Efficiency and leadership are essential practices for any industry. Since project managers can work with companies of all sizes and across any industry, mastering these skills is especially important. Project managers are trained to help companies and organizations accomplish specific goals on time and on budget.
Gina Abudi has years of experience helping to improve organizations and shares her expertise below by providing some background about her storied career. She also offers advice to professionals who are just starting their project management career path.
I have a Bachelor’s from Montclair State University and a MBA from Simmons College Graduate School of Management. My background is varied and, besides project management, includes operations, process improvement, leadership and human resources. I have done a variety of projects for companies of all sizes, including global organizations.
This has included implementing Project Management Offices, 360 degree feedback projects, facilitating strategic leadership meetings and facilitating project team off-sites and kick off meetings. I love the variety of initiatives I work on and the impact I can make within an organization.
Back on my one of my first jobs I inquired why a project was being run the way it was when I thought it could be done much more efficiently. Lo and behold, one of the managers slapped me on the back and said “Knock yourself out” and he “handed” me the reins. I learned a lot. I also learned that I’m way too organized and detailed-oriented and, frankly, that makes for a good project manager. But you need to see the big picture too and I do that effectively. Every project I work on I can tell you how it aligns to the organization’s long term strategy; too often project management take on a project without understand where it fits into the big picture. That’s a problem.
I’ve been managing projects forever some would say. Currently I spend much of my time working with executives and Boards to help them to take a more strategic approach to project management - basically how to take a project management approach to getting the work within the business done. This includes developing best practices and processes around project management and developing customized training programs on managing projects for all levels of employees. The executives and Boards often see the value (ROI) of taking a more strategic approach to project management fairly quickly.
I’ve actually been involved in PMI since, I believe, 2006. Prior to serving as the President, I was recruited to serve in the President-Elect role. That was more operationally focused; whereas the President role is more strategic. I’m in this role for 2 years. It’s challenging and takes about 10 - 12 hours a week of my time (for no pay!). We have lots of change happening though so that accounts for part of it. We changed our bylaws and are still getting our way around how to work effectively as a more strategic board that also needs to be a bit “hands on” until we can get others up to speed.
I love the networking with the members and I feel that is the most important part of my role. We are making lots of changes in the chapter based on casual conversations with members that enables us to learn what they want. After all, it is all about the members! Through my role I’ve also been reaching out to universities in the Boston area and spending time talking with students about the value of project management - no matter what their major is. It’s great when you see someone have that “ah ha” moment! I particularly enjoy in my role the ability to connect with such a great group of members. Additionally, I’ve developed strong partnerships with our “sister” chapters and the information sharing and best practices that goes back and forth is so valuable.
From my perspective, what I find most rewarding is showing leaders the value that taking a project management approach within the organization has on the bottom line. And I also find it very rewarding when I can help a more junior project manager be successful at managing a complex initiative. Every organization I have worked with - from smaller companies to large global organizations - I have been able to show the value of taking the time to socialize projects before they are launched and in getting the team together to get to know each other and establish a strong working relationship. These are so essential to project success and I find that companies are really “getting it” these days!
As project managers there is so much opportunity to get to know everyone in the organization and establish strong relationships which helps to increase project success. Let’s face it, as a project manager you just can’t tell someone what to do! If you haven’t established relationships with others, you aren’t going to be able to accomplish what you need to in your role. When I see those project managers I coach get that - I am so excited!
Step up and take initiative! Too often those just starting out focus on the technical skills of project management. Focus on those so very important critical (soft) skills too! If you are just getting involved in project management, consider these best practice ideas: