Microsoft Project Manager
Utah State University Master of Business Administration (MBA)
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How did you get to where you are today? What is your story? What incidents and experiences shaped your career path?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Sep 14 2020
Yeah, well ah, lot of stuff I started in school, so I needed to make money while I was at school. So I got a job in i t. And it was they needed help installing desktops. So back in Oh, I don't know, 99 before the doctor, you know, 2000. So that was everybody was worried about, You know, y two k and everything like that being a problem. So I started at nights helping install desktops. Basically, I t support started doing that. I was going to school, and I like business. So I was studying business and then did a minor and information systems out. And I had started my degree. It was gonna be computer scientists, and then I was going to try to electrical engineer. I kind of switched around till I found what I liked. And then I worked through some of the things and they had a different spot in the I T department. So I took that job full time instead of just working nights, graduated and started working, and then did consulting. I moved in to become a consult Luton traveling around and doing those different things, and, uh I wanted to learn more, And so I went and got a master's degree in information systems management, which helped me a lot in that kind of areas. And then I did system administration, network management things of that nature and kind of continued and consulting and then finally moved over into project management. And that was when, uh, back in 2012. I didn't MBA So did that. And then I did a bunch of other different certifications, and I just kind of continued to work, you know, traveling consultants in that.

What responsibilities and decisions does one handle in a job like yours? Tell us about weekly work hours, including the time spent on work travel and working from home.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Sep 14 2020
sure. So, as a project manager for a program manager, Microsoft, we have a couple different things that we handle. So I'm in the consulting services division. So normally under non Colvin type traditions, we travel usually every Sunday or Monday, and we come home every Thursday or Friday, depending on where the engagement is, in which project some international assignments have had. The travel would be two or three weeks, you know. So if you're going to Brazil or somewhere, it's a little bit further than you know. You would go for two weeks and come home for a week ago for two different things like that. So, uh, it's definitely high travel. Um, during covert, it's a little bit different. Typically, we you know, e. I've been able to work from home, so that's been nice, But the hours have been a lot longer. Normally, a week of work week is anywhere from 40 to 48 hours with the client, and then you have anywhere from 5 to 6 hours of administration work. On top of that for expense reports, other pieces of that nature, obviously, then, if you want to do any continuing education, you had that on top, and so you know, it's it's not uncommon to be a 55 hour week or so.

What are the challenges in a job like yours? What approaches are effective in dealing with these challenges? Discussing examples will help students learn better.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Sep 14 2020
the challenges with project or project management are mostly people in processes, the technology problems we could almost solve. You know, it's usually a question of time or money, but the people in processes are the things that usually you have to figure out how to find bring together, customized for a specific client or the project that you're working on. You know the challenges within projects are Can you deliver the project its outcome within the stated time scope on budget? So you have various constraints. So not Is it just, you know, dealing with different peoples dealing with different time zones, different pieces of that nature. You've got to figure out how to consistently maintain your schedule baseline and deliver to that baseline of cost scope from budget. As you move into larger projects or programs, you end up having the issues of dealing with How do you get the roadmap? How do you strategize for delivering multiple projects together to deliver a combined value that benefits back into the either the business or the client? So there's different pieces. They're usually it's that you're going to get yelled at for somebody else's mistake that's ultimately rolls up to you, so you kinda have to be willing, toe, You know, say okay. I understand. That's our problem. Let me go investigate. It will take a look at and come back. So it's so that the you know not everything is your fault. But it is your fault. At the end of the day, you're responsible.

