The Brandeis GPS blog

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

Tag: Project and Program Management (page 1 of 2)

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.

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.

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.

Communication for Effective Leadership

It may go without saying, but communication is a prevalent and critical component of today’s workforce. The skillset is especially essential for professionals seeking to excel in a leadership role. Regardless of industry, professional communications is imperative for leading effective meetings, mitigating crises, and navigating negotiations and conflict resolution.

“Communications is a critical part of doing business, especially in today’s environment. News travels fast. A bad customer experience can become a social media sensation before the CEO is even informed of the problem,” said Mary Caraccioli, Chief Communications Officer for The Central Park Conservancy. “On the flip side, you can use the power of social media to engage directly (and more deeply) with customers, employees and other stakeholders. You can use the power of the communications revolution to work for you by making communications part of your business strategy.”

Mary Caraccioli HeadshotCaraccioli is teaching a master’s-level course in Communication for Effective Leadership, a fully online, 10-week class that will help students build on their critical thinking skills and apply oral and written communication strategies to solve organizational problems and drive organizational change. Throughout the course, students will focus on topics such as negotiation and facilitation, crisis communications and public relations, virtual and global communications, and stakeholder management.

By the end of Communication for Effective Leadership, students should be able to:

  • Develop, execute and measure communication plans to manage stakeholders, solve organizational problems and drive organizational change.
  • Adapt communication strategies and use digital technologies to align with organizational, cultural, virtual, and global needs.
  • Build a portfolio of communication campaigns including crisis response, company positioning, and media statements.

This course is available for professional development or as part of several GPS graduate programs, including Technology Management, Information Security Leadership, Digital Marketing and Design, Strategic Analytics, and Project and Program Management.

At GPS, you can take up to two online courses without officially enrolling in one of our 12 online master’s degrees. This is a great opportunity to get to know our programs and approach to online learning. If you’re interested in exploring one of our graduate programs, or would like to learn more about effective communication for professional development, submit your information or contact the  GPS office for more information or to request a syllabus: 781-736-8787 or gps@brandeis.edu.

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.

Brandeis graduate student publishes new book on AI and Robotics

We are excited to announce that Brandeis Project and Program Management student, Francis Govers, recently published a book, Artificial Intelligence for Robotics. Govers provided us with the following description:

Artificial Intelligence for Robotics starts with an introduction to Robot Operating Systems (ROS), Python, robotic fundamentals, and the software and tools that are required to start out with robotics. You will learn robotics concepts that will be useful for making decisions, along with basic navigation skills.

As you make your way through the chapters, you will learn about object recognition and genetic algorithms, which will teach your robot to identify and pick up an irregular object. With plenty of use cases throughout, you will explore natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning techniques to further enhance your robot. In the concluding chapters, you will learn about path planning and goal-oriented programming, which will help your robot prioritize tasks.

By the end of this book, you will have learned to give your robot an artificial personality using simulated intelligence.

What you will learn

  • Get started with robotics and artificial intelligence
  • Apply simulation techniques to give your robot an artificial personality
  • Understand object recognition using neural networks and supervised learning techniques
  • Pick up objects using genetic algorithms for manipulation
  • Teach your robot to listen using NLP via an expert system
  • Use machine learning and computer vision to teach your robot how to avoid obstacles
  • Understand path planning, decision trees, and search algorithms in order to enhance your robot

Francis Govers’s paperback and e-book can be found on Amazon here.

For software engineers seeking to develop an advanced set of robotics technology skills, Brandeis GPS offers an MS in Robotic Software Engineering. For more information about the part-time, fully online program, contact the  GPS office: 781-736-8787, gps@brandeis.edu, or submit your information.

How to keep the peace and move projects forward in the workplace

Conflicts of interest are common, both in professional environments and daily life. It is important to know how to handle them, in order to get along with and move forward with the people around you – especially as a project or program manager. The ability to accommodate others is a vital skill that all successful business professionals should possess.

Resolving conflicts has become increasingly complex with an increase in virtual teams and the globalization of project management. Virtual teams must approach conflict resolution differently as cultural differences, interests, and values can all influence negotiation strategy and tactics.

Conflict Resolution Word CloudBrandeis GPS will be offering Negotiating and Conflict Resolution during our Fall 2 session, starting in October. The fully online, 10-week course will provide students with a framework to understand the basis of conflict, select an appropriate conflict resolution strategy, and employ tactics that optimize results for both individuals and organizations. During the course, students will explore different characteristics of negotiation including the two fundamental strategies, frames of reference, value creation, value claiming, and the impact of both tangible and intangible factors on the negotiation process.

The course will highlight the challenges that virtual teams present at each stage of the conflict resolution process. Negotiation is a soft skill that benefits from practice of the concepts in addition to learning the theory, so extensive role play of virtual group negotiations are incorporated into the course.

By the end of the course, students will have the skills to develop a systematic plan to negotiate with colleagues, bosses, clients, other stakeholders, and external groups of all kinds. They will be able to:

  • Analyze the characteristics of a negotiation situation and develop strategies for conflict management
  • Execute the fundamental strategies of distributive bargaining
  • Analyze different positions taken during a negotiation and handle hardball tactics
  • Prepare for communications in negotiations and analyze the opponent’s communication tactics
  • Identify frames in negotiation, managing emotions and perspectives, and identifying cognitive bias
  • Apply power to strengthen negotiation and manage influence during a negotiation process
  • Evaluate ethical and unethical tactics
  • Execute culturally responsive negotiation strategies

At Brandeis GPS, you can take up to two courses before enrolling in one of our 12 online Master’s degree programs. If you’re interested in exploring the MS in Project and Program Management, or would like to learn more about negotiations and conflict resolution as part of your own professional development, contact the  GPS office for more information or to request a syllabus: 781-736-8787, gps@brandeis.edu, or submit your information.

Faces of GPS: Kevan Kivlan

Kevin Kivlan - Faces of Brandeis GPS Online Education - Brandeis GPS Blog

Meet Kevan Kivlan, MS, who serves as a Director for the US General Services Administration in New England. Kevan is responsible for the overall regional stakeholder program management where he oversees a team who provides program, project and acquisition advice to federal, state and local governments. In 2010, Kevan received an M.S. in Project and Program Management from Brandeis University after completing his undergraduate studies at Assumption College in Worcester, MA in 2002.

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SPOTLIGHT ON JOBS: Heller School of Social Policy and Management

 

Spotlight on Jobs - Brandeis GPS Online Education - Brandeis GPS Blog

Members of the Brandeis GPS Community may submit job postings from within their industries to advertise exclusively to our community. This is a great way to further connect and seek out opportunities as they come up. If you are interested in posting an opportunity, please complete the following form found here.

Where:  The Heller School of Social Policy and Management’s Segal Citizen Leadership Program works to foster the next generation of citizen leaders, and they are seeking an experienced and motivated part-time team member to serve through June 2018.

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