Women in Project Management

      In 2019, PMIMSL will highlight the achievements and experiences of notable local women in Project Management.



    April


    Zundra Bryant

    Title: Director, Project Management

    Organization: MasterCard

    Sector: IT – Payment Processing

    Can you briefly help us understand your current role?  Lead multi-year, global initiatives and manage team of project management professionals to integrate cross functional services and transition work and associated positions from other corporate business areas into a shared services structure transforming service delivery. 

    What three words best describe you?  Passionate, Innovative, and Strategic 

    How did you get into project management? My first job out of college was in a management training program and I leading projects was part of our training; I was hooked.  You mean I can lead different projects, meet people across the company, and learn new things all time! It was a natural fit and great extension of my Actuarial Science experience from college and internships.  I excelled and pursued project management oriented positions from that point forward.  

    What has been the most exciting project you've worked on? Helping expand and grow shared services at MasterCard both in HR and Finance, gaining exposure to associates across the globe and facilitating transformative interactions by far has been the most exciting project management experience. 

    How has project management been important to your organization? Projects are the mechanism for executing on change and transformation initiatives; having strong Project Management expertise has been vital to the growth and innovation of our company, department, and teams.  

    What is one fun fact we should know about you? I lived in Minnesota my first job out of college and had the opportunity to visit Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis’ recording studio and record the intro to one of their artist’s albums. It was a random, one time experience but so much fun! 

    What is the single most important skill you look for in a project manager? Leadership – it’s a broad competencies but it’s the one thing that makes all the difference navigating new projects in an ever changing business landscape


    What is the best project management punchline you've heard? I start my project management course time saying: People, people, people are the most valuable asset on any project!

    What historical project do you wish you could have worked on? I would have loved being a part of a pyramid being built in Egypt. The ingenuity is amazing.  

    How has your PMI certification(s) help you drive value for your organization? It demonstrates my commitment to the project management profession and continuingly sharpening my skills to deliver results and train others.  I’ve been able to move successfully through multiple roles on different teams successfully and having my PMP has been a competitive advantage.

    Kim Clark

    Title:  Vice President, roject Management Office

    Organization: Maritz

    Sector: IT

    Kim Clark

    Can you briefly help us understand your current role?   

    I am responsible for the Project Management Office, Technical Learning, Marketing and Web Development groups within Maritz IT Services.  

    What three words best describe you?

    Energetic, Determined, Curious

    How did you get into project management?

    Project Management is a natural fit for me but I grew into the practice.      I started out in development.     I quickly realized that I didn’t enjoy being behind the scenes and not interacting with people.   Luckily, I was given the opportunity to move into sales and marketing to promote the products that I was helping develop.     My role in the Sales and Marketing group morphed into a project management role.

    What has been the most exciting project you've worked on?

    I have been involved in so many wonderful and exciting efforts it is very difficult to pinpoint just one.     The projects that I find most exciting are those which allow the resources to showcase their talents and feel proud of their efforts.     It is exciting when projects leave the team members with a sense of accomplishment and pride in the work they accomplished and when the experience builds on their relationships with others.

    How has project management been important to your organization?

    Project Management helps to solidify what IT delivers.    It ensures that we are meeting our strategic objectives by ensuring that the projects that are implemented are in support of our goals and our customers goals.    Project Management has brought structure to chaos.    We are now able to articulate the portfolio of IT efforts, prioritization of these efforts, and resource needs from both an IT and customer perspective and timing.     This has allowed the IT organization to establish a more productive relationship with our customers by ensuring that we present them with organized and transparent facts about the efforts IT is rolling out.   

    What is one fun fact we should know about you?

    I am a thrill seeker.   I haven’t met a roller coaster that I didn’t like.

    What is the single most important skill you look for in a project manager? 

    The ability to communicate and build relationships.   You can be the smartest person in the room but if you can not carry on a meaningful conversation no one will listen to your ideas or follow your guidance.    

     

     



    March


    Trish Rose-Sandler

    Title:  Project Manager

    Organization: Missouri Botanical Garden, Center for Biodiversity Informatics

    Sector: Non-profit/Education/Research


     

    Can you briefly help us understand your current role?

    I work as a project manager in the Center for Biodiversity Informatics (CBI) at the Missouri Botanical Garden (MOBOT) where I conceive of projects and lead teams towards developing value-added services and tools around biodiversity data repositories. I get to work with a global community of life science scholars and better understand their information needs.
    Their research is focused on documenting Earth’s species and understanding the complexities of swiftly-changing ecosystems in the midst of a major extinction crisis and widespread climate change. My goal is to ensure these scholars have the information and tools they need to study, explore and help conserve life on Earth at this critical time.

     

    What three words best describe you?

    collaborative, transparent, learner

     

    How did you get into project management?

