The Brandeis GPS blog

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

Month: March 2019

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.

GPS to present at NERCOMP 2019 Conference

Several Brandeis GPS staff members will be representing the division this week at the NERCOMP 2019 Conference hosted by Educause in Providence, Rhode Island. GPS’s involvement will include a March 20 breakout session on Developing and Launching a Course Refresh Initiative, featuring Brian Salerno, Director of Online Learning and Instructional Design, Carol Damm, Director of Programs and Assessment, and Lance Eaton, Instructional Designer and Faculty Development Specialist. The team will be presenting on the GPS internally-created rubric for assessing the effective design of online courses and our process for refreshing courses. Lance is also presenting on the Accessibility, Availability, and Affordability of Open Educational Resources with a panel that includes Instructional Design and Technology Program professional advisory board member Kevin Corcoran.

About the conference

The NERCOMP Annual Conference is the place where our community of faculty, researchers, learners, and institutions come together to engage, network, and learn from each other’s experiences in advancing innovation and leadership in higher education. The NorthEast Regional Computing Program (NERCOMP) partners with EDUCAUSE to bring together leaders in the higher education IT community from across the region.

The NERCOMP Annual Conference plays a pivotal role in bringing together a community of higher education library and IT professionals to build expertise and share information on the latest issues in the field. This conference is the place to connect with peers, share successes (and struggles), and enhance our collective learning.

Instructional Design and Technology

Brandeis GPS offers fully online, top-tier master’s degrees for professionals in today’s most in-demand fields. The Master of Science in Instructional Design and Technology program aims to help students learn to adapt instructional content to dynamic online and mobile platforms. While benefiting from the flexibility of a part-time fully online program, students master how to innovate digital learning with the latest instructional design practices and technologies. Samples of our Instructional Design courses include: Principles of Online Instructional Design, Managing Instructional Design Projects, and Digital Ethics & The Legal Landscape of Instructional Design.

At Brandeis GPS, you can take up to two online courses without officially enrolling. This is a great opportunity to get to know our programs and approach to online learning. Learn more about our MS in Instructional Design and Technology, and preview our courses here. You can also contact our enrollment team at gps@brandeis.edu or 781-736-8787.

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.

The importance of UDL

By Lance Eaton

Lance Eaton HeadshotAccessibility has been an important issue within education for decades and increasingly, one that is causing many institutions to revisit some of their daily practices and educational tools.  As more institutions leverage digital technology in their learning environments, some are coming up short in making sure all students can equally access such learning experiences. Since making learning experiences accessible to all students is legally required, institutions are more actively pursuing the practice known as Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

UDL is a conscientious effort to create learning experiences (everything from individual readings and assignments to entire courses and programs) accessible to a larger range of people, regardless of challenges they might face with regards to their physical, social, mental, and emotional abilities.  Implicit with UDL is the idea that there are many artificial barriers we often create that make it improbable or impossible for students to successfully learn and complete a course.

Universally Designed Picnic Bench

A universally designed picnic bench

To help people think about the challenges and opportunities of leveraging UDL to make courses more accessible, we have recorded this webinar along with a website with resources to help others more effectively develop learning experiences from which all people can benefit.  

View webinar  |  Learn more about Accessibility and UDL

Lance Eaton is an instructional designer and faculty development specialist at Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies. His previous work includes working at North Community College and Regis College as instructional designer. He is currently working on his PhD in Higher Education from University of Massachusetts, Boston.

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.

Image Source: Virginia State Parks

Project Management in the Gig Economy

By Leanne Bateman

Leanne Bateman HeadshotIn last month’s blog post, I mentioned that in today’s market, a professional project manager has the option to work as a full-time project manager for a company or work as a project management contractor or consultant. This month, we will focus in on the contract project manager.

Prior to 2008, it was not uncommon to see project manager positions as regular full-time roles (particularly in IT departments) in many U.S. companies. When companies could not find an available full-time project manager to meet their needs, or if they didn’t have the funding for a permanent position, they had the option of hiring a contract project manager for a limited amount of time. This worked out great for the company, who could obtain an on-site PM to either augment their staff to manage several projects or hire the project manager to manage a single project without commitment for future work. It also worked out well for project managers who appreciated the typically higher pay while enjoying the flexibility of working across different departments, companies or industries.

The Rise of the Gig Economy
The rise of contract work in the 2000s came to be known as the “gig economy,” borrowing the term used by musicians to describe their paid show in a club or bar. The gig economy really took off after the significant economic downturn of 2008-2009, as companies went through layoffs and unemployed workers started taking temporary work to sustain their incomes. While the trend formed through dire circumstances and financial instability, growth continued long after the economy stabilized. That rate of growth will continue to increase. Why?

“Gigging”—whether through a set contract or ongoing consulting—tends to offer higher pay per hour to compensate for the lack of benefits. The flexibility is attractive to those who want more control over their work schedules or who seek breaks between contracts. There is also increasing opportunity to work in different companies and different industries, or to start as a contractor and convert to a permanent, full-time position once the compatibility between employee and employer is established.

Today, the gig economy is even stronger than could have been predicted for all levels of employees. The opportunities have stayed on par with the demand, including the rapid expansion of services such as Uber and Lyft as gig jobs offering riders a lower-cost transportation option. In the same way, accommodation services like Airbnb and HomeAway offer alternatives to pricier hotels. For both types of services, individuals are using their personal assets (their cars or homes) to make money through a temporary arrangement.

The Gig Economy and Project Management
So back to project management. The gig economy has been an extremely beneficial environment for both new and experienced project managers. Not only are there numerous opportunities across just about every professional segment and experience level, there is a consistently healthy rate of demand with low to moderate competition. And this demand is expected to increase significantly, eventually overtaking traditional employment by 2027:

The Future of the Gig Economy

Image courtesy of Jessup University

So, if you are one of the traditionally employed project managers interested in taking advantage of the benefits of working as a contract project manager, please be sure to take note of the typical differences before you take the leap.

Benefits Traditional Employment Contract Employment
Paid time off
Healthcare benefits
Employer contribution to Retirement Plan Depends on contract agency
Feeling of inclusion
Higher hourly pay
Flexibility in work schedule
Flexibility to work across different areas
Less involvement in company issues/politics

While contracting as a project manager has great benefits, it isn’t for everyone. But the same could be said for traditional employment arrangements. Whichever you choose, there is a robust demand for project managers, and it’s great to have options!

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.

Protected by Akismet
Blog with WordPress

Welcome Guest | Login (Brandeis Members Only)