The Drum Roll Please.......
On Wednesday, December 17, 2008, we hosted “Believe In Yourself Day.” We asked people to share their stories of overcoming adversity. We also offered a number of other ways to participate in the Believe in Yourself day. For those who participated in the other activities, they were given three courses (total 23 PDUs or 2.3 CEUs). We also offered 60 PDUs or a free PMP online course for the winner of our adversity story activity. We got some fantastic stories so we extended it to a first, second and third place winner. We rated each story based on level of adversity to overcome, perseverance, and guts. Here are their stories:
First Place – The Ugly Duckling
Several Years Ago, I Entered The Project Management (PM) Space Quite By Accident. I Was In Career Transition, So I Moved To Another City In To Take A Job In A Heavy Engineering (EPC) Environment. Much Of The Work Involved Large Capital Projects And I Was Involved With Providing Financial Planning And Analysis. About One Year Later, The Work Emphasis Shifted To Project Controls. Further, New Boss Told Me That I Had To Start From Scratch And That Nothing I Did, Or Studied Before Mattered. Because I Hold An MBA, My Assumption Was That I Knew PM. How Wrong I Was! For A Number Of Years, I Knuckled Under, Learning About Earned-value, Seeking Mentors And Applied These Principles To My Work. My Financial Background Served As A Bridge Into ! Knowledge
Areas Like Cost And Risk. Next, I Earned A One-year Certificate In PM At A University Extension; Ironically, The Same Boss Who Told Me I Did Not Know PM Was In The Same Class! I Finished Near The Top Of My Class And Was Even Asked By My Instructors To Apply As An Instructor. Eventually, I Began To Co-lead Projects Along With Project Engineers.This Year, 2008, I Attended The Cheetah Exam Prep For The PMP And Passed On The Fifth Day! I Have Also Have Earned A PM Certification Through The International Project Management Association. Finally, I Have Been Trained in The Lean Six Sigma Method Of Process Improvement. Interestingly Enough, PM Quality Planning, Quality Assurance, And Quality Control Can Use Lean Six Sigma As A Firm Foundation. In Summary, I went From Being Despondent About My Career, A Non-CPA Battling A Horde Of CPA’s For The Better Finance Jobs, To A Double-certified PM In The Hot Energy Sector.
Second Place – Sharing My Gifts.
Demonstrating Unique Talents In Business And Personal Life Can Provide You With Unusual Opportunities. The Following Story Has The Creativity Of A Non Discipline Mixed With The Strategy Of A Project Manager And A Well Defined Discipline.My Story Is About Winning Second Place In A National Gift Wrapping Contest. I Have Always Had A Creative Perspective In My Career And My Life In General. A Friend Told Me Of A Contest For Persons With Unique Gift Wrapping Skills. Sure I Have Created Some Impressive Looking Gifts However I Surely Could Not Compete With Professionals Or Others More Creative Than I.I Decided To Approach The Opportunity As I Do My Career, As A Project Manager For A Large Financial Organization. This Contest Was Going To Be My Personal Unique Project. The Entry Required The Completion Of A 100 Word Essay On Why I Should Be Chosen For The Contest. Again Like Any Good Project Manager, I Looked At Who My Customer Was The Scope Of The Project And Implementation Alternatives.I Completed The Initiation Phase Of The Project By Analyzing The Contest Sponsor, Their Business, Customers And Products. Using An Eye Catching Graphic I Completed The Essay And To My Surprise Was Selected As One Of The 8 Contestants. As A Contestant I Was Flown To New York City For The Weekend Of The Contest Along With My Family. Accommodations And Typical Tourist Activities Were Planned And Compensated By The Sponsor. Along With Three Other Amateurs And Four Professionals We Were Shown The Gifts For The Next Day’s Wrapping Contest. Putting My Project Management Hat Back On, Out Came The Work Break Down Structure, Net Work Diagrams, Requirements Traceability And Control Plan. I Knew As A Methodical Manner I Could Execute Projects However Was Not Sure Of The Mix With Creativity.The Day Of The Contest My Family Served As My Testing Analysts Holding Me To The Planned Designs. Under The Pressure Of The Timed Wrapping Event They Proved To Be A Valuable Asset (as All Testing Is). After Three Progressive Rounds I Was Matched Against The Best Professional Gift Wrapper.The Last And Final Round Proved Too Much For My Design And Materials. Coming In Second Place Netted A Cash Prize, An All Expenses Paid Weekend In New York City And Multiple Local Media Events. The Exposure Of The Contest Lasted Three Years And Additional Unexpected Financial Gains.Project Management Is A Rewarding And Creative Career If You Allow It. With The Award As Winner Of This Contest And The 60PDUs I Plan To Schedule My PMP Exam And Become A CCPM (Creative And Certified Project Manager).
Third Place – Cheaper by the Dozen
It Took Me Several Years To Really Believe In Myself. Growing Up In A Very Large Family (12 children), My Life Led Me Down A Path Of Entering The Workforce At An Early Adult Age But Only Securing Basic Education, College Was Not An Option. I Loved Working And Really Wanted A “career”. In Certain Circles I Was Told That Not Having A College Degree Would Be A Detriment To Me And I Would Never Get Anywhere. I Pondered Those Comments Because I Wanted To Suceed And Make Money (I Was Doing Secretarial And Administrative Work At This Time)! Throughout The Years Taking A Few College Classes Worked Out But Never Quite Made It To That “degree”. Knowing I Was A Responsible, Smart, Hardworking Girl, I Continued To Make My Way Through The Corporate World Taking Classes Where Offered At My Place Of Employment, Offering To Fill In For Other Positions Where I Could To Learn New Stuff. If Anything I Was Reliable, Kept My Word And Could Learn Just About Anything. Organization And Communication Came Natural To Me And As Project Management Became More Commonplace, I Decided That I Had The Unique Strengths That Applied To That. Being From A Large Family And Working In Many Diverse Markets, I’m Very Comfortable With Communication And People In General. Starting Out As A Project Coordinator, I Was Soon Asked To Fill In For A Project Manager That Was On Maternity Leave. After She Came Back, Some Of Her Projects Stayed With Me. I Was Eventually Promoted To Project Manager. Still Have A Lot To Learn, Not Diminishing The Importance Of A Good Education, I Feel It All Paid Off For Me. If I Would Have Let The “no College Degree Label” Hang On, I Don’t Think I Would Have Even Applied For A Project Manager Position But I Did Because I Knew I Had Other Really Good Strengths Such As Competent Communication, Follow-thru, Adaptability And Years Of Experience As A Professional.