and organizational layers of Project Management and service delivery, as well as the human dynamics inherent in a collaborative approach to meeting demands of stakeholders and organizations. While Project Management has evolved from a scientifically driven approach to a people-focused mindset as a result of a shift in human factors, Sean’s focus on these factors brings a more holistic approach to leading teams and projects.

Why is this course important or valuable to a PPM student?

Project Management has evolved over the years and requires much more than the science of project plans, risks, issues, etc. Project Managers must now become people leaders and incorporate the art of leading without a direct line of authority.  The Human Side of Project Leadership course gives students valuable insight into the human and team dynamics that make for successful projects and happy stakeholders.  Adding this layer of insight enables Project Managers to achieve the valuable balance between project objectives and people objectives.

Why do you enjoy teaching this course?

I enjoy teaching the Human Side of Project Leadership course because of the fantastic “a-ha” moments that I get to witness throughout the course.  The course strikes a balance between individual introspection and observance of others in specific scenarios that create a valuable awareness of how individuals and teams operate, and because students are participating in team assignments, they get to see these real-life scenarios play out before them.  Students learn so much about themselves as leaders that it easily translates into how they view and lead others, which is fun to see.

Anything else you would like to share with a prospective student?

Get ready to interact with and learn a LOT about your fellow students in this course!

For more information on the Project and Program Management MS or other online master’s degrees available at GPS, please visit brandeis.edu/gps.

 

Student Spotlight on Dylan Alinsky

Meet this week’s student spotlight – Dylan Alinsky!

Dylan is from Colchester, Vermont and is a candidate for a MS in Project and Program Management (PPM) program.

He currently works as a Casualty Claims Adjuster at USAA, and he looks forward to “leveraging the skills and credentials gained from a Brandeis MS to expand into project management and business process consulting fields”.

When discussing the content he has learned throughout his courses, Dylan explained how he utilizes these new PPM tools to help reach his personal goals and achieve professional success:

“Since starting the M.S. in project and program management, I’ve transitioned from a call center role to a leadership and training position at USAA. On a daily basis I’m better enabled to manage risk, as well as drive performance through planning, effective communication, and emotional intelligence concepts”.

Fun facts about Dylan

Movie theater or Netflix?

  • Netflix

Favorite ice cream flavor?

  • Cookie Dough

If there were 25 hours in a day, how would you use that extra hour?

  • I would learn another language

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Dylan thrived at Brandeis GPS – and so will you! Learn more today about your area of interest, admissions and registration deadlines, and upcoming events.

Student Spotlight on Shawanda Legall

Meet this week’s student spotlight – Shawanda Legall!

Shawanda is from Charlotte, North Carolina, and is enrolled in the MS in Project and Program Management (PPM) program.

She currently works as a Sr. Project Manager at Medidata Solutions, and she hopes to “seek a leadership role within her organization”.

When discussing the content she has learned throughout her courses, Shawanda explained how she utilizes these new PPM tools to help reach her personal goals and achieve professional success:

“This program has provided me with the necessary tools to improve my writing, researching, and analyzing skills as a Sr. Project Manager.  Due to this program, I can now tackle extremely complex projects in a different way and it is all manageable”.

Fun facts about Shawanda

Movie theater or Netflix?

  • Netflix

Favorite ice cream flavor?

  • Butter Pecan

If there were 25 hours in a day, how would you use that extra hour?

  • I would become a volunteer coach again for the boys basketball team at the church, implement self-care as part of my regular routine, and learn how to play tennis.

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Shawanda thrived at Brandeis GPS – and so will you! Learn more today about your area of interest, admissions and registration deadlines, and upcoming events.

Student Spotlight: Scott Henderson

Sean Milligan wins 2019 Rabb School Award for Outstanding Teaching

Sean Milligan gets an Outstanding Teacher Award plaqueSean Milligan, an instructor in the online Master’s in Project and Program Management program, has been awarded the 2019 Rabb School Award for Outstanding Teaching. Sean flew in from Pompano Beach, Florida to receive the award last week. The annual honor is given based on student evaluations, the development and implementation of top quality courses and a support for the goals of the Rabb School.

