The Brandeis GPS blog

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

Month: January 2019

Project Management Certification or a Master’s Degree: Which Should You Get?

By Leanne Bateman

Leanne Bateman HeadshotAs the program chair of the Project & Program Management program at Brandeis GPS, one of the most frequent questions I have gotten over my 11 years at Brandeis University is this: Which is more important and valuable, Project Management Certification (Project Management Professional, or PMP) or a Master’s Degree in Project Management?

Honestly, the answer depends on what you want to accomplish in your career. The options are: work as a full-time Project Manager for a company, work as a project management consultant or just gain project management knowledge and experience in your non-project management related role.

If you’re primarily interested in working as a project management consultant—which involves either working through an agency on assignment at a company, or contracting directly with a company—then the Project Management Institute’s PMP certification is the first credential agencies and companies will expect. Coupling the PMP with Master’s Degree in Project Management will add tremendous value and distinguish you from other consultants/contractors. If your interest is to work as a full-time Project Manager for a company, then both credentials will help you get the job, but the Master’s degree is far more valuable and says much more about your commitment to your project management career. Similarly, if you’re currently a manager or employee interested in learning more about project management and integrating that discipline into your daily work, then once again, the Master’s degree is the way to go. And, your company may be able to contribute to your tuition.

The difference between the two credentials is this: PMP certification is a short-term study of the hard skills and knowledge needed to be a professional project manager, and this knowledge is validated through a 200-question exam that takes about four hours to complete. While there are requirements that must be fulfilled prior to taking the exam, they can be interpreted differently and unless the exam candidate is audited by PMI, the requirements may or may not be equal from candidate to candidate. Also, according to PMI, the number of PMPs has increased by 40,000-80,000 each year since 2009; this increase further dilutes the value of PMP certification.

With a Master’s Degree in Project Management, the value is greater on several levels:

  • First, because of the longer-term period of study over 10 graduate-level college courses, the breadth and depth of academic and experiential knowledge is more extensive. This knowledge covers not only the hard skills of project management but more importantly, the soft skills so critical for a successful project manager: leadership, communication, conflict resolution, influence, negotiation and team building.
  • Also, a Master’s degree in Project Management is more discerning to potential employers since few project managers have this credential.
  • Finally—and importantly—a graduate program whose faculty possess real-world experience as professional project managers is invaluable as they demonstrate the applicability of the hard and soft skills in actual projects and programs.

If one thing is certain in project management, it is that despite any earned credentials, practical experience is the most valuable credential of all. So, a Master’s Degree in Project Management taught by experienced faculty and demonstrated through practical coursework exercises is the next best thing to actually working as a professional project manager.

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.

The most promising jobs of 2019

Employment-oriented social networking site LinkedIn has recently released its list of the most promising jobs of 2019. It’s no surprise that jobs relating to Strategic Analytics, Software Engineering, and User-Centered Design dominated the top 15:

  1. Data Scientist
  2. Site Reliability Engineer
  3. Enterprise Account Executive
  4. Product Designer
  5. Product Owner
  6. Customer Success Manager
  7. Engagement Manager
  8. Solutions Architect
  9. Information Technology Lead
  10. Scrum Master
  11. Cloud Architect
  12. Product Marketing Manager
  13. Solutions Consultant
  14. Product Manager
  15. Machine Learning Engineer

LinkedIn based their rankings on salary, career advancement, number of job openings in the U.S., year-over-year growth in job openings, and widespread regional availability. LinkedIn also released lists of the top in-demand hard and soft skills for the year, which included Cloud Computing, Artificial Intelligence, and UX Design. Many of the part-time, online master’s degrees offered at Brandeis GPS directly correlate with the fields and industries LinkedIn identified as playing a critical role in the 2019 job market.

Students interested in pursuing a master’s degree with Brandeis GPS can take up to two courses for professional development before applying. To learn more, contact gps@brandeis.edu, call 781-736-8787 or visit www.brandeis.edu/gps.

How to attract and retain talent

In the current competitive job market, workplace benefits and perks go a long way to attract and retain top talent. To remain competitive, top employers find themselves investing in health/wellness and culture packages that include  gym memberships, catered lunches and happy hours on top of more traditional benefits like medical insurance, PTO and retirement savings plans.

