Patti Mclaughlin, The PgMP

Patti Mclaughlin image

In this episode, I have a chat with Patti Mclaughlin, The PgMP.

Patti is the 862nd person to obtain the Program Management Professional (PgMP) certification out of 2770 people in the world as of February 2019.  She have a passion for the PM profession and truly loves what she does.

Born in Canada and after years living on the East Coast, Patricia McLaughlin (Patti), relocated to Evergreen, CO in 2009.  Described as a global, compliance, implementation project and program manager, she enjoys mentoring and sharing industry best practices. She received a Bachelor’s degree from Towson University and earned certifications in project and program management.  

To listen to the podcast click below (or one of the links at the bottom of this post)

For more information about Patti take a look at the following links:


Thanks to Patti for sharing her journey with us, until next time remember project management is funny. 




Unknown Speaker  0:00  
So today I'd like to welcome to the Sunday lunch project podcast. Patti McLachlan, I hope I said that right. p amp G and PG MP. Born in Canada, and after years of living on the East Coast, Patricia, known as Patti relocated to evergreen, CO, which I think is Colorado. This is my geography not great in 2009 described as a global compliance implementation project manager programme manager. She enjoys mentoring and sharing industry best practices. She's received a bachelor's degree from Tucson University and instil in project and programme management. She's worked at places such as TELUS Marriott, international and Western Union, and was the 860 second person to obtain the PMI SPGMP, the programme management, professional certification and works in the project management profession and also provides mentoring through the PMI. So welcome to the show. Patty.

Unknown Speaker  1:06  
Thank you so much. I'm happy to be here.

Unknown Speaker  1:09  
Brilliant. So let's start right at the beginning of when Patty appeared in Canada. We're in Canada and what with what what? Tell me about calendar calendar in your early times.

Unknown Speaker  1:22  
Sure. So I was born in Renfrew, Ontario, Canada. That's a little small town about an hour west of Ottawa, the capital, and Renfrew is most known for actually hockey tape. So I'm a big hockey fan. And if you wonder where all those hockey players get their hockey tape from, it's my little my little town of Renfro,

Unknown Speaker  1:48  
so it's a Brit over here. Obviously, you being Canadian, you have to be a hockey hockey fan. I think it's part of the jeans isn't it? But what's hockey tape?

Unknown Speaker  1:57  
So hockey tape is used on the hockey sticks. And you know, just helps the hockey players give them support have the have the to shoot that puck and I am a big hockey fan. I have a cousin and my family that played professional hockey for the Calgary Flames. And now I'm actually now we cheer for the New York teams. It's playoff hockey season here in the US and my husband's from New York. So we cheer for the New York teams. But hockey is a big part of our lives watching it now and going to games.

Unknown Speaker  2:35  
Roots brilliance. Did you play hockey? Sup?

Unknown Speaker  2:38  
No, I didn't. I just love watching it and, and didn't didn't do it myself. But I do enjoy ice skating.

Unknown Speaker  2:49  
Right. That's, that's a whole Yeah, I'm like Bambi on ice when I my skating. So that's quite different, different experiences there. So you said you in you said New York there and I said that you'd relocated to evergreen co which is that Colorado is that right? You

Unknown Speaker  3:08  
know, I I do live in evergreen Colorado now. And it's it's reminds me my town reminds me a lot of growing up in Canada, because we just had, we just had snow a week ago. So it still comes and goes here. But evergreen is about 20 minutes away from Denver. And we're knowing our towns known in the foothills, so we're kind of like, if you heard of some of the big ski resorts in Colorado like Vail or Breckenridge, you would fly into Denver and kind of pass our town and, and head up to the ski resorts. So we were usually about 10 degrees cooler than Denver, and it's a nice little town with we have a lot of wildlife here. Walking through the neighbourhood. And it's it's a it's a nice place to live.

Unknown Speaker  4:02  
Brilliant. So you see you there. You've got and you mentioned your husband Nirvana. We were talking before you. You have a little and as well what was family for you then?

Unknown Speaker  4:12  
Sure. So I have been married to my husband Ryan for six years. And we have a two year old. He's almost two and a half son named Turin. And he loves he loves to play keeps me busy. We also have a cat and a fish. All of my all of our parents are back on the east coast of the US in New York area, Florida, Pennsylvania area. And then the rest of my immediate family also still resides in Canada.

Unknown Speaker  4:53  
Right. Cool. So you spread around quite a lot then.

Unknown Speaker  4:57  

Unknown Speaker  4:58  
So you said you grew up Renfrew. What was what

Unknown Speaker  5:02  
was it like growing up in Renfrew, Ontario.

Unknown Speaker  5:05  
So growing up and ran through was really, it was really fun. We spent a lot of time growing up with my grandparents, they had a huge farm and most weekends are spent out, you know, playing outside, jumping in, hey, gardening have been around animals just just, you know, really doing a lot of stuff outside. I know that I'd love to ride my bike around the neighbourhood. You know, I had a lot of friends in school. And, you know, I I, the funny thing is, I always remember going to school almost in a snow suit. I think my son's gonna be like that, too. Now growing up in Colorado, but we just, you know, we did a lot of a lot of stuff outdoors. And then when my when I was 12. My mom remarried. And we moved to the US. So I relocated with her. And my stepfather. We moved lived in Maryland. So we moved to Gaithersburg, Maryland, at the beginning of seventh grade for me, right. And then I went to high school and college in Maryland, and then moved to Virginia for a couple of years. And then I ended up in Colorado in 2009.

Unknown Speaker  6:33  
So you've travelled a little bit than

Unknown Speaker  6:35  
I have, I haven't done, you know, travelled and living different places. And then I also enjoy travelling and kind of years ago before, when I had a little bit more time, you know, I've been to Europe a couple of times, and just cruises vacations just like to go out and do and see stuff. Nice. Nice. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker  7:00  
So we know this time when you were in Renfrew, when you're in Maryland. What did you want to be when you grew up? Was it a project manager?

Unknown Speaker  7:11  
No, you know, it's funny, when I think about a project manager growing up, I don't even think I knew what a project manager was a you know, I just like, even even through school or college when I was going, it wasn't really a an area of study. You know, I don't even think I've heard that new project manager or heard that term. So I think when I was really young, you know, when you have like, when you go through school, sometimes you have those, those every year, you take a school picture and you get like, what do you want to be? When I look back at those, I think initially, I wanted to be a teacher. And then I wanted to be a lawyer. Which, you know, that didn't pan out. But I think, I think when, when I was in high school, I actually had a really great business teacher. And I was taking, like some of the business related classes. And I remember in high school, I won this like little award for my business classes. And I think that's when I really became like, interested in more Business, Business Management and getting an understanding of kind of what goes on, in, in business. And I, to this day, I still think one of the most important classes I took in high school was typing.

Unknown Speaker  8:33  

Unknown Speaker  8:35  
Yeah, I can, I can empathise with that. I remember doing that. And well, back when I was doing it was on a mechanical typewriter. But means that typing emails these days, or status reports is a bit quicker than some other people I see across the desk, sometimes.

Unknown Speaker  8:53  
It's a benefit.

Unknown Speaker  8:55  
It definitely is. Yeah, so those are kind of my initial and then I, you know, then as I moved into college, I, I, you know, you try to go into school and and pick a major have an idea of where you where you should be going, at least I wanted to when I when I started college. And so then I, I chose my major to be Business Administration. And one of the things that we had to pick was kind of a concentration and it could have been just management or it could have been marketing, or it could have been human resource management. And I just chose management because I wasn't quite sure exactly what I wanted to do. So that kind of gave me a more general approach of classes, I could take and see different areas of business to focus on. And it turned out to be a good major for me going forward.

Unknown Speaker  9:57  
So you were, you were kind of setting yourself up for project management, but without the project bit.

Unknown Speaker  10:04  
I was without knowing what still what a project manager was, you know, when I think back to those days, I you know, I don't? I really don't think I I know exactly when I when I found out when I'm what a project manager was, which will probably touch on in a little bit. But back back in college, I can't say I really knew what one was that then. Yeah, it's

Unknown Speaker  10:29  
not a surprise. It's, it's

Unknown Speaker  10:33  
Yeah, I've yet to speak someone who is.

Unknown Speaker  10:37  
Well, my my children told me they don't know what I do for a living anyway. So I think it's it is quite an odd concept, the project manager as a general thing, so you saying you did you majored in, in in management, and so was that in. So I said to Sonny is that Towson University Tucson University. It is. I said, Coulson

Unknown Speaker  11:01  
University, which is in Towson, Maryland, and it's right, it's very close to Baltimore. So I was there for four years and ended mine got a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with my content concentration in management. And then, you know, in terms of just education afterwards, once I began working in the project manager role, then I focused on continuing my education, with certifications. As you mentioned, my project management professional, my PMP certification, I got that in 2009. And then the programme management certification in 2013.

Unknown Speaker  11:49  

Unknown Speaker  11:51  
So if you went to to you did your business administration, you, you mentioned that you were you were thinking about being a lawyer, another didn't work out, was that something you you started to go down towards? Or was it just kind of just not something that you thought you would go for? it? Was everyone there?

Unknown Speaker  12:10  
I think it I think just, I think there were a couple things that kind of steered me in a in a different direction. You know, as I got older, I realise just how much schooling was involved in doing that. And I think back then, honestly, I wasn't, you know, being a project manager, I've certainly gained more confidence in terms of just communication and speaking. But, you know, there was a point in time where you think about, you know, a teacher speaking in front of a classroom or, you know, a lawyer speaking in front of a courtroom, and all those people staring at you. Yeah, I think back then, I just wasn't, you know, that kind of just steered me in a different direction. And I just didn't, I think it was, you know, I, I was looking at business management or it for the lawyer route, it probably would have been the criminal justice path. And then as I got kind of closer to high school, I figured, well, maybe I'd have more opportunities, going the business route. Yeah, sounds

Unknown Speaker  13:21  
like a logic. There's lots of different twists and turns on what makes us step different way. So obviously, you didn't jump jump out of university with a project management degree, diving into do a project manager, and you probably would have struggled to find what, and I see a couple of roles before you a project manager. And Jonas, tell us about your first role, then.

Unknown Speaker  13:45  
Sure, sure. So, you know, when I, you know, as I was going through school, I end up when I, when I was in high school, I had an office assistant job. So this was just like, a little, you know, kind of a, just helping out in an office environment. And really, besides babysitting, and back in the early day, I've always had office jobs. So when I, when I graduated and had my, you know, Business Administration degree, I was like, Okay, well, you know, what do I do now, so I was looking for positions that would match up with, with my degree and what I've learned and in, in college, I, towards my senior year, I also had an internship, so I had a lot of, you know, office work experience, continuously, even on school breaks, just leading up to, you know, now having this degree. And then I was hired my first job, which was hanger orthopaedic group, and it was orthotics and prosthetics company, and I worked directly for one of the financial controllers, it was probably like, the best position that I could get to kind of lead, you know, lead me in my career path, I learned so much in that position, you know, just from being in a professional office environment, I learned about, you know, financial statements, and doing taxes and leases, and just a whole variety of financial you duties that a controller does, and assisting, assisting with all of those tasks on a daily basis. And my after being there for a little while, my controller that I worked directly for, told me, he was leaving the company, which was very sad at the time, because I enjoyed so much working with him and learning from him. And he told me, he was going to accompany and cloud exactly, you stay, which was a corporate housing company, and at the time, and I thought, oh, wow, that, you know, that's a good opportunity for him. And, you know, he had suggested to me that, you know, if he, if it was possible, he would like me to join him. And, you know, this job would have been awesome to get because it was much closer to my house. And, you know, I was just a 20 something, you know, person working downtown, having to pay a lot of, you know, bills at the time and living on my own. So to get a job closer to home and not have to pay for parking every day would it was a great opportunity. And, sure enough, you know, he, he stayed true to his word. And, you know, I, there was open positions at the company, and I was able to apply, and I was able to make the move over to executive j, which was corporate housing, and

Unknown Speaker  17:04  
it was a wonderful, wonderful move for me.

Unknown Speaker  17:09  
So, how did you get from that? And and how did you get into the, the project management arena? How and why did you jump into that?

Unknown Speaker  17:21  
That's a real business.

Unknown Speaker  17:24  
Sure, sure. So, when I moved over to executives day, I was still kind of in the financial administrator role. I was, I was, you know, I went into a company, I was still doing some of the same tasks, I didn't the my previous company, but I had the opportunity to kind of show my skills to the owners of executives day, and I didn't know it at the time, but their company, you know, they had built the company and their comm Their goal was to grow the company and sell it to Marriott, International. And is, and that is what happened, you know, being able to kind of work and go through that acquisition was just incredible. There were more opportunities to grow in my role, and the IT department was looking for a business analyst. And at the time, again, I wasn't, you know, I wasn't quite sure what a business analyst did at the time. But I, you know, when I looked at the job description, I had the skills I had, you know, the degree that they wanted for my, you know, going back to my business administration degree, you know, I had been working in, in the finance group, and what they were really looking for was a for business analyst to join their team, that could help translate requirements, from finance to the IT systems. So with my background, working in that department, and then my education, you know, I just, I applied and it turned out that I was the, I was a good fit. And so from that point on, I kind of joined the IT team, and I learned about what a business analyst does, you know, I did requirements, I did testing, I, I, you know, gathered, did business modelling, I did all of this stuff. But most importantly, I was a business analyst on a project team. And I really, that kind of gave me an entry into the project management world where we did, you know, projects on implementing new system requirements, projects, for finance, a lot of our projects were interfaces for the system. And so, you know, I began working with project managers, and with, through my years at Mariette, you know, my, I continue to grow and my career, so I became, I started off in that business analyst position in it, and then I moved into a systems analyst position. And then from there just, you know, began more involved in projects, and then had the opportunity to start leading my own projects. And, and that's how my entry to the pm world really started.

Unknown Speaker  20:27  
So, so your first, let's go to that first project, then, what was that first project, what you remember about an ad, you remember the fact that you saw the fact that they got handed she was being You are the project manager for this piece of work?

Unknown Speaker  20:42  
Sure. So you know, the one of the first projects I remember being a part of not necessarily leading but being a part of was we were implementing a new property management system, and executive say, and it was called Oscar. And, you know, I was, in that position, I was, the business analyst, I remember I was gathering requirements, I was I was chosen to lead all of user acceptance testing for the application. And I had to plan and, and conduct you at and, you know, learn processes and everything like that. And it was really a great opportunity to be in like the first real project I was involved in. Later on, when I got a chance to, to lead myself. I moved, I moved from executive state to Mariya headquarters, and I became part of a small but new group called enterprise architecture. And I was working with a wonderful mentor and lady who I love dearly, to this day, who really, you know, kind of gave me the position, and we were going to build out the build out this, this new department. And the goal was to develop enterprise processes, for all of for all of it. So a standard way of doing requirements management, a standard way of testing, implementing standard tools and processes. So it was really building it from scratch. And, you know, it was just, it was such a great opportunity, because we worked with consultants to help us do this. We did presentations we did, we built tool kits, we gathered metrics, you know, we really had to kind of like, develop a framework, and then roll it out to all of Marissa It and Prove that work. And just to be a part of that project and succeed, and we had the opportunity to share XS share successes, it was just an awesome experience. And it really allowed me and gave me the confidence to grow in my project management career.

Unknown Speaker  23:22  
Sounds like you had an absolute weight of a time with that one.

Unknown Speaker  23:26  
It was, um, it was very,

Unknown Speaker  23:30  
you know, looking back, I just, you know, I remember all of the work that we that we put into it, and it was just, you know, and I remember people saying to me to that, you know, that we never do it, like they would, you know, like people, people would be kind of against it. And we did. And I think that's when I learned that, you know, not everybody likes a project manager. You know, to your point earlier, not everybody knows what project managers do. And but, you know, the one thing I learned by doing that as well is that, you know, project management is just, it's more than just a project. I mean, that was a big change management effort. And that's one thing I think I've carried with me in my career going forward is that, you know, when you approach a project, I always said that there, you know, I had, I have one job to do, and that's to implement the project. But a lot of times, it's really about it's really a change management effort. And then you implement a new process or project or tool or something like that. But along the way, you really have to get buy in in order to be successful.

Unknown Speaker  24:53  
Yeah, absolutely. There's always going to be people feeling that they're done to, in any project, there'll be some people who it's that whole stakeholder pattern is native so that the people who don't really care about what your projects doing, because to them, they're not seeing any benefit of it, other people who see it as a negative and will fight against you new got all those different types of stakeholders, and you don't? When you look at it, and you go, well, we're doing it for the business that for the organisation is an organisational decision to do it, that not everyone stands behind an organisational decision and supports you today.

Unknown Speaker  25:31  
That's right is true.

Unknown Speaker  25:33  
Yeah. So it's, it's fighting those conflicting

Unknown Speaker  25:37  
priorities for him within organisations. So you, that was your, your, your start with Project Management sounds like, from the way you were doing it, there was it was very much a, a project about projects, about getting those projects in place.

Unknown Speaker  25:54  
It was it was, you know, we, we did, we had to, we just some pilots, you know, we develop these processes at Marriott. And then we did pilots with two different IT groups within the organisation, I remember, one was more marketing focused, and the other was more financial focus. So we could kind of see the differences between between the two areas. We also at the time, rolled out tools to help support a testing and gather requirements. And we use the rational toolset to pilot those. And so it was a constantly working with the project teams that were participating on our pilot and getting metrics and feedback from it, you know, while remembering that these individuals still have their daily jobs. So they were, you know, they were helping us out with their pilot of these pilot projects, and then still doing their day to day work. But, you know, we took all of that, and we had to, you know, try to show adoption of our framework. And once we successfully came up with our requirements management, framework and processes, then we moved on to testing. So we knew, you know, the, the rate of project success and failure depended a lot on requirements. And then after requirements, we, we focused on testing within the SDLC framework, because that was another area where we could definitely use help. So we were kind of tackling each of the different processes. And it was just really, it's, you know, looking back, it's just really exciting that we were able to do all that work, really from from scratch.