Sean completed his Master’s in Project and Program Management in 2014, and has been an instructor in the Rabb School of Continuing Studies since Fall 2015. His teaching specializes in addressing the common challenges that project managers face every day and presenting real-world solutions to those challenges, as well as transforming project and program managers into project and program leaders by employing various human factors that are inherent in the team environment.

At Brandeis, Sean teaches Challenges in Project Management and The Human Side of Project Leadership. He was instrumental in developing these key courses that allow students to engage with the important topics of the leadership of people, human-centered project communication, dealing with challenging personalities, managing geographically dispersed teams, overcoming stakeholders’ time management issues, and the navigation of external challenges as they relate to the project management life-cycle.

“I see him as a devoted person, a ‘workaholic’. He handled a huge volume of work within a short time-frame [supporting] numerous students,” commented one of his students. “He demonstrated that he practices what he preaches (or teaches). He always responds to your needs and asks further questions that prompt you [to conduct] further research.”

Sean Milligan HeadshotIn addition to teaching in the program, Sean serves as a Global Services and Support Director for a privately-owned software development company specializing in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions for the manufacturing industry. He has more than 25 years of experience in managing projects and programs for a number of industries. He is a member of the Project Management Institute, is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), and is a certified Myers-Briggs Practitioner.

When not working or teaching, Sean enjoys traveling, running, hiking, a good dining experience, and is a serious Red Sox fan.

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

How to Turn Managing Projects into a Career in Project Management

By Leanne Bateman

By the time we reach adulthood, we have already managed many projects in our lives, whether or not we called it project management. We have completed school projects, participated in musical or theatrical productions, played a season or more of a certain sport, and/or completed any number of endeavors that were temporary in nature and resulted in a unique product or service. That’s all a project actually is, though the purpose, complexity and level of effort vary from project to project.

Following this simple theme, we enter the professional working world that will define our effort between (roughly) 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. over several decades until we retire. For many of us, much of our professional work will consist of some level of project management, whether we are directly managing projects or overseeing those who do. The longer we work, the more projects we will encounter since projects are the building blocks of a company’s capability and achievement. For those of us who are naturally inclined toward the organizational aspect of project management, we will enjoy the many benefits of dedicating our time and effort to work on a team focused on delivering a new product or service for the greater good of our company. This is the reward in itself.

Project Management Graphic

Image source: OnlyEngineerJobs.be

For myself, I started my career in information technology. After a few years as an HR Information Systems (HRIS) Manager, I found that the work I most enjoyed was managing HRIS system implementations and other related technology projects, so I decided to focus solely on project management in the next phase of my career. That was several years ago, and I have not looked back.

If you find this is also true for you—that the work you most enjoy is managing or overseeing projects—then there are no rules that say you can’t become a full-time project manager. The best way to do this is to keep managing projects whenever you can, since experience is by far the most important asset in our skill set. You can volunteer for projects at work while approaching your home projects in the same way, since all projects (professional or personal), require a phased approach of initiating, planning, executing, controlling and closing. Both the hard skills and soft skills required in project management get sharper with each project, as long as we continue to focus on continuous improvement of these skills and learn from past lessons. Also, the variety of projects we manage only serves to sharpen our project management skills more while also keeping us interested and learning. At least, this has been true for me.

In addition to gaining experience, I would also recommend the following steps to transition from managing projects to a career (or next phase of your career) in project management:

  1. Read the job postings for a Jr. Project Manager, Project Manager, Sr. Project Manager, PMO Lead, PMO Director and VP of Project Management. These job postings will give you insight into the daily responsibilities and qualifications of project management professionals. This is also a common professional path, though many professionals work as a Project Manager for their entire careers.
  2. Take a class! If you don’t yet have formal training in project management, it is definitely a good idea so you can fully understand and apply project management principles wherever appropriate. Check out Brandeis’s graduate program in Project & Program Management—you don’t need previous project management experience to take a course at Brandeis, just a bachelor’s degree.
  3. If you have a good amount of experience in managing projects, consider professional certification. The Project Management Institute (PMI) is the global governing authority in professional project management. They offer several levels of project management certification, including the industry standard Project Management Professional (PMP).
  4. Continue to hone your soft skills. The skill of communication in particular—verbal and written—is the most important and most commonly used skill in project management. Other soft skills such as leadership, team building, influence, negotiation, and emotional intelligence are critical, and there are endless opportunities to strengthen these skills daily in our personal and professional lives.
  5. Learn, learn, learn! As project managers we never stop learning.