What tools (software programs, frameworks, models, algorithms, languages) are typically used in a role like yours?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Sep 14 2020
the simple tools are, you know, are going to be because I worked at Microsoft. We use the Microsoft Office Suites. So it's gonna be, you know, word Power point. You know, uh, excel specifically, a lot of planning is done in excel roadmaps. Other things simply planned in in power point and project anything of that nature that helps you take a ambiguous idea and organize it into pieces and strategize. Now, those air do we do use Microsoft Project as a scheduler so that you can take a look at the project or program schedule and really understand those interdependencies. And if one interdependency starts to move to the left is it's going to come in early. You can see how you can accelerate or crash your schedule on one side if that's gonna move left Now you have an inter program or princey on the right. Now that's gonna move late. How are you going to figure out to kind of handle that push and understand is going to cost more? Can you reduce scope somewhere? Can you change some set of interdependencies between projects or program activities? So there's lots of different pieces there, so that's the set of tools being one, you know, the Microsoft office, you know, and then Microsoft Project. I do a little bit invisible, but mostly the architect's to things invisible for diagramming each of the different technical aspects of the solutions software programs I've worked on all sorts of different years ago, I was in the what we Call Business Productivity, which was in the SharePoint and Microsoft office type group, implementing those in larger custom scales. I then moved into modern applications, which is just custom sequel and ESPN other dot net type, you know, custom applications. So that was the development the team worked on. And then I'm now currently in business applications, which is the CRM. And so I work in that area now doing CRM solutions. Uh, frameworks. Well, we typically I kind of joked that we're in three different things from a project management perspective. Were either waterfall or water scrum wag ill or were agile, so we're usually some hybrid stuck in the middle. Sometimes we're a little bit more like what I call water scrum. Sometimes we're a little bit more agile, which is a little waterfall, but some agile or somewhere usually in the middle of that. And that's the trick of not everybody. Is that those levels, you know, kind of of, uh, I t maturity and software development charity current program I'm working with. They're really struggling. They wanna be kind of a c m m my level five type super great shop. But yet there are a state agency and they just don't really have the high quality talent that they need. They're not able to attract, retain and train. Those resource is they need to get to that level. So tools air a lot of the just basic communication tools. Most of what I do is communicating, organizing, strategizing, figuring out how we execute on plans. Uh, frameworks or somewhere between waterfall scrum and agile have certifications in each of those, uh, languages. Well, obviously English. But that's not what the intent, I think the question is, I don't do any programming myself. But that's usually, uh, dot net and then configuration within the applications and others. There is Java and some other stuff in there as well, right?

What are the job titles of people who someone in your role routinely works with, within and outside of the organization? What approaches are effective in working with them?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Sep 14 2020
So I have basically two groups. There's a group that you manage up in the group that you managed down. The managing up is usually the C suite, so that will either be the agency directors would be the CFO, CEO, CEO, C A. C. So So. Those were the ones you're usually working with from your steering committees who are. You know, you're discussing the different various stages, progress to the project, and then when you're escalating, because you've got some type of problem that you're not gonna be able to resolve within your program, risk reserve or project risk reserve. Uh, so that's the job titles of those you're managing up managing those you manage down and work with on a day to day basis, obviously here and a half kind of that core group you work with. I kind of call that that you've got your your program manager, your project managers. You have your architect, and you usually have some type of work stream leads, so you'll break down a large program into several parts, which would be, let's say, for example, I need to develop the solution and it's gonna have three different pieces. We need to have interfaces with each of the external agencies. We need to have the custom core development to match the business requirements. We have a team for development of the business requirements, and if it's if it's thousands of requirements, we might have three or four teams working in parallel. You're gonna have a team working on the interfaces that are needing toe share information with other agencies or with other, You know, third party vendors, depending on how how the project is set up, on what the requirements are, and then you might have to other groups, which are usually in this area of depending on the size training. If you have a lot of employees that need custom training, we typically have a project or work room set up for the training. So all of the C. B. T s computer based training, how that's going to be shared, what, the manuals, they're going to be created, that would be a separate project, and then finally you'd have something around adoption and change management. You know, if you're really restructuring how the business is working within the client, they're gonna have a lot of issues to change so you could typically have in your team. Ah, couple project managers and architect, a couple work stream leads or other areas in that type of area. They'll have titles from architect to, uh, senior, uh, consultants Thio. Depending on what they have other areas, sometimes they might be educational consultants. It's just a mix of that type now within the Microsoft structure we have to report up to then. So we have a delivery manager who I would report to, and then there would be a practice leader, which would be kind of someone that runs a practice or portfolio. And then you would report to general managers after that and on occasionally I would work with a vice president.

