The 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

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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