    I came into project management through a library path. I’ve always had a passion for libraries because I feel they are one of the few remaining “truly democratic” institutions. They ensure people have access to information regardless of age, gender, income, race, language or physical limitations. When working on my masters in library and information science, I gravitated towards the “digital library” areas such as: knowledge management, taxonomy, digital preservation, information architecture, and user interface design. It seemed to me those were the areas where real innovation was happening in this field. I had some project management responsibilities in my past library jobs but it wasn’t a primary part of my duties. Six years ago I had an opportunity to step into the PM role full time and have never looked back! Project management is really of extension of that desire I have to deliver a high level of service and build superior products and information services for end users. It also taps into my “arranger” strength - I enjoy orchestrating many tasks and people towards a successful outcome.

     

    What has been the most exciting project you've worked on?

    One of my favorites was a project called “Art of Life” in which we were investigating the discovery of images in a literature repository MOBOT helped build called the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL). This repository contains about 55 million pages of historic text pages about plants and animals going all the way back to the 14th century. Approximately 10% of those pages contain incredible natural history illustrations produced by some of the finest botanical and zoological illustrators but are virtually undiscoverable because there is no information about their location in the books or their subject matter. Our goal was to develop algorithms to automatically identify which pages contained images and then use the public to help us describe the content of those images. As a result, we improved access to millions of images for researchers and created a highly-celebrated website, called Science Gossip, which garnered extensive news coverage from over 13 media outlets including Scientific American and Nature Conservancy.

     

    How has project management been important to your organization?

    Most of the money we need to run our projects relies on grant funding – both government and private foundations. Because of this we have pretty tight constraints around budget and scope once we receive a grant. We can’t go back to the funder to ask for more money or change our scope during the project period. Sometimes we can get an extension on the timeline but even then, only under truly extenuating circumstances. This adds a lot of pressure to my work. But by following project management standards and in particular the PMBOK guidelines set forth by PMI, I’ve been successful in working within these constraints and delivering high value for both the grant funders and research community I serve.

     

    What is one fun fact we should know about you?

    I spent my honeymoon in India

     

    What is the single most important skill you look for in a project manager?

    Superior Communication skills – I think it is absolutely key to being a successful project manager because you have to consistently communicate out about the project’s progress to a wide variety of stakeholders with varying levels of detail and frequency. If everyone is kept in the loop about what is happening in a project, successes and roadblocks, there will be much less conflict and confusion. Teams will have the support and flexibility required to respond to issues as they arise and be able to meet the deliverables they committed to.

     

    What historical project do you wish you could have worked on?

    I interviewed for a Project Manager job for the Obama Foundation. The project was to lead the digitization of more than 30 million archive pages and 50,000 artifacts from President Obama's campaigns and administration. Besides the enormous challenge of managing both the physical and digital items, the job would have involved strategizing with other stakeholders on how the digital archive would be made accessible through the Barack Obama Presidential Center. While I didn’t get the position, it was exciting just to be interviewed and to consider the possibility of being a part of preserving and making accessible such a significant archival collection in our country’s history.

     

    What is most rewarding about projects?

    One of my favorite parts of a project is the closure stage because I love bringing my team together and evaluating what we did well but also how we could work together more effectively. Opportunities to reflect on the work we do are often not prioritized in our day to day work but it is critically important to helping us improve and grow. (Update: Trish recently accepted a position as Project Manager at Nestlé’s NBE Program Management Office based at their IT headquarters in St Louis.)

     


    February


    Carolyn Traband 

    Title:  Technology Program Office Manager

    Organization: InterVision

    Sector: Technology Solutions Provider

     


    Carolyn T rt cell

    Can you briefly help us understand your current role?

    As a Technology Solutions Provider, InterVision offers Cloud, Managed and Professional Services. Our vision is to transform business through the evolutionary power of technology. We offer a wide variety of technology products and services and are constantly bringing new products to market. I am currently responsible for managing a PMO which provides project management, resource scheduling, voice and circuit provisioning and onboarding services to the organization in support of our clients. The PMO consists of three functional teams and I have the privilege to manage a great group. Since 2017, we have experienced tremendous growth as a part of a merger and several acquisitions. The PMO interfaces with multiple functional teams in the organization (finance, operations, engineering, sales, etc.) as well as with hundreds of clients. A major focus for the PMO in the last eighteen months is to merge our processes and products and bring our teams together. I like to keep my project management skills “sharp” and often lead internal initiatives. I am currently working on an exciting project to select a vendor to integrate all the various company systems that resulted from the merger and acquisitions.

     

    What three words best describe you?
    Organized
    Persistent
    Detailed
     

     

    How did you get into project management?

    I started my technology career in an IT engineering and support role but naturally gravitated toward project management. Early in my career, I had the privilege of working for a company that was experiencing tremendous growth and I was exposed to multiple areas in the IT department. After participating as a project team member on multiple projects, I started managing small engineering and support efforts for my team. I had some great mentors and continued to manage projects and grow my skill set. I found my passion! 