How would you describe your management style? How has it evolved over the years? Can you tell about experiences or books that influenced your management style?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Sep 14 2020
going to be open and transparent. I kind of joked that bad news is not like find cheese or wine. It does not get better as it gets older. It just gets stinky er and more of a problem. So usually I like to go figure out what the problem is. Figure out what our approaches, you know. Usually there will be two or three different possible ways we can approach it and then tried it again. Um, certainly there's. I'd like to make sure everyone has a voice and can discuss and bring different things. Certainly there's the other kind of saying I like that. If you know, if there's three of us in a room and three of us have the same opinion, then probably two of us a redundant. So there's that idea of, you know, if people aren't challenging me, I'm not challenging them, and we're not seeing different options or ways to approach it. And we're not being ableto to share that information on have respect for each other than it is just it's difficult, like we're just not gonna find the better things. Um, how is it involved? Over the years? There's about three or four questions in there. I would say that, um, you gain confidence, You gain understandings, the different. You know, I started in an extremely technical area, and I kind of noticed there's two in the project management realm you have. People kind of come up through those areas. Those ranks or you have other people kind of have switched in areas. The biggest thing is you have to let go of all the technical details. At a certain point, you cannot be in looking at every single piece. You have to trust that you know your architect and your other technical resource is that air doing quality control are analyzing and looking at that actual pieces so that you can stay focused if you don't delegate. I've noticed that some of the better project managers air really, really technical, but they have to be able to delegate and take a look at that, Um, any experiences or books that influenced your management style? Well, the experience of on the job on the job experience or O. J T. Is, you know, invaluable. It's kind of that Catch 22 how do you get the experience so that you can get the job. But how do you get the job to get the experience and you just got to jump in. And you gotta always kind of move at Microsoft. I've done. Uh huh, probably. I think it's my fifth role that I've done. So have you know I've been here almost 12 years and I've done five different jobs similar to each other, but slightly different. Most of them have been in consulting. So really, that's the just keep trying. Keep learning. Um, like I say, I I'm always doing different certifications, learning about different things. I've had different arguments. It seems like things have kind of settled. But back in the early days of I t right in the nineties, and such people would say, Oh, well, college doesn't matter. Only certifications Dio and then other people go. I don't need certifications. I've got college and others go. I don't need either. I've got the job experience, I know how to code. And I say that you know, when you're out there actually interviewing right now, it's still a pretty tight labor market, even though the Koven is affected. But, you know, we're able to work remote and other things, so there's a lot of benefits in that regard. But the person that you're kind of you're competing against, who's gonna win is the person that has that actual on the job experience has the college degree and has the certifications. They're the one that's gonna win and be able to do it. And they're also gonna be the one like things continually change. So if you think, oh, well, Kobol was a great programming language, right? Well, you know, we know that dot net and other things will change, and in 10 15 years will probably be something entirely new. Just never stop learning.