I recommend the steps above because those are exactly what I did. And because my 9-to-5 time is valuable to me, I want to be sure to spend it doing what I most enjoy and what best utilizes and continues to develop my interests, skills and expertise. Transitioning to a career in project management is not for everyone, but it certainly was the best career move I ever made.

Leanne Bateman, MA, PMP, CSM, Six Sigma Green Belt, CIP is the program chair of the Project and Program Management program at Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies, and the Principal Consultant with Beacon Strategy Group, a Boston-based management firm specializing in project management services. Leanne has 20+ years of project management experience across the areas of health care, biotech/pharmaceuticals, information technology, high-tech manufacturing, human resources, construction, housing/real estate, government, and higher education. 

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

Project Management in the Government

By Mike Gauthier

Mike Gauthier HeadshotDo you work for the government? Is the public sector a career you may be interested in pursuing? Are you a contractor currently servicing the government? Do you have a passion for non-profits?

If these questions resonate with you, I would highly suggest pursuing professional development opportunities in government project management.   

Every year, Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies offers special topics courses that touch upon subjects that are popular, interesting, niche, or just unique in general. Project Management in the Government is certainly niche and popular these days, with public projects either being criticized or politicized. If you are a project manager, program manager, contractor, or administrator, this class may provide some insightful lessons learned and considerations when planning, budgeting, managing, closing out, and maintaining a project.    

The fully online course covers the framework of a government project’s entire lifecycle, but you will also explore the particulars of federal, DOD, state, local, and non-profits as it relates to these endeavors. We will look at case studies, and recent articles of the challenges project managers may face. One week of the 10-week course covers best practices in government and contractor vendor management (prequalification and after action reporting), while another hits upon capital budgeting, financing, and fundraising of projects.    

Here is what you can expect from taking this course with me:

  1. There is no textbook. I plan to run the class like a seminar where what you learn can immediately be directly applied where you work.   
  2. Your semester assignment is real world based. You will be able to use it for actual projects that you manage
  3. You will be able to perform a variety of framework analysis on planned and reactive government projects.
  4. You will be able to identify government and non-profit areas of importance to successfully work within their rule sets.
  5. You will be able to apply best practices in contractor management.
  6. You will be able to identify and analyze the proper use of project financing and debt management.
  7. You will be able to recognize and adjust to future trends in government and non-profit project endeavors.

This 10-week, fully online course will run from April 10 to June 18. Start the registration process here or contact 781-736-8787 or gps@brandeis.edu for more information.

Mike Gauthier currently serves as a Team Lead in the Contracting Services Department at MIT Lincoln Laboratory. He provides oversight, direction, and leadership to a group of contracts professionals in accordance with FAR, DFARS, and MITLL policies and procedures. He is also the Vice President for Education for the National Contract Management Association – Boston Chapter.   Gauthier is an Adjunct Faculty Member at Brandeis University Rabb School of Continuing Studies (Division of Graduate Professional Studies) teaching Negotiation, Procurement & Contract Management, and Project Management in the Government.   

Previous to MIT and Brandeis, he was the Chief Procurement Officer for the City of Woburn, Guest Instructor at the Massachusetts Office of the Inspector General, Procurement Analyst for City of Somerville and worked for many years servicing the Federal and State Governments as a contractor.  

He is certified as a Massachusetts Certified Public Purchasing Official (MCPPO) and as a Certified Professional Contracts Manager (CPCM), and Certified Federal Contracts Manager (CFCM) by the National Contract Management Association. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Boston College, a Master’s in Public Administration at Framingham State University, and trained extensively at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Gauthier was a presenter at the 2016 NCMA World Congress and 2015 March Workshop. He is a published author in NCMA and Massachusetts Office of the Inspector General publications.

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

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