Craig Brown has worked as a project manager and business analyst mainly in the Australian ITC, and Banking industries. He has also worked in the law, education and welfare industries. Craig writes a great blog at betterprojects.net.
Josh: Thank you so much for sharing your background and experience with the pmStudent community Craig! How did you get your start in Project Management?
Craig: After graduating in the early-mid nineties I started working for a phone company in a call centre. In the team I was inducted with there were a great range of talented people who all went on to other IT roles. My story is just one of them, but this start gives a hint to a pattern ? of surrounding yourself (sometimes accidentally) with motivated and clever people.
In this role me and my colleagues would try to excel rather than just turn up, and we have a manager that challenged us to ?be more useful? rather than to hit the local KPIs. As a result a handful of us started delving into product manuals and investigating business processes in our downtimes. Me and two other guys in particular started to pester management with ideas of how to do things better. It was done in a constructive manner, even though upper management might have thought us presumptuous. Eventually we started to get other small project jobs and a combination of our motivation, attitude and skills led us all into project roles.
For me this led to a team focuses on operational process improvement. Which then naturally led to technology enhancements. At first these were minor and gradually grew.
Josh: Who do you look up to and have learned a lot from in relation to project management?
Craig: I have worked with a handful of what I consider to be great program directors and managers. Three that come to mind are Andrew Murray, Mohan Victor and Mike Augello. There are plenty of others who were great to work with and who taught me valuable lessons, but the things these guys shared with me were a really outstanding commitment to delivering your clients/customers an excellent experience as well as a high quality product at the end of your project. (Actually now I have named names I should include a few others; Annette Finck, Greg Reeves-Smith, James Mahoney, and the ist goes on..)
I also have to say I have made some really valuable contacts online ? Glenn Alleman of the Herding Cats blog and Capers Jones of SEI have offered a ton of information and insight and been very approachable. Many other software and project management names have also been very welcoming and helpful when I have asked.
Choose to work with great people and reach out online. There is plenty of assistance out there.
Josh: What course work or education would you recommend?
Craig: I think two degrees helps; one to get you started and one maybe a decade later to push you from intermediate to advanced. A commitment to continuous learning is crucial.
Get involved in local or online communities. Find the opportunity to teach others what you know ? it sharpens your thoughts when you have to stand up and face an audience of professionals.
Lastly, write an article at PM Student on a regular basis. In particular focus on an area you are weak on, and the need to research the article will elevate your professional knowledge.
Josh: What is your advice regarding online versus in-class education and training for project management?
Craig: People like online learning. I don?t think a paid online class is for me. I would get better value from a book and even more from face to face interaction. It probably works for others and definitely is a simple way to get a certification.