How do you manage conflicts within and across teams? How do you promote trust, openness and a healthy work culture? Sharing stories will greatly help.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Sep 14 2020
So this is This is the art of emotional intelligence and, you know, it is more. There's no textbook here that's gonna help you. And when you have two of your project managers yelling at each other in front of the client, you know, you kind of got to get that to kind of calm down. But you also got to be able to not make any of them feel like, Oh, hey there. Their voice isn't valued. Um, and there's a lot of times I frankly just do not agree with the client. So I have several phrases where I basically say, uh, you know, noted on there like looking at me like, What do you mean? I'm not agreeing with you. I'm just saying, Okay, I'll write down your comment and we're gonna have to go back and look at, um, conflict is not necessarily bad. It just It's difficult for conflict not to cross the line and become personal. So any time it's there where somebody becomes kind of, if it becomes a personal type of attack, you just have to step and say, Hey, let's take this offline. Let's go talk about this somewhere else. You know, let's take a little bit of break and come back and talk about it. Um, and then the other part of realized is most of the time, conflict or things. When when someone there is it's not about me, it's that the person themselves right now has something that they're trying to internalize and work through. And so you know, you I'm always quick to go. No, but I wanna help solve the problem. I need to listen and really kind of, you know, as they say with Shrek is, watch those movies with kids, peel the layers of the onion, look in and kind of Okay, let's let's work through this What's really happening? Sometimes things could be just a simple as they've had problems at home, and they just need a couple days off to go get something solved and then they can come back. It just depends now when you have the problems around money, scope, quality, right? Usually the things are you didn't deliver everything you said you were going to deliver, right? So it's a scope problem, especially in the fixed feet realm. In the time of material realm. Usually my problems are how did you let me spend $2 million and not deliver value? Right. So you spent all this money. But you didn't deliver the key value or quality, right? You did all this stuff? Great. But then it didn't meet the quality bar. So those were usually kind of a couple areas again. You've got to really carefully think about the big picture. Another thing. I kind of talked about this. I, like a lot of, you know, analogies around mechanics and things like that. So cars, motorcycles, planes, boats and stuff. And I say, Look, I don't care about the 3000 mosquitoes. Yes, a sailor may get malaria from one of those mosquitoes and die. What I care about is the three torpedoes that will sink the ship. Yeah. So what are the three torpedoes? 3000. Gives us a lot of times. People like, bubbling up. Oh, I got this risk. I got this thing. Yes, we could have Ah, pandemic. And we don't typically. And at least I haven't usually used to pandemic is an example. In a lot of my risk registers and managing for risk, it is something that could happen. But there's other things in there that you're looking at. Your piece, such as this key interface with the third party, is starting to fall behind. If we don't have it, we don't have a working solution. We cannot share information. We will not get the info we need for your solution to work for that data. One of the other ones is we don't get signed off from the security, right? So if the S s a doesn't, you know, So the Social Security Administration doesn't approve the audit. We cannot share production in production. The S essays back from you know, whatever vendor is providing that from, you know, So there's a couple of the third party agencies within the government that provide that info. So if we don't get some of those key things fixed, our dependencies don't work in our plan, doesn't. Okay? And that evolves too. So I've had a lot of issues where programs get delayed projects and got behind, and you got to go share the bad news and, you know, you just have to share it. It's not going to get better if you wait another four weeks. Um, that just means, you know, depending on how much your burn rate is. If you're burning 203 $100,000 a week, another month means, um another million million in the quarter in the hole. And so that's not gonna help. Nobody's gonna want to hear that. Now, I've got to add another million dollars the budget, because you didn't tell me a month ago. Eso there's lots of different pieces there. The part is usually sharing. Bad news isn't gonna work. And, you know it's gonna be painful. So you need to make sure you manage. You let your management No. Hey, here's this problem we've got I do, uh, just based off of the was pulled in recently to help recover a large program and get it from kind of red back to less red. I don't think we're ever going to get this one out of Red. We're just going to get it done. But one of the key parts is I do weekly meeting with those key individuals from the internal. So I'm managing my internal stakeholders and I'm saying, Hey, here's my five issues. Here's my problem. Here is what I'm working on. Here's what I need you to reiterate back to the director, the agency director. Here's what I need you to, you know, help with when you're talking and you're one on one with the CEO, you kinda have to organize. I wouldn't call it like a political campaign, but you've got stumped messages. You've got these four or five things like it's time to stop changing this program. It's time to, like, start packaging and let's ship it right. Do you want to go live or do you want to just keep fine tuning things that forever and ever eso those are things you gonna have to work out? So you got to manage the internal communication. You gotta make sure everybody is kind of saying the same things. And when you do have conflicts, sometimes you just have to push the pause button and say, Let's talk about this one a little later. Hm?If you try to argue the detail, you're just gonna They're gonna go. You didn't hear me. You didn't listen to what I just said. I don't. By the way, I'm the one paying your bill. So be quiet and listen to me. Right? So if you don't just go, okay. I heard you. Let's go look at it so well, I have a couple of those kind of favorite phrases and noted is one of them. I picked that up from a lawyer one time a long time ago on a call. We were in a lengthy discussion back and forth, and I think the lawyer said about 35 times. So in, like, 11 hour phone call.

How can one get better recognition of work from one's boss and higher management? What mistakes should one avoid? Stories or examples will be quite helpful.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Sep 14 2020
This is an ambition, right? And ambitions. Good, because you need to continue to change and strive and become better. But I also feel personally, it can almost become nauseated. Like there are some people that are so ambitious they try to control every word that goes out about them. And like, they care more about what their boss or they're kind of management thinks than like, Are they actually doing a good job? Right. So for me, the most important thing is if you do a good job, people see that right? General managers are you know, their job is really they've got to manage their business. But all they really do is put out a lot of fires right there, a point of escalation so they know what it's like. So if they start getting less phone calls from a project that means something is going well, right? If they're getting positive feedback from the client, is there so first and foremost, work hard and do a good job that is recognized now you need to be ambitious. You need to manage out, but you need to do it. Not in a way. For me, that's a least not like just I don't know how I describe it. It's just overly ambitious when when all you care about is making sure that someone here is what you did and how you describe it. And you never give anyone else credit, right? It's not just like there's no way of program happens. There's, you know, some of the different things we've had, You know, there could be 110 115 team members on there. There's no way that I did all of that. Coding and shipping and all the other pieces like this just isn't gonna happen. Yeah, making sure everyone gets credit. They understand that, you know, just a general manager. There's no way that their entire practice of you know $500 million actually happens without having all the other people doing stuff. So my personal opinion is work really hard, do a good job, and then, you know, you need to make sure your management knows so definitely, if you get a nice email from someone, forward it up to your boss. You can also, when you're in kind of a management position, promote the people underneath you, right? Care about you have to legitimately care about those people with you. If you do that and you're promoting the people. Hey, look, we just got this great comment about our release manager. He was able to resolve to conflicts on the code branch. He worked the weekend and got him done in. The client said That was just amazing. Forward that off to his manager. You know, if he's over there in Bangalore, that means a lot to his manager over there. If you've got somebody that's working in Argentina, uh, send them a note, but managing up those things. They're known and everybody talks, right? It's a It's a small network. Everybody kind of knows, and your brand is definitely something that kind of comes. You'll just be known as this person. Solid. He executes. He gets things done. He doesn't make a lot of noise. There's very little drama on that's valued, Um, certainly You know, if you if you have concerns or the things you've got to raise them, you have to deal with them. But for me, it's fundamentally work hard. Do a good job, make sure the people, uh beneath you are being promoted and elevated and helped and recognized. And then it will come for you. You know, if you wanted to come exactly when you want it, then it doesn't usually work that way for me. At least it hasn't in the past.

What indicators are used to track performance in a job like yours? Think of the indicators such as key performance indicators (KPIs), objectives & key results (OKRs), or so on.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Sep 14 2020
so there's two ways. One is there's tracking performance of a project or program that you're delivering. And then there's How are you individually measured, providing impact and contribution back to Microsoft. I'll start with how I'm personally measured and then I'll move over to the others. So we have a fairly straightforward system. Other agents, you know, cos I worked with some other things, so as a you know, utilization type resource, you have a commitment to how many hours you utility, how much you build, right, So if you hit that target, you can. You have a metric there. So how many hours do you build in a year? And that's pro rated based off your 10 year. How many vacation your standard work training. So you have a target there, then you have commitments. So then you have some type of commitments that you make with your manager that you need to work on throughout the year, and that's called a commitment based. So you have a combination of commitment and, uh, utilization. And then finally, there's other things of you know. Part of that is, how is the company's itself in each of the primary strategic directions. How is the company executing? And that kind of helps influence, Uh, your your metrics and others. So that kind of gives them either accelerators or decelerate er's on some of your pieces, But primarily you've got to hit your commitments and you gotta be actively building now on a program. What are the key pieces? There's different things. So, obviously, are we realizing the benefits from the program back to the actual you know company? Are they getting the pieces? Are each of those projects coming in on the timeline or those interdependencies being completed on time finished as needed? Um, if they're not driving value, what? You know what adaptions or changes need to be made so that we can drive that value from a project. Obviously, it's delivering to the baseline and managing to those pieces. So there's, you know, what are your estimates to complete? What is your estimate? Complete. You know, there's all your financial schedule type indicators, and then there's, you know, uh, other things around, just kind of the health of the team. So we have different surveys and of the things we try to do to see how the team's doing And if it's a small team, you just talkto so some of them are very formal. You know, we know exactly this is the financial baseline. How much we have spent, how much work we have forecasted. And what's that Delta we know we're supposed We're tracking for this target date. What's our schedule? Variants? So there's other of those kind of key things there.

What skills and qualities do you look for while hiring? What kind of questions do you typically ask from candidates?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Sep 14 2020
eso, certainly in the project management area, we're looking for experience in project management on larger scale type programs and projects. One of the certifications, you know, usually a four year degree is required is a minimum, and then the PMP. So the project management professional certification from P. M. I. Those are kind of some of the kind of the minimum standards. Then, when we look into what's going to make a good project manager, I look for things that are around. Are they quantitative? Do they know how to analyze and understand? You know, I have just picking over 2000 requirements that needs to be built in this solution. How am I going to track that? Those 2000 requirements are one that been analyzed. They've been now been defined, designed there, now in development there, now passing test, and they're now ready to go on the release train. So do they have the ability to quantify that? Do they understand things in project schedules? Do they understand? You know, different scenarios around risk and issues and how they kind of go through some of those pieces. So from a scope management perspective, I'm looking for things do they know? How have they used various types of things? Obviously, with Microsoft, we use as your dev ops, which was formerly V STS visual studio team services. So do they know some type of piece like that that they can use, uh, to manage, scope and manage those pieces and share that, um, super small projects. And you could do it, Nextel, Right? Others. It's done in Microsoft Project to help you with your schedule. I look for the ability to communicate and understand and take a ambiguous problems. So when you're given a project, you don't really have any of that plan. So that fundamental piece of can you take some ambiguous piece and break it down into its components and then tracking motivate the team to execute against that? And then finally, when that plan Because no plan is perfect when you make it. And you know at the beginning, how do you adapt to keep that plan working and then make it at the end

Can you discuss career accomplishment(s) that you feel good about? Please discuss the problem context, your solution, and the impact you made.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Sep 14 2020
confidence. Well, I can't talk about all of the clients I've worked with, but I've had some. I've spent quite a bit of time in the government, kind of the local state government area. And we really had opportunities to modernize those platforms. So some of these agencies, they're using software that can be 15 2025 years old and, you know, obviously cloud basis, the latest buzz word of the day. But they're using things that are still on mainframes. They're still having difficult to do that they still have terminals. Americans are using solutions that just don't provide the support they need and mostly the the user base. I was growing up in expecting such a, you know, from a commercial sector such a more advanced, intuitive interaction communication like I should be able to update my email setting and expect that email to come back to me. I'd like to get it on a weekly basis, a daily basis, lots of programs that were developed by the states and didn't have concepts like that. Why would we communicate with our end users that frequently? Or why would we even allow the ability to configure how often they received communication from us, let alone being able to access and see what information they do have. Now it's neat to see how a lot of the privacy and other, uh, regulations that have come out uh, G, D. P r and the other from California. How that effects you know, not just privacy, but that it allows things to kind of change. The interaction model has really adjusted, you know, it's no longer just about we'll give it to the company and give it to the state. And then maybe something comes back. It za much more coupled interaction back and forth type thing and being able to see how they've modernized and taking their business model right and adapting it for this new or, you know, how do they improve? So that's Ah, there's several of those one in California, one in in Arizona that are really neat about how they could do that and really be able to serve their constituents better

How did the school prepare you for your career? Think about faculty, resources, alumni, exposure & networking. What were the best parts in each of your college programs?