     

    What has been the most exciting project you've worked on?

    It’s hard to pick just one! During my career, I’ve had the opportunity to work on many exciting projects. If I had to pick one, I would say that early in my career I led the effort to roll out new technology hardware to approximately 5,000 domestic and 300 international branches. This included managing the integration vendor selection process for North America, United Kingdom and Germany. Three pilot phases were completed (total of 22 branches) to test the implementation processes and technical architecture. From there, we rolled out the new technology to the top 50 airports in North America. This enabled us to validate the integration vendor processes. The results of this project provided the branch field offices with technology to improve customer service.

    I think part of the reason this project was so exciting was I was given a “blank slate” to work from and developed many processes, procedures and best practices that were adopted by other teams and used for other projects. I enjoyed worked with a wide variety of people throughout IT, Corporate business areas, branch offices and vendors. I learned a lot about considerations that need to be taken into consideration for international project efforts.

     


    How has project management been important to your organization?

    As a Technology Solution Provider, having Project Managers with PMP certifications is a great “selling point” and distinguisher. Our clients are looking for and paying for a seamless delivery of services. By providing a structured project methodology and framework, the PMO is a key contributor to ensuring client satisfaction.Project management has helped to deliver internal efforts and raise visibility to the value a project manager brings to the table. Bringing structure and discipline helps to “get things done”. A good project manager knows how to ‘herd the cats”!

     

    What is one fun fact we should know about you?

    I am a big “prankster”. I love to have play tricks on my co-workers and family!

     


    What is the single most important skill you look for in a project manager?

    Communication Skills. A Project Manager needs to have outstanding verbal and written communication skills. A Project Manager needs to be comfortable being able to deliver both the good and bad news (i.e. issue, timeline change, etc.). Also, being able to adjust their communication style based on their audience (i.e. CEO, Clients, team members and peers). Establishing a solid communication plan in a project helps to set expectations and contributes to the success of a project.

     

    What is the best project management punchline you've heard?
    I have three punchlines that I refer to often:
    • Never “Assume” (we all know what that stands for)
    • Trust but verify
    • “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” – Einstein

    What is most rewarding about projects?
    I love the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction in contributing to the successful delivery of a service or solution to a client. Knowing that you have met client expectations and delivered the “WOW” to move their business forward is a great feeling!

     


    Leslie Whitlock, SAFe(SA)PMP

    Title:  Director of Program Management – Strategy and Transformation

    Organization: Express-Scripts

    Sector: Healthcare

    Leslie

     

    Can you briefly help us understand your current role?

    My role is to provide organizational leadership around ensuring strategic alignment, determining prioritization and value; and execution planning of our home delivery pharmacy’s initiatives that align with our strategic business framework.  In addition, I have the privilege of managing a team of amazing program and project managers who partner with our business owners, key stakeholders and technology partners to execute and deliver project value. Finally, I am the business owner of our operations CORE program, a job rotational leadership development program for front-line leaders designed to advance their skills in leading self, leading others and leading change – preparing them for their next level up.  Developing talent is something I am passionate about, so I am thrilled to have that opportunity.

    What three words best describe you?

    Compassionate, authentic and persistent

    How did you get into project management?

    If you think about it, project management is really a part of our everyday lives. Beginning in school while working on a group project with classmates, to working with your family to accomplish projects at home, to working with colleagues professionally to deliver business value. So it’s always been a part of me.  However, my first close formal exposure to a project management organization was when I was in Product Management as a business owner. In that role I worked closely with an amazing project manager and Business Analyst and learned a lot from both of those ladies.  We delivered Auto Refills for Express Scripts which brought tons of value to the company and peace of mind to patients.  That’s when I knew that I enjoyed working on key initiatives and accepted a Program Management role. 

    What has been the most exciting project you've worked on?

    I’ve worked on a few key strategic projects that really excited me. When I think about the common characteristics each had to make them so much fun to work on, each were projects that were transformative in the way we do business as well as our impact on the market.  Any project that puts our customers first, provides them with peace of mind and strengthens our market position is a project that I want to be a part.  For example, thanks to the collaborative, awesome work of many, we recently delivered on a key strategic project that expanded our presence to a completely new customer base – pets! 

    How has project management been important to your organization?

    Our goal is the become THE Pharmacy of Choice, where new markets and new customers recognize us as a pharmacy leader both in quality and speed to delivery. Effective project management is critical to our organization’s ability to deliver that strategic value and achieve our goals.

    What is one fun fact we should know about you?

    My first job after getting my MBA was working for Union Pacific Railroad as a team leader in the National Customer Service Center. As a part of my training, I actually got a chance to work as a switch person coupling box cars to build trains, as well as a locomotive engineer actually driving and operating the locomotive of the freight train in Searcy Arkansas. Second to project management, that was the most exciting job experience.