Unknown Speaker  28:00  
Excellent. So I'm looking on your LinkedIn profile. And I see that you've been there's a few places you've been since since married? And what maybe it was the merit one, I don't know what what would you say would be the largest piece of or project piece of work that you've done on programme work? And, and when I say largest, whether that would be whatever the metric you use, whether that was financial costs, whether that's number of Mondays, or, or a major business change that you've implemented as pie? And what would you say to you felt like the the biggest piece, the biggest project you've had? And? And, importantly, what did you learn from it? When you were implementing that?

Unknown Speaker  28:45  
Sure. So when I, when I moved to Colorado, I went to work for Western Union in the curtain in their corporate office, and I went to work in, in the PMO, project management organisation in compliance. And one of the, you know, this is, this is really, I think, where a lot of my experience leading from project management into programme management also expanded. So, I worked on a global rollout for to implement data integrity rules for Western Union. And really what that means, and I guess the most simplest terms is that, you know, if if a customer goes to do a transaction for Western Union, there's certain bits of information that that customer has to provide, whether you're sending money or receiving money, and depending on, you know, we want to make sure that the company is capturing accurate information. So we have accurate data in our system. So for example, if your credit card number has to be a storey number of digits, we would validate that if a driver's licence, you know, is a certain number of digits, you know, each field, when you're doing a transaction, we would validate the information that was in there. And so we came up with this project, where we were going to put in data integrity rules, so that the information that we're capturing was accurate, and that, you know, our systems weren't going to get flooded with bad information. And we did this and we did it per country. So you know, I worked, Western Union is a global company. And I worked with countries from, you know, India, to Poland, to Austria to, you know, countries all over the world, and it was a large effort, what we did is we developed a road map of what countries we are going to implement these rules, we would have to work with partners in those countries, you know, to identify, you know, what type of what type of rules needed to be in place, what kind of regulations are in those countries, what we could implement what we couldn't, you know, a name in the US may be very different than a name in Brazil, for example, like capturing that information. So, it was a huge rollout effort, and in terms of just planning in terms of time, in terms of working with all of those global counterparts. And it was a really great experience, you know, from for me personally, as a project manager, I learned so much I'm working on this project, I learned what I needed to do, I learned a lot of times what I needed to learn, or what not to do. Um, and, you know, it's just, it really, you know, to this day, I still have some relationships with some of those people in different countries that I worked with. And a lot of it, you know, I've never met them, you know, you have to kind of build those relationships over the phone or through video chat. And back, you know, back then, we weren't actively using video chat, just conference calls. So, but it really, it really is a project that I'm very proud of.

Unknown Speaker  32:36  

Unknown Speaker  32:38  
So, so let's flip it on the other side.

Unknown Speaker  32:42  
What is the biggest project screw up that you've had them? And what did you learn from it? I always like this question, by the way, I like I'd like to hear,

Unknown Speaker  32:53  
well, square,

Unknown Speaker  32:56  
you know, I let me think about this for a minute. So there's, you know, one thing that I've learned in terms of project screw ups and, and planning and everything is, you know, things don't always go according to plan. So, one thing that I really learned, especially working in a global environment is that, you know, you have to think that when you're planning stuff, a lot of companies have, especially in it, a lot of companies have freeze periods where they don't roll out code into production. So I remember planning entire rollout of planning a project, and then you know, afterwards learning from other it counterparts that, well, we can't roll out anything, you know, in between Christmas and New Year's, because, you know, it's a holiday period, or we can't release anything in here, January, because a lot of our development team is off shore, and it's a holiday in the country. You know, so there's been a lot of like, different things where, you know, you plan out projects for me, and then I learn from a global perspective, there's some major thing happening in that country. I know, for Western Union, in particular Mother's Day, which just passed for us is a huge holiday. And, you know, when you think about the big holidays, you know, as a young project manager, you think about Christmas, or you know, maybe Thanksgiving, but you don't really think about, I didn't really think about Mother's Day has been

Unknown Speaker  34:43  
that hook, I promote to stay such a big one for that. So what what drives that is interest.

Unknown Speaker  34:50  
I think everyone, you know, everyone that uses the services sends money to their moms. All right, you know, a lot of transactions are exchanged during that time, which I didn't think about, you know, but again, there was, you know, Western Union had freeze periods where we did not release code. So, if you had your project, you know, if you had a, if you had a project that needed to be implemented, in order for the Mother's Day holiday, you had to plan to get it into production, with enough time to make sure it was working, you know, prior to May. And that there were no errors. And then as a result, if you had a project that was due to go into production, let's say me first, it was not going to go in because it was too close to that Mother's Day holiday. So that was one that I had to kind of learn what the, you know, what the, what are the significant code releases for a company, or, you know, the environment that you're working in, you know, what impacts you. And, you know, I don't think that's, that's sometimes not necessarily a problem with maybe smaller companies or, but from a global perspective, you know, some of the resources that I used where I'm, um, you know, a world calendar, learning time zones, being considerate of, you know, other employees that you're working with in other countries, I mean, really, simply to even understanding when they take lunch.

Unknown Speaker  36:38  
Because Australia with European get quite big chunks of time where people take long, long lunches, I suppose.

Unknown Speaker  36:44  
Yeah, and it's just different. And, you know, the one thing that, you know, that I learned is, you just, you know, that's why, when you're working with other people, or you're talking with other people in other cultures or other environments, it's best to really take the time as a pm to get to know them, or ask them those questions. That may just seem obvious, but it doesn't and, and, you know, when you're working with them, and, you know, you don't, you don't send them a meeting request, when it's their time to go home, or when they're, you know, usually eating I mean, those are, those are simple things that you learn along the way, but sometimes they're overlooked if you're, if you're not aware of it.

Unknown Speaker  37:29  
Some interesting advice there.

Unknown Speaker  37:32  
So let's go, let's go back to the positive. So away from the the screw up type stuff, what would you send? Maybe you've alluded to it before, what would you say is your proudest project delivery?

Unknown Speaker  37:44  
My proudest project delivery, but say, Well, I, I have you know, I have a lot of them. I mean, some of them I've already mentioned, um, you know, it's funny, like, I love working on the compliance projects that I've talked to, I just, you know, I have this expression, though, that I want to share with you, because I think it's funny, and, but I also think it's true. So I've worked a lot in regulatory environments, even in pretty much in a lot of my, my positions, because they've been financial services industry. And within the financial services industry, there's a lot of regulatory requirements, but I had the same, which I think is a little bit funny, but I always say there's, there's no glory and regulatory. And the reason for that is because, you know, you have to do the project, like these projects aren't the ones that are going to win the awards and, and be customer focus, but they are the ones that you have to do so that you don't get fined by the regulators. So, um, but, you know, that's, that's, that's just always been my scene where I like the regulatory projects, because, you know, you get the resources you need, you have to implement by a certain date. And a lot of times, you have to back into it. But I'm, in one of my, my last positions, a project that I am proud of is that we, I was working in kind of a project manager, product manager role. And we were implementing a new project management tool into our organisation called Maven link. And I remember I was off work one day, and I came back to work just a personal day, I came back to work. And I was, I was asked that, you know, I asked her kind of told that I was going to just implement this tool in our organisation. And that's kind of all i got, like, I was like, here's the tool, this is what we selected. Now, you know, Patty, you're going to implemented in our organisation, and I wasn't involved in the evaluation of the project management tools, but it was now my job to, you know, roll it out. And I'm proud of this, I'm proud that we, we did it. And we, we did implement the tool. And in calluses, it was, you know, it was, it was really kind of given to me to plan. And it allowed me to use all of my skills, everything that I've learned, kind of from being a pm to just how was I going to do it, you know, how was I going to form a work group, kind of put together a timeline, you know, no, work directly with the vendor, work with security work with it work with all the different departments, and then also know that this was going to be a big change management effort. So I had help with different, you know, employees within your organisation, and we, you know, we did it, we put together our training we, we worked with, with everyone, and, you know, we did the rollout, and they're, they're still using it today, everything is going well, you know, I became an administrator for the tool to and, you know, we we, we were able to celebrate our successes to, once we got it implemented, we all went to course field and enjoyed a great baseball game in the summertime. So, yeah, it took us, you know, about about six to nine months to implement, but it was really, I was really proud of it, because it was adopted? Well, it was successful, it was, you know, everybody's continuing to use it. And, you know, it was something that I wasn't given much direction, how to do it, I was able, and I was supported by the leaders in our organisation on, on, on how to, how to roll it out, and how to get everyone to adopt using it.

Unknown Speaker  42:16  
Yeah, I think that's it, when you've got something that's dropped on you, and being able to, and not being part of the solution, the choosing of a can can be a poisoned chalice, it can be seen as coming, and it's

Unknown Speaker  42:28  
been turned around into a positives, really good job there.

Unknown Speaker  42:32  
So looking outside of project delivery.

Unknown Speaker  42:36  
And but related to your project, what would you say? Was your proudest project achievement that say not? Not necessarily the delivery itself? But so anything that stands out?

Unknown Speaker  42:50  

Unknown Speaker  42:53  
from a project achievement, you know, just,

Unknown Speaker  42:59  
I'm either

Unknown Speaker  43:01  
winning answer this question. Question, it's a very good question. And I want to answer it, you know, a couple of different ways, because, obviously, obviously, implementing a project and having it closed out is, you know, is great. But along the way, you know, project achievements, I really, I really feel pride and hat and be having the ability to work with project teams that really don't know me, and have the ability to really gain their trust and to, you know, work together to come to an endpoint and implement the solution. And I, I'm not quite sure how, if I'm saying this, you know, the right way, but I really feel like pride in, you know, being able to lead the teams, but allow each of those individual skills of my project team members to come through, because I think that the you know, as a PM, I've learned that, you know, I all my project team members are more skilled and more knowledgeable than, than me in their areas, and it's not my job to know what they do, it's just my job to lead and get us to the end solution. So I really feel, you know, pride in, that we can work together, or that we can, you know, just come together to resolve solutions and, and move forward. You know, personally from a from a, you know, achievement point of view, I find a lot of my own personal achievement, and seeing like everybody succeed, but then also I, you know, I have pride in the success that I've been able to do in terms of achieving my certifications. And then and now kind of going, and, as you mentioned, I've been involved in mentoring. And so being able to share kind of my skills with others.

Unknown Speaker  45:01  
Yeah, let's kind of just set because I think earlier on when you were talking about the, the Western Union, one where you had your relationships that you built with people around the world, and I'm guessing it kind of lends to this is that being able to, to, because as you say, they are part of your project team matrix, and got their day jobs as well, and being able to get the trust and commitment from people who have other things that are probably just as much noise and priority going in, I can see how that can be how you can make you feel like that.

Unknown Speaker  45:42  
Yes, it's, it's, it's really great. And it's really great, especially when you have the opportunity to meet them, you know, meet them in person. And, you know, a lot of those global leaders would come to Western Union, the corporate office sometimes and travel there, and I'd have a chance to, to, to meet them. There was one time where I had the opportunity to travel to Germany, and I worked a lot with the German team and got to meet people, you know, in person. And if you know, if, if I ever have the opportunity, even now, whether it be mentoring or work or meet people in person, I definitely take that opportunity. Because there's just the you know, it's great to be able to communicate over the phone or video, everything like that. But it's, it's really, it's really important, if you can talk face to face to,

Unknown Speaker  46:37  
it's still the thing that you find it is such a massive difference between any other way of interacting with someone physically being sat there across the desk, or across a cup of coffee chatting. Your relationship building is it's exponential on how much better it can be done. Compared to being on the phone, I always find the same sort of experience when you soon as you meet someone, and you have a chat, and you get to know them. The next the next conversations on the video or on the phone just are so much easier and smoother to deal with, from both sides I find.

Unknown Speaker  47:21  
So the next question I've got

Unknown Speaker  47:27  
relates really to

Unknown Speaker  47:29  
how I first heard of you,

Unknown Speaker  47:33  
which was, it was a LinkedIn post from someone I can't recall who I guess, you know, I can't recall who and I'm going to try and give someone the credit or which had a article that you wrote on a blog called pro project manager calm. And it was about your journey. To the PGMP certification, I find it really, really entertaining read, and hence the reason I reached out to a chat and and also the fact that how, really honest, the the blog was on there and about the journey on there. So did you want to just talk to that? And just tell us the paraphrase that a little bit?

Unknown Speaker  48:18  
Sure, sure. So well, thank you for those kind words. So you know, I, I became a PMP in 2009. And then in 2013, I had a goal, a performance goal, I was working at Western Union, I have performance goal to get a certification. So a lot of my peers, were going to try to achieve the PMP. For me, I already had that one. So I had to do something else. And you know, I had already been working more and managing programmes and thought well, I knew that PMI had started a new certification for programme management. I thought, Oh, well, maybe I can achieve this, you know, maybe I, I could do that. So I researched it and found out that I had enough educational hours and experience that I could be qualified to apply for it. And so I decided to pursue that and select that certification to go for. And so, you know, after going through the PMP, I have never been one, you know, I don't think anybody loves, loves taking tests. But I've never been one to like, like standardised tests, you know, and but I thought, Okay, well, well, you know, it's part of the journey I did the PMP can be that much different. And it really was, you know, the the programme management or PGMP application was definitely more intense. It started out where you do the opposite occasion line. And then you have to kind of write experience summaries or essays of your programme management experience. And with very minimal words, you have to do this, and see if they'll be accepted for you to move on, you know, the, the online application. And so, you know, after those are submitted, your application can be randomly selected for audit, which I was a lucky one, and it was selected for audit. So you know, you wait for you have to submit, basically proof of everything that you've put in your application. And, you know, once you complete that audit, who you are, they tell you if you can move on. And then

Unknown Speaker  50:49  
the form of proof, just sorry to interrupt, yes,

Unknown Speaker  50:52  
no, go ahead with the proof.

Unknown Speaker  50:54  
What did you do? What was the the proof? Was that testimonial from people who have you worked with or worked for Randy's those pieces of work? Or?

Unknown Speaker  51:02  
Yes. So from an education point of view, you know, from my college transcript, basically. And then for the for the summaries that I had to write, I had to select programmes. And you know, right, what I did, how I manage them, how I manage the programmes. And so for those, for those summaries, I had to put down the contact information on my direct manager. And they had to basically verify what I had written to be true, but without my involvement, if that makes sense. So that, you know, they, they basically are mailed a copy of what I've submitted, and then they have to kind of agree and certify that the information is correct.

Unknown Speaker  51:54  
Okay. So sorry. Yeah, it was just a just curiosity there on how they did that.

Unknown Speaker  52:00  
Yeah. And it's, you know, it's, it's, you know, there's really, when you're filling out that application, there should be, there should be nothing you should worry about. It's just the that it kind of delays the whole process. And, you know, you have you have 90 days to submit the documentation. But then with the programme management exam, you know, that the barely, so step one was the application and the summaries step two, was the audit for me, most people are, don't have to go through that, but I did. And then step three was an evaluation panel. So, you know, basically, PMI has a panel of individuals that would read these experience summaries, to determine if you know that what I've what I've submitted is, is valid programme management experience in order to move forward with the certification process. So you know, these are individuals that don't know me, they're just reading what I wrote in 350. Words, and would they would they approve what a panel of my peers, you know, approve me to move on. And, you know, the, they give you tips, you know, when you're applying for the exam, they give you tips on, on how you should write your summaries, meaning that it should be from your point of view, you know, like what I specifically did in managing my programmes, not kind of what my projects teams did, but really my own true experience. And so, luckily, those were approved. And then I was ready to take, you know, I was qualified and ready to schedule a time for the exam. So, I studied and studied and, you know, I had the book, I had multiple books, I had the exam test questions, um, I felt ready to take the exam. And I, I, and I failed. And I was devastated. I was just, I couldn't believe I failed, honestly, you know, I passed up the PMP. on the first try. I wasn't really, I don't know, to be honest, I just wasn't used to failing. You know, I did well in school. And I just, I really don't even know what what went wrong. And I was devastated. Because here I was, I had, you know, this work performance goal. Everybody at work, knew I was taking the exam, I had to go back to work, I had to, you know, I had to tell my director who, originally, you know, when I, when I was taking this exam, originally, this is the man who hired me into Western Union. So I was just, like, terrified and upset, and just so scared to even go into work. You know, it was just, it was just horrible. Like, I, I couldn't believe this happened to me.

Unknown Speaker  55:07  
And then I'm sure you beat yourself up

Unknown Speaker  55:10  
quite a lot there.

Unknown Speaker  55:10  
Yeah, I just, I mean, looking back, like, it's just, you know, it, it was, it was just hard. And then I'll, you know, I will never forget what what he said to me, like, I went, it was in his office. And, you know, here is, you know, my director with, you know, more older than me more work experience than me, someone I truly respect. And, you know, he said to me, he's like, Patty, you tried, he's like, that's more than what I did, you know, he's like, you tried, you can do it again, you know, you can try again. Um, and, and, you know, it's just, I don't know, it just really bothered me for a while, like, I just kind of had to, like, walk away from it, and just, you know, kind of get over people asking me about it. And just, I don't know, move on. But I really wasn't, you know, I gave myself a little bit of time. And then I decided I was going to try again. But I knew that if I had to, I knew that if I was going to take it again, I needed a better way, I needed to figure out something, you know, I just, I don't know, I just needed to figure out something else. So I did some research with some people that had passed the exam. And, you know, this was a, I was very new and take, like, the certification was new. And I was really new in the process of taking it and, and so I did some reading, you know, got some tips from people that had passed, and one of the one person or several people had actually suggested reading the standards book six times. And it is, um, I was like, how can I read this six times today? I think for the first time, I actually read the book about two times. And I was like, how can I read this book six times? How am I going to do this like, but I knew I had to do something different. I had to, you know, I really had to do something different. So I set out to read that book six times. And I put that book on the treadmill. And I, I didn't put this in my article, but I honestly think I lost like 510 pounds on the treadmill.

Unknown Speaker  57:30  
That's unusual, isn't it losing, losing the weight,

Unknown Speaker  57:34  
you know, it's Win Win, because I ended up taking the test again, and I this time I passed and you know, I'd lost way. It was just, you know, it's funny, though, after reading that book, multiple, multiple, you know, multiple times, the information kind of it's, it's stuck a different way. And I really, it's hard to put it in words, but it just like, it's like I knew it, I knew it backwards and forwards. I knew what the standards were. And I was so much more confident taking the exam, again, and I ended up, you know, I ended up passing and getting my certification. And it was a great feeling. I remember being so nervous to go in there and take it again. But um, you know, I passed the exam. And then, but I still wasn't done like this is this is the thing. Now this is a part where no longer PMI is taken the the last step that I had to go through out of the exam process now, but there was, when I took it, there was a step called the multi Raider assessment. And I

Unknown Speaker  58:41  
had to put down

Unknown Speaker  58:45  
my peers and

Unknown Speaker  58:46  
managers and directors, I had to give them a list of references, that could really do kind of like a 360 review of my progress. And at the time, all of those individuals had to respond. So they would get an email and have to complete a survey for me. And if one of them didn't respond, then my certification could have been in jeopardy.

Unknown Speaker  59:13  
Should it's

Unknown Speaker  59:15  
a number that you had to nominate. Remember, I general,

Unknown Speaker  59:21  
I think it was almost, you know, I don't exactly remember how many people it was, but it was close, I want to say it was somewhere between like five and 10 people,

Unknown Speaker  59:32  
a lot of people to corral isn't it?

Unknown Speaker  59:33  
It was and you know, one thing with you know, one thing that I put in my my article was that it's, you know,

Unknown Speaker  59:44  
you work with people and you

Unknown Speaker  59:48  
You know, sometimes you don't talk to them for a while or you leave a company and you don't stay in touch with people. And when you're applying for certifications down the road, it's really important that you keep in touch and hobbies references.

Unknown Speaker  1:00:01  
Love LinkedIn.

Unknown Speaker  1:00:04  
Yes, and, you know, I remember Actually, I had one of my managers, he was out of the country and, you know, vacation with his family. And when I finally got in touch with him, he's like, I just got back, I'll do it, you know, but I mean, it was you've, you know, I've, you've gone through all of I've gone through all of this, and I really didn't want you know, the lack of response by someone who didn't see an email or, you know, to jeopardise the whole process. And so,

Unknown Speaker  1:00:36  
it's funny, because you would have thought with that sort of thing, maybe its timing, and with that sort of thing, you could kick it off at the beginning of the process, couldn't you really you could have, you know, mean, you could have had that, that if they said, right, those that alongside everything else. It's a, it's a, there was named, survey, monkey things. net, and just have one of those set on the side as people go through, and you chase them through the process. And then if you don't get to the end, Well, some people have done some stuff for you. But if you do want to save some time, and

Unknown Speaker  1:01:09  
yeah, I know I you know, and I'm, I'm not certain as to why PMI no longer requires the this evaluation at the end. But I certainly support them. Removing

Unknown Speaker  1:01:23  
anything I can think of is with that as you think about it, you think, well, you're not you're never going to choose people who aren't going to support you. It's like references, isn't it? See, if you choose people who you know, and trust and you know, have a good opinion of you. And you've you would have spoken to them and said, I'm doing this please can you help me? So what what what is going to happen other than tripping up a few people who are probably got the experience and felt the validity of having it just because someone, as you say, has Mrs. An email or is off on holiday in the timescale? So probably it probably just stopped people getting it wrong, making sure that people get and it was a valid evaluation ready? Probably doing the opposite.

Unknown Speaker  1:02:06  

Unknown Speaker  1:02:07  
yeah. So, you know, I'm not sure, but luckily, all of my references supported me, and, you know, then you get notification where my certification was granted. So, you know, in my article, I wrote that, you know, the first time that I failed, I mean, those that those results, you know, those test results are, are on your PMI profile. So, you know, if I log in to my profile after our call, you know, I see the date that I failed. And I also see the date that I pass that exam, everything's permanently saved there. So that was, you know, that was nice to see that, that that pass, you know, passing the exam. And then, you know, unfortunately, I was asked,

Unknown Speaker  1:02:53  
after I passed

Unknown Speaker  1:02:54  
and got my certification, I was asked by PMI to attend, and again, damn workshop, and it ended up being in Las Vegas, which was super fun. And I got to go and help review and write future exam test questions. So that was pretty cool. Because, you know, I felt like I was just, I felt so great that I had passed the exam, and then to be able to give back to my, you know, give back and help support others who are taking the exam. It would be you know, it's just an awesome opportunity. And, you know, I, with, with all that I went through to get this particular certification. You know, I was, I'm proud of it. I was, it was a hard road to get there. You know, if the late You know, I, I started mentoring for PMI recently, and I met the lady who asked me to write this article, this

Unknown Speaker  1:03:56  
an article for her blog,

Unknown Speaker  1:03:59  
at my mentoring event, because she had never really met another PGMPM person. You know, it's, it's something that I don't,

Unknown Speaker  1:04:07  
there's no rain, does it?

Unknown Speaker  1:04:09  
No, there isn't. I mean, I, I personally don't have not met another person, even in my town, who has certification. Um, you know, there's people all over the world, that habit, but I mean, that's a small number of us. So she had really, you know, she said that it was not something that she could ever write about. And she asked me to share my storey and I, you know, I never really, I would never have been in the right mindset to do it, you know, especially when I was taking the exam or felt or failed the exam. But you know, I thought maybe it would be a good storeys to share, because a lot of and some of the comments that I've received, after writing that article is that, you know, a lot of people share successes. And that's awesome to do. But a lot of people don't share, you know, their failures, and then keep trying, and then share their successes. So when I had the opportunity to do so I thought, why not, maybe it'll help somebody else to not give up and really achieve what they want to achieve.

Unknown Speaker  1:05:21  
That's, and yeah, and I kind of got that when I read it. It was, as you say, an unusual. And, as I said, an honest view of how you felt there, it's not often that people will admit to being as upset about something like this. And I know it's all to do with how much effort you put in and things like that. And question I kind of asked you, when you had that thing I know it's like the PMP is nuts that you have a with your finger over the mouse button over the complete button. And yeah, yeah, your heart is in in your life, isn't it? Each time because you you, regardless of how you feel you're never sure on these things. And so you clicked it that first time and

Unknown Speaker  1:06:13  

Unknown Speaker  1:06:15  
the way you felt you were crying and you were terrified of going into work? What can you remember that it was obviously positive? When you click that button, then it came up pass it What was that feeling? Like?

Unknown Speaker  1:06:31  
Oh my god, it was awesome. Like, I just I remember, like, you're in a testing centre. Okay, so like, literally, that day, I'm driving to the testing centre, I'm going in the same testing centre, you know, that I that I failed

Unknown Speaker  1:06:44  
the first time right? Music playing in the background.

Unknown Speaker  1:06:49  
So happens

Unknown Speaker  1:06:50  
is like you take I mean, you take all the exam questions, right. And then the computer like you're sitting in front of this computer, and literally,

Unknown Speaker  1:06:58  
like I it's a almost

Unknown Speaker  1:07:00  
like the computer is thinking, because it's like, the screen turns blue.

Unknown Speaker  1:07:03  
And it's almost like you can hear it like

Unknown Speaker  1:07:08  
I don't know, it's like, it's like it turned blue.

Unknown Speaker  1:07:11  
It was completely, like, almost blue screen of whatever. And then all of a sudden, it came up pass. And I was like, Oh my god, like, thank goodness, it was just honestly, I think it was such a sense of relief. And I was just like, I just couldn't even I was just so thankful that I that this time I passed. And you know, you you kind of you, you can leave the testing centre, because it's all secure. So you like you can get up from the computer, and you walk out and they give you a piece of paper? Because I think the challenging thing with the PMI tests are they never, you know, you never, you never walk out of there knowing how many questions you got, right? And how many questions you got wrong. It's there's certain domains like areas of focus. And so you're either proficient, you're moderately proficient, or you're low proficiency. So you know, I don't know, if I failed the first test, because of one question, or 20. You know, I just, you just don't know. And so, you know, kind of like, what areas you did better on but not and it you know, it evens out to determine whether or not you pass or fail. But I just remember like, you know, getting that print out a piece of paper, and then you have to lock everything up. So you you know, you gather your things, and then you get in the car and you you know, this time calling my family and saying I passed Oh my god, you know, just a completely different experience.

Unknown Speaker  1:08:54  
That's a fantastic storey, fantastic storey.

Unknown Speaker  1:08:58  
So, we've been talking about for well over an hour, and really appreciate you giving me so much time. It's fantastic. And I'm listening so much time as well. There's a few quick questions, I want to just wrap up. So what was the last project related podcast you listen to?

Unknown Speaker  1:09:21  
If you listen to podcasts,

Unknown Speaker  1:09:23  
um, I do listen to some podcasts of you know, sometimes it's hard with my little one running around the house all the time. But the last project podcast that I listened to was actually yours.

Unknown Speaker  1:09:41  
I'll send the $5 in the post.

Unknown Speaker  1:09:45  
Brilliant, that was the last project blogs that you read.

Unknown Speaker  1:09:50  
The last project blog

Unknown Speaker  1:09:52  
that I read was a you know, I do a lot of reading on LinkedIn and the PMI sites,

Unknown Speaker  1:09:59  
I don't, you know, I just kind of like,

Unknown Speaker  1:10:02  
get the daily updates. And I'm reading about changes to upcoming certification, the I try to stay on top of certifications and like what's changing in the PMI world. I know PMI is going through an effort now to do testing of different certifications using a new testing centre, and maybe allowing individuals to do some of the testing from home, which I thought was interesting. So those are some of the areas I've read lately.

Unknown Speaker  1:10:37  
And last few questions, then.

Unknown Speaker  1:10:40  
What would be your top tip for a season 2pm that's out there someone pretty experienced something that we you may have gone through and thought, uh, yeah, that's something I've forgotten.

Unknown Speaker  1:10:54  
Sure. So I think

Unknown Speaker  1:10:58  
my mic top tip to a seasoned pm is really that you're never too busy to keep learning, even if it's in a different way, when life changes. So personally, my PM career changed when I had my son, you know, he's almost two and a half. And I went from working as a full time. pm programme manager to, to right now I'm home with him full time. But I've continued to use my pm skills through volunteering through mentoring. I, you know, I'm giving back to my profession just in a different way, right now. And I have my skills available one day when I do if I decide, you know, to go back and, and be able to work in a full time capacity. But I really think it's important to keep learning and also keep your certifications active because you work too hard. You know, when you achieve them. You don't want to give that up.

Unknown Speaker  1:12:01  
Yeah, absolutely. And the final question.

Unknown Speaker  1:12:08  

Unknown Speaker  1:12:10  
you were going to tell your younger self something on that first day, on that first project that you realised you with Project Manager, what what single nugget of advice would you give yourself?

Unknown Speaker  1:12:26  
So I touched on this earlier, but it's still something that I believe in every day is that building relationships is so important in project management. Don't be afraid to walk and talk with like all levels of management. You know, one thing I always tell younger pm is ask people what their preferred communication style is, do you you know? Do you want me to stop by my office? Do you want to text me? Do you want to email me phone, you know, just really get to know people trust and trust you know your project team members, because they know they know their roles and what they do better than you do. So you really just need to you know, trust your team, get to know them, learn from them. And then lastly, make sure that you celebrate with

Unknown Speaker  1:13:21  

Unknown Speaker  1:13:23  

Unknown Speaker  1:13:25  
Well, that wraps up the interview. If people wanted to get in touch with you, what's the best way to get in touch with you? Or maybe on your mentoring or, or just to find out more about what you went through on the PGMP

Unknown Speaker  1:13:40  
my information is available on LinkedIn and I'm happy to connect with anyone who reaches out to me please do I love talking with people and getting to know people and you know if I can if I can help others. I certainly will.

Unknown Speaker  1:14:00  
Brilliant. Brilliant. Well it say is thank you very much again for giving me so much time. It's been a really entertaining interview. And I'll let you get back to the rest of your day.

Unknown Speaker  1:14:13  
Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

Transcribed by

Popular posts from this blog

meets Elizabeth Harrin, FAPM, The Rebellious Project Manager

Under Promise and Over Deliver vs Over Promise and Under Deliver