Based on experience at: Master of Business Administration (MBA), Utah State University
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Sep 14 2020
Yeah. So I love learning. Fundamentally. I love learning. Um, do you need two master's degrees to be successful? No. You need the right ability. You need to work hard and keep learning. Uh, I kind of got tired of trying to describe to people. Is I kind of moved up that an M I s m was really, you know, a techno MBA. You know, it just didn't have, you know, you're just not getting through the screeners, right? Yes. You did have a graduate degree, right? Sometimes the applications would say graduate degree preferred, but yeah, I just wasn't the MBA, uh, the other party would say is it's helpful because you learn new things. There are contexts and different things. So some of the courses, you know, that I love learning about bond pricing. Well, I don't use the cap em bond pricing model in any of my projects. Unless I'm working on something in the financial sector. I just don't. But it's good to learn. Doesn't mean that it advances everything I'm doing. Some of the certifications are directly more applicable to that job sector that you're doing or the industry, but it's just continued exposure I believe that if you learn something new, you know you've got it. You may not need it now, but at least you know that something else is out there that you can pull from and use later. If you don't even know it's out there, then you're not gonna be able to go get it. Use it later. The faculty of the resource is in the alumni, like I personally use some of that, but not a ton. So I know some people are much more about hope. I've got all these contacts like I didn't go to like what I call number one or two schools. It wasn't Harvard or Stanford. So for me, um, there's differences in what that networking can do. And before you and other things definitely made some good friends during, you know, all those nights and Friday nights and Saturdays trying to do that exact MBA and some other pieces there. But mostly it's just about, you know, continuing to try to stretch your own mind and yourself and how you can grow and improve. And, you know, if you know today's industry, if you stop growing, you're gonna get left behind pretty quickly.

What three life lessons have you learned over your career? Please discuss the stories behind these lessons, if possible. Stories could be yours or observed.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Sep 14 2020
so I would say the first one is you know, you wanna be ambitious, but you gotta be patient at the same time. Um, there's kind of that saying that you're going to get promoted to your highest level of incompetency. So if you're not really able to do the job, you're going to kind of stop progressing, right? And sometimes we'll see that somebody has been the same role for 15 years. They've never really moved, and they kind of go, Well, why is that? Why am I not going higher? Obviously, you know, there's only a couple of general managers. There's even fewer vice presidents and Microsoft, right? We're not all going to become one of those, um, so there's definitely different pieces within there, but you can continually learn and grow and study and train and do some different pieces. Being patient, I think, is one of the things that you know you don't want to be like, Oh, I think this will take me 12 years to do. But, you know, I want to get promoted in three weeks. Probably not gonna happen after you just got promoted, right? So you've gotta, you know, be realistic and look at that and go well, that's probably a three year cycle for next promotion, So let's break that down. What are the things that I need to do in the next six months in the next year in the next two years, and then kind of have a path for that? But you've got everybody else that's really smart, trying to do the same thing typically. And so you know, it's not always gonna be ableto happen. They sometimes if you know, considering financial and economic situations there and blueprints within the budget and staffing and teams you may you know there might only be three promotions available, so it just depends. So not like getting They're not gonna promote me. I'm out of here, right? Don't cut your loss like balance your patients. But if you're like, hey, this is now, you know a man just told me once now he's told me twice. Now he's told me three times like he's promised something three times and it's never happened. Maybe it's not gonna happen, so there's definitely a balance between that, but you need to have ah, healthy dose of patients. Um, as a program manager, you've got to find a way. It's never fun to be responsible for somebody else's mistake, but you can't take it personally. You just have to figure out How do you adapt, overcome, identify the root problem, figure out what caused it, and then figure out a solution for how you can change. Either the processes or that I mean occasionally have to change people in the teams to make things work better. But if you get emotional as the leader, you drive a lot of emotion into your team. And so being for me, I like to be calm and collected and just say, Okay, let's let's analyze this. Let's figure it out. Let's talk about this offline. Um, and you know, ultimately kind of the third thing for me is you really have to care about your team and your team. Members, like people are people, and I say they could vote with their feet. If you don't have a good team, they'll go to another team or they'll go to another company. And so it's super important that you take care of your team members and you care about them, and people could go from what I call, you know, zero to hero to zero. Right? We have what I call life events. Um, you know, someone's mother could be really ill, and she passes away. Certainly. They're not gonna be at their peak performance of 55 60 hours a week. You know, executing, doing everything they need. Thio, they're gonna have some home distractions. Other things can happen. You know, Children can be born and you need time off. And you're, you know, especially when it's the first child. That could be really difficult as well. Sometimes when people get married and they get divorced and other things so life events happen and you've got to help your team get through those. Otherwise, you know, you're you're gonna be expecting things on a timeline that don't happen. So that kind of sum it up of be patient, you still have to be ambitious. Make sure that you you don't you know, you could take responsibility for other people's mistakes. Figure out of fixing when that your team members and then look at that and then really care about your team and help them go from the everything from, you know, something horrible happens in there kind of a zero performance level, all the way up to hero performance there, your top performer and then sometimes it could go right back down. And that can happen just depending on who and what and how. So you have to really care.

What starting job (after internship) would you recommend to students who hope to grow professionally like you? What other parting advice, dos, and don'ts would you give?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Sep 14 2020
starting job after an internship. So I think internships are fantastic because you might not like project management at all. Like it za stressful job. Like you say, you've got to deliver. There is always time crunches, problems, escalation, like, ah, lot of what you get is just all the problems, right. And occasionally you get a nice, sunny day of success. So you doing an internship is great? Because if you don't like it, if you don't have the style and others, then then you know pretty quickly this isn't for me, right? It was kind of like, if you hey, you know, my dad wants me to be a dentist because he was a dentist. But you go all the way through dental school, and then you find out you hate the sight of blood. Yeah, that wouldn't work out very well. You spend a lot of time doing something that, you know you now need to change. So, uh, starting job internship. Look at it. I mean, project management has its really grown as to what it can be. There are a lot of little small projects, you know, you could be working on a 50 $60,000 project, and you can really start to learn and grow. And then you get larger and more complex and, you know, and then they could grow is, you know, even bigger than that. So you know, they get into the multi millions and hundreds of millions of dollars later, so there's a lot of growth in there, but you've really gotta like what that is. Um, again, the college education, super important. Get the certifications right now, kind of in the project management space. There's this move away from Waterfall into agile and scrum. That's kind of something that's recent within the last 15 years. You've got to know both. In my opinion, I have yet to do any project within the last 20 years that was pure waterfall or pure agile. There's something usually in between. Most of that's because management still stuck in the waterfall space. That's what they know and, you know. Yeah, it doesn't. We've seen if you spend 80% of your time planning to do something that isn't the right thing, and you find out that it's not fitting your business need. We've already spent 80% of your budget doing all that detailed planning, analysis and design. So they're usually somewhere between. You've got to know those you've got to keep going. PM ice kind of the certification agency that's there. There's a couple others in the scrum and agile realm. Um, the agile training stuff, in my opinion, is not really that hard. The PM I stuff a little bit harder. There's a lot of vocabulary. You gotta make sure you understand the intricacies interdependencies of how things work from procedures and such, but definitely get those continue to learn. Any of those certifications typically require continuing education so that you're looking at that. But be curious. Um, go try something. If you don't like it, try something else. So if you don't like that, keep trying until you find what you do like and have a little bit of patients