Education — and tuition reimbursement for professional development in particular — is one employee benefit area where companies can truly distinguish themselves from their competitors. According to the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2018 Employee Benefits Survey, the majority of employees (86%) indicated that professional and career development benefits are important to overall job satisfaction. If employees are satisfied with their jobs, they are more likely to stay with a company for longer. And particularly in today’s tech-heavy industries, companies that provide employees with opportunities for professional development will also ensure that their talent will stay on the cutting edge of new technologies and best practices in their fields.

Brandeis GPS  offers employers a corporate partnership program that enables companies to provide their employees with discounted tuition on top-tier master’s degrees and professional development courses. We partner with national brands ranging from startups to Fortune 500 companies, including PTCNorth Shore Medical, and Harvard Pilgrim.

The benefits of a corporate partnership with Brandeis GPS are two-fold: employees are financially empowered to position themselves for career advancement, and companies can groom the next level of leadership from within.

GPS offers 12 fully online graduate programs. Our curricula captures the latest applied technologies and industry best practices while incorporating the rigorous standards of excellence that make Brandeis University one of the top universities in the country. GPS courses are taught by instructors who are leaders in their fields and bring an array of experiences and industry connections to their classrooms. Each of our master’s degrees and courses are shaped by input from program-specific advisory boards, ensuring that they remain current and relevant for students who are active practitioners in their fields.

Learn more about our corporate partnership options on our website or contact Kathryn Wight, Director of Partnership Engagement, at kwight@brandeis.edu or 781-736-8725.

Don’t wait to create social impact – just do it!

By Subhadra Mahanti

The end of the year is a perfect time to reflect upon how one has done in the past year. Personally, I go back a few years looking for a trajectory that evolves towards growth and meaningful impact-personal, professional or social. I feel a life well-spent is one that has created a ripple effect of positive change in the lives around.

During my undergraduate summer internships with Tata Steel and Tata Motors in India, I was introduced to Tata’s legacy of blending business with philanthropy. Though I was already involved in various community activities, that was the first time I witnessed how a business can positively impact communities by bringing together its products, processes and people. Both these internships opened my eyes to corporate citizenry. Tata’s mission of integrating social responsibility with corporate strategy resonated deeply within me.

Not long after, I joined MathWorks. Since then, I have come to truly appreciate MathWorks’ commitment to establish itself as a global corporate citizen through its Social Mission program. I first participated in this program in 2007. I was fundraising for AID (Association for India’s Development) while training for the upcoming Chicago marathon . With the help of individual contributions and company match, I was able to raise about $7000 in spite of being a new employee then. I have found myself increasingly involved ever since, be it through a-thon fundraisers, STEM initiatives, end-of-year donations or disaster relief. I continue to be impressed with the growing outreach of the company’s social impact initiatives. My most recent experience was during the Tamil Nadu flood relief efforts where in a matter of two weeks, we collected a total of $40,000 in company match and staff donations worldwide. This is an excellent testament to the organizational culture and behavior.

And when an entire organization gets involved in the betterment of its society, that in my mind is corporate social responsibility at its best. What better way to explore and expand one’s impact than by engaging through such immersive experiences! I feel privileged to have had such an opportunity. At the same time, I recognize that there is still much to learn and so many avenues to discover.

For those of you contemplating to start out on this journey, there is a plethora of resources out there. Some of my favorite reads are: Creating a world without Poverty by Muhammad Yunus (a link to Yunus’ interview on Knowledge@Wharton) and The fortune at the bottom of the pyramid by C. K. Prahlad.

Also, McKinsey Quarterly published the following articles on the topic that caught my attention: Valuing Corporate Social Responsibility and Making the most of corporate social responsibility. Another site that I follow is Social Edge: it has posts and comprehensive discussions about personal experiences with for-profit, non-profit and the hybrid models-the challenges and the advantages.

Foundations like Scwab and Skoll probably pioneered the concept of social enterprise but the world has caught up fast. Organizations like Ashoka and conferences like Net Impact bring together social entrepreneurs round the globe and promote access to social financing and social venture capital firms. Now even top business schools have dedicated programs and tracks on social impact and entrepreneurship. After all, social responsibility is not a choice anymore: It is a necessity to sustain in today’s competitive landscape.

Read the article as originally published here.

Subhadra Mahanti is  a member of the Brandeis GPS Software Engineering advisory board.

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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