    What is the single most important skill you look for in a project manager?

    Being an excellent communicator.  Many studies have shown that project managers spend 90% of their time communicating some aspect of their project.  Developing an effective communications plan and artifacts are essential – whether it’s effective communications via an executive summary status, or communicating risks, actions, issues and decisions; or the plan, it’s critical to be able to tailor communications effectively and often both in writing and verbally with all key stakeholders across all levels of the organization. You can have a strong overall skillset, but without effective communications, there’s a great chance the project will suffer. Communications is the essence of project management.

     



    January


    Joanna Eagan

    Joanna Eagan, PMP

    Title:  Senior Manager Human Resources, Strategic Planning & Operations

    Organization: Core & Main

    Sector: Distribution

     

    Can you briefly help us understand your current role? 

    Strategic Planning and Operations for Human Resources, and Mergers and Acquisitions

    Core & Main was divested in 2017 to private equity, which meant our Human Resources function had to be created from the ground up.  My role was to facilitate our independent stand up, develop plans and efficient processes to support our associates and business objectives over the long-term, plus develop and implement technology that aligns with our business/strategic goals.  We have a huge focus on talent with our shifting demographics and my role is to enable us to analyze people analytics to allow us to stay one step ahead of the shift. Another area that has been particularly interesting is the strategic analysis and decisions related to benefits by embracing innovative benefit offerings and developing plans to target cost savings opportunities across the country. With M&A, we are determining the impact of the acquisition as it relates to the people being acquired and our internal workforce.  This requires cross functional project management to drive the deal to sign and close. Often times, I wear multiple hats that I have to quickly take off and put back on in order to address the particular need.


    What three words best describe you?

    Compassionate, Determined, Resilient

     


    How did you get into project management?

    I sort of fell into it.  I was working in corporate finance, responsible for financial planning and analysis type work as well as various projects, implementations, etc. My manager and CFO asked if I would lead a new project team that would drive large cross-functional projects shared by finance and IT, varying from large systems implementations to cost/time saving initiatives.  I was skeptical about my passion for it at first, but then quickly realized it was in my wheel house, so I decided to study for the PMP [Project Management Professional] exam.  At a certain point, based on where I was in my personal and professional aspirations, I left the corporate world to run the business side of a private school here in St. Louis as the Director of Finance and Business Operations.  There I continued to utilize my natural project management tendencies until I received a call from my former human resources leader proposing a role in HR that would help the organization stand up while taking on a new business objective of multiple acquisitions.  It was intriguing and an opportunity that appealed to my inner drive learn something completely new.  So I quickly found myself putting on a PM hat again, but with a new twist.  I’m definitely not a traditional PM, but I enjoy the new and different--and applying a deep knowledge of finance, operations, human resources and acquisitions.  I feel like it will prove to be invaluable experience as I progress in my career.

     

    What has been the most exciting project you've worked on?

    Standing up this new organization has been extremely exciting. Every day I’m soaking up more and more.  Our organization had to stand up core HR functions in less than two months: payroll, benefits, etc. for 3000+ associates.  For the first year we would put out one fire only to address several others that were smoldering in the wings.  There was never a dull moment.  On top of stand-up, we are doing multiple acquisitions.  That part has been an extremely fun rollercoaster ride.  Each acquisition is different, and some don’t materialize, but the opportunity to learn about the world of acquisitions has been very rewarding.


    How has project management been important to your organization?

    Because there have been so many balls in the air in order to stand up the organization, project management has been key to allowing us to prioritize and keep our team on track.  At times it felt like we were drinking from a fire hose as we attempted to set up every function of a large organization’s HR processes.  It was and is critical to keep leaders on track and utilize every second of time efficiently.  Wasting time is not an option.

     


    What is one fun fact we should know about you?

    I’m a winemaker and a beekeeper.


    What is the single most important skill you look for in a project manager?

    Ability to be in the weeds, but also step out of them and see the bigger picture.  People often are too personally invested to see the full picture. As project managers, I believe it’s critical to understand the problem you are trying to solve and know the impact from five immediate steps to one year, or 10 years down the road as best you can.  The ability to identify a potential issue and quickly offer suggestions as alternate best courses of action, allows PMs to be valued not only for their organizational skills, but also on their ability to advise leaders.   

     

    Have you seen an increase in project managers who are women at your organization?

    Yes and no, many who have sort of fallen into it but I’m not certain they are PMI certified.   It seems to reside more on the IT side.


    What is the best project management punchline you've heard?

    Most people spend more time and energy going around problems than trying to solve them. –Henry Ford


    What is most rewarding about projects?

    Definitely seeing the impact you made upon completion.  Knowing that, because you were able to see the big picture and organize the individual parts, you created/accomplished something amazing!