When weighing education options, it is helpful to look at cases studies of highly skilled professionals in order to get a closer look inside a specific career. This year’s Super Bowl was one event where project management students could definitely learn about what it takes to achieve excellence in the field. Consider the impeccable talent, stamina, and knowledge Allison Melangton brought to the table as CEO of the 2012 Super Bowl host committee.
Writing job descriptions and filling openings is part of any project manager’s job. Getting it right the first time was essential in this case since there would have been little time to make staff adjustments. To create the strongest possible teams, Melangton made sure that each new hire knew they were going to be paid a set salary; that there would be long hours as the game approached; and that each person was expected to be versatile to fill in as needed. She used the hiring process to actively create teams that were committed, skilled, and resilient.
In the case of the Super Bowl, the entire project needed to be planned out from start to finish, with room for changes. Infrastructure, in general, has to support the pace of the project, the possible need for adjustments, and be able to logically play out in a sequence of events that come together with each other seamlessly.
Creating infrastructure for a project is like a composer creating a large musical score for an orchestra. The piece only comes together if the players know when and how to play their parts. From budgetary considerations, to permits and legal issues, to setting up crews and renting equipment, efficient infrastructure is vital to orchestrating a successful project.
Once the project is planned and in place, the project manager needs to be sure that the coordination of events runs like clockwork. Securing excellent communication with all stakeholders is one of the signs of a mature project manager. Anticipating and planning for unforeseen obstructions, and having contingency plans in place is time well spent.
You might remember the 2011 Super Bowl incident where 1200 fans arrived at the Super Bowl only to find their seats were not available. Contingency plans were not adequate and some fans actually missed the game. While some events are unavoidable and there will always be some challenges, this sort of project management mishap should be avoided at all costs. Luckily this year, the entire event ran smoothly without any major glitches. In this case the “luck” was a result of hard work and a seasoned team of project managers working together synergistically to make sure no details were left to chance.
It is the job of a project manager to know where the snares in the details lie and how to avoid getting snagged by them. Of course, a CEO must rely on carefully constructed teams of managers to keep ears to the ground and eyes constantly scanning for any potential problems. In a project as large as putting together a Super Bowl, so much is at stake that regular communication and long hours create team cohesion, where the momentum builds as coordinated efforts achieve one timeline goal after the other.
Each team member brings a unique contribution to the overall success of the team. Whether it was safety, transportation, lighting, concessions, seating, or any of the other thousands of details, each team member held a piece of the success story in his or her own hands. Additionally, they possessed many of the core skills of successful project managers. This list of skills should interest any student of project management for his or her own career development.
While many career changers and students are drawn to project management because it is versatile with many career options, there is still fierce competition for the top jobs. Studying the success of seasoned project managers and CEO’s like Super Bowl host committee CEO Allison Melangton can be extremely insightful. Honing in on the education, skills, and experiences you need to secure your place among the best of the best means creating a proactive plan for your own professional success.
Obtaining a reputable education from a regionally accredited online degree program is one way to set your skills apart from the competition. In addition, joining a professional organization like the Project Management Institute can open many doors. This organization has local chapters, events for networking, career coaching, volunteer opportunities, and other professional development opportunities like webinars, and conferences.
While opportunities to join an elite team like the one that orchestrated the 2012 Super Bowl may be few and far between, the point is that most of those project managers started where you are. With a plan that includes active networking, a reputable education, and professional development leading to increasing complex projects, you too can obtain the skills needed for the elite assignments. For more information about job outlook and specific career paths you can take a look at articles in the Bureau of Labor Statistics. With an increasingly global marketplace, impeccable project management skills and a great education can literally take you around the world.