New Year – New You! There is more to professional success than mastering technologies and management techniques. PMINJ wants to know about what keeps you on your toes – do you do yoga, practice mindfulness, hit the gym? Please send any tips you have for maintaining mental and physical wellness to and look for them in the January newsletter.
This year the annual Global Congress and PMI Leadership Institute Meeting (LIM) was held in Orlando, Florida at the Coronado Springs Convention Center and Resort in Disney World. John Bufe, Mark Barash, Lisa Blake, and I represented the New Jersey Chapter at the North American LIM from October 7-10. The overall LIM experience is educational and rewarding, but this year it was a very exciting event for our chapter because we were the recipients of two PMI Excellence Awards!
Our Chapter received a PMI Excellence
Award in Category IV for Volunteer Programs and Leader of
the Year. Our very own past President, John Bufe,
was named Leader of the Year in Category IV.
Chapters are broken down into categories by size. New Jersey may be a small state, but we are the second largest chapter in the world with over 4700 members. This awards ceremony is a significant event with the Board of Directors and CEO, Mark Langley, presenting the awards. Mark Langley and Board Member Steve DelGrosso presented John Bufe his award, as well as presenting the Volunteer Programs Excellence Award to me. The ceremony is an acknowledgement of excellence within the PMI community and a celebration of its winners. An achievement we are quite proud of!
Throughout the convention center, fellow leaders were reconnecting, as well as new connections being made. As mentioned in the LIM opening remarks, it is similar to a homecoming, when friends join together to share common and unique chapter experiences and new professional relationships are forged all focusing upon chapter growth and member service. Even though it is called the North American LIM, leaders attend from all over the globe. There were PMI leaders from India, China, Central America, South America and European countries. Attendees came from far and wide to network, share and learn together.
Over four days we attended three keynote sessions and multiple track sessions. This year we also attended a full day Region 4 meeting on October 7 prior to the official kick off of the LIM. Region 4 is composed of all chapters within the states of New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Michigan and New Jersey. Still maintaining its title, New Jersey is the largest chapter in Region 4.
The LIM conference began on Thursday, October 8. Thursday’s Opening Keynote was Captain Chesley B. (Sully) Sullenberger. We listened with rapt attention as he described his experience in landing a Boeing Jet in the Hudson River on a frigid January morning in 2009; also known as the “Miracle on the Hudson.” He spoke of leadership and trusting your team to deliver the best results. He tied his experiences back to planning and being prepared; those things project managers and those in the profession perform best. At the end of his presentation, he received a standing ovation.
Friday morning’s Keynote was by Jeff Tobe, author of the book “Coloring Outside the Line.” He stressed the value of challenging the status quo and not doing things as they had been done before just because that’s how things have always been done. He also stressed the need for each of us to creatively manage the change that is inevitable with innovation when we color outside the lines. Each member of the audience received a copy of his book. Jeff had a book signing in the afternoon and the line snaked around the room just like a line for a Disney World ride! It should be mentioned that one of our Region 4 members, Ted Kallman, President Elect of the Western Michigan Chapter is a co-author with Jeff Tobe on the book “Coloring Outside the Line.”
The Saturday morning Keynote was Jason
Young, former executive at Southwest Airlines. He
did an excellent job of holding the attention of an
audience that had been attending meetings for more than
two days. He conveyed the message of customer
service, which translates to PMI chapters as member
service. Jason is a former customer service
executive from Southwest Airlines. Be unique and use
a little humor were his key points. He talked of the
successes with Southwest Airlines in using those points,
always respective of the customer, but unique and
fun. Like Southwest Airlines, PMI colleagues
globally bond because our goal is to serve and satisfy our
members. We are united by loyalty to each other and
our chapters, as well as our profession.
Congratulations PMINJ! Keep up the good work!
This year’s IPM Day celebration was held at the Palace at
Somerset Park in Somerset, NJ. The 10th annual IPM Day
Seminar kicked off with Deven Trivedi, VP Symposium,
greeting attendees and explaining the reasons for the IPM
Day celebration. Judy Balaban, President of PMINJ, announced
that the chapter is the recipient of the 2015 PMI Excellence
Awards in Category IV for Volunteer Programs and our
chapter’s past president, John Bufe, was the recipient of
the 2015 Chapter Leadership Award.
Dave Sherman, a professional speaker, trainer and best-selling author delivered an engaging and very useful presentation “Embracing the Art of the Schmooze.” Dave pointed out that in order to fully attain the goals of the PMI Mission Statement, PMs have to schmooze. Defining “schmooze” as developing relationships to create a network of reliable business acquaintances, Dave synthesized the How in seven words, with the first two, Likability and Commonality, at the foundation of Schmooze, including practicing your S.H.E.: Smile, Handshake and Eye Contact. Moving from there to the icebreaker, Dave said when asked what you do, focus on the specific aspects of your profession that might be beneficial to the other person in your reply. Using the remaining four most important words: “Who Do You Know” allows us to reach our goals through only three people!
After a 30 minute networking break, Amit Panchal, an Enterprise Technologist at Microsoft with expertise in Competitive Strategy, discussed “Successful Global Project Rollouts and Pitfalls to Avoid.” Amit highlighted lessons learned from his career in the US Navy as a systems engineer on a vertical replenishment project and a Microsoft project to build a testing environment for McGraw Hill. These examples attested to the complexity of getting projects done in a matrix environment and the realization of risk management through alternatives assessment.
Shobhna Raghupathy, MS, PMP Global Strategy and Project Portfolio Management consultant presented “Team Dynamics & Global Leadership in the New Millennium.” Shobhna started her presentation reminding attendees of PMI’s four values of code of ethics: Honesty, Fairness, Responsibility, Respect and that Leadership is “not a title, it’s a responsibility.“ She highlighted the challenges of leading collaboration in multicultural and multigenerational environments by looking at the events and attitudes that shape the Baby boomers, the Generation Xers and the Millennials in the workforce. Shobhna cited several leadership theories such as Karen Sobel Lojeski’s three core competencies for leading today’s virtual workforce - creating context, cultivating community, and co-activating new leaders. She stressed that PMs need to be cognizant of using different leadership styles with varying degrees of generational team members as well as virtual team members.
After the lunch break, Abby Kohut, a Human Resources professional, discussed “Networking for Project Managers – Building Magical Relationships and Exposing the Hidden Job Market.” Abby provided valuable tips to explain what you do so people will remember, the importance of being specific when someone from your network asks for help and how to turn your networking magic into long-term relationships. Always be humble and helpful to your network as you never know where the next career opportunity will come from. Solving problems that companies did not know they have and hobnobbing including volunteering with the C-suite at associations, and paid seminars / events (such as PMINJ Symposium events) were among the strategies offered to realize career advancement and enrichment.
In the second half of the afternoon, Vitaliy Fursov, PMP a professional public speaker, concluded the day by providing insight into various group dynamic techniques and demonstrated how the project manager can utilize these techniques to win for their project teams in an entertaining but educational workshop, ”Why We Win, When We Win, What We Win.” One of the highlights of Vitaliy’s presentation was the practical application of the famous Prisoners’ Dilemma to the team setting. The Prisoners' Dilemma provides a framework for understanding the role of self-interest versus collaboration. The speaker emphasized the value of collaboration in order to win, utilizing a card game for all the attendees.
Jerry Flach, PMP, Director Symposium, closed the IPM Day event by thanking all the speakers for their contribution, attendees, volunteers and facility staff to make this event a great success.
As a very important note about this year’s IPM Day, the food drive collected ten bags of food and $395 in monetary donations. This bounty was split between the following two food pantries – The Crisis Room at the Aldersgate United Methodist Church in East Brunswick and the food pantry at the Roman Catholic Church of the Little Flower in Berkley Heights.
All of the IPM speakers’ presentation materials and additional photos can be accessed on the PMINJ website.
The annual Merck Project Manager Day was held this year on September 16, and PMINJ was again presented with the opportunity to be a part of this great event. A key theme of this year’s PM Day was the “Three E’s – Entrepreneurship and Executional Excellence.” Merck CIO, Clark Golestani, delivered the keynote elaborating on this theme and the critical role that project management plays in delivering on this strategic focus.
The morning sessions closed with a panel discussion that covered key project management topics, including stakeholder consensus, adapting to change, and operating in a global team. The panel included representatives from Microsoft, Cognizant, and HCL. PMINJ was represented in this panel by Mike Sarachman.
Throughout the day, corporate outreach team members
Dennis McCarthy, Robert Gruber, Nitin Khanna and Deven
Trivedi staffed the PMINJ information table, sharing
information about upcoming PMP certification classes,
International Project Management Day and monthly
programs. The team identified a number of potential new
PMI and NJ Chapter members and helped Merck staff
understand the value that chapter membership provides.
PMINJ volunteer, Aaron Corona, collected Food Drive
contributions throughout the event.
The afternoon was divided into three breakout session tracks:
These informative breakouts covered very relevant topics, including agile techniques and the impact of new IT tools on the role of project management.
The PMINJ corporate outreach team would like to thank
Tina Gertsch, Lee Foon Nuen, Ashley Louis, and the rest
of the Merck team for arranging a great event, and for
giving PMINJ an opportunity to actively participate.
On October 17, on an almost winter-like fall morning, five PMINJ Chapter volunteers joined the Paterson Habitat for Humanity group to help build a house. The team was ready and willing to work. Since Paterson Habitat was waiting for permits from the city for new projects, the PMINJ team assisted with some less than glamorous, but still important work of finishing up an existing home, which meant moving supplies out of that structure, assisting with landscaping activities and swinging a broom instead of a hammer.
The PMINJ team took a mid-morning break to join Paterson Habitat, neighbors, and friends for a well-timed Fall House Dedication ceremony. Attendees had the opportunity to see firsthand the joy on the faces of a hard-working family as they realized this affordable, beautifully designed, new energy-efficient home was theirs.
Paterson Habitat, the Passaic County affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, is celebrating its 30th year of building homes and neighborhoods in Paterson, NJ. It has served over 350 families and hosted over 25,000 volunteers in that time including the PMINJ project management team.
Needless to say, the PMINJ team did a thorough job
and even treated the Paterson Habitat team to some
pizza and swag! The PMINJ Outreach Team will be
working with Paterson Habitat to plan additional
volunteer events for spring 2016. More
information on events and other volunteer
opportunities are available on the chapter website
(www.pminj.org). For more information about
Paterson Habitat visit their website.
As our mission states, the New Jersey Chapter
is devoted to Building professionalism and
excellence in Project Managers.
A key tenet of our chapter is the generous
spirit of volunteerism, and supporting that is
the creation of the Project Managers in
Transition - or PMIT team. In short, we
are run by the talented support of many
The objective in establishing this PMIT team is to identify an active, available volunteer base of chapter members who are either unemployed or underemployed and are willing to serve in various capacities for special projects identified by the Board of Directors.
Opportunities are varied and can run the gamut from academic or community outreach efforts to being a guest speaker at a special event, such as an afternoon ‘Lunch and Learn,’ to mentoring local high school or college students. In all cases, the PMI volunteer relationship management system (VRMS) will be the primary tool used to post and manage responses.
Why create such a pool of available volunteers? The purpose is twofold. The first reason is having a list of eligible and capable volunteers speeds up the volunteer placement process for our busy Program Directors.
Secondly, where VRMS is a limited tool focused on the basic communication of available opportunities, the PMIT team or volunteer pool will allow the chapter to take on more work while helping members stay fresh, learn new skills, earn PDUs, as well as share their wealth of incredible expertise.
Within this PMIT activity or program and throughout the year, we are able to track project completions, time to complete, and PDUs earned: things again which VRMS lacks. We’d like to bring this program along to a future state where individuals can receive recognition as well for their efforts.
Any available PMIT opportunities will be posted on the PMINJ website where the process includes accessing VRMS. As of this writing, the following opportunity is available:
Your support and active participation keeps the
chapter live and growing. If you would like more
information about the PMIT group, please contact
Mary Beth Kuderna at
Although there are various types
of groups in existence which support and
promote the Agile methodology, even among the
most senior members of such groups, there is
much disagreement of the “right” details to
follow. It is often a matter of opinion
or preference which drives the thinking behind
the arguments you can read in the Agile
Opinions posts. This month we’ll explore
the #NoEstimates trend.
First of all, let’s identify this as a Twitter hashtag that promotes the concept that “time estimates are not necessarily always required” to manage a project. #NoEstimates has a lot of very smart Agilists talking. In fact, there is a 2013 article on the CIO Magazine website which delves into greater detail on how this approach can work.
It is that qualifying term
“always” that allowed me to get past my own
initial bias against this concept.
Why? Simply because those of us who have
been in the business of Project Management for
a long time know two things:
There is an important third concept to #NoEstimates which is a fundamentally Agile rationale: estimates have overhead.
If you have a mature Agile team producing and delivering value in regular, short-interval time segments then a valid question arises: why should team members (who, at least from an Agile perspective, should always contribute to such analysis) take additional time to scope out and produce “guesstimates”? On top of that, working staff also often have to spend even more time overhead justifying that guesstimate. Wouldn’t that time be better used by creating value rather than trying to guesstimate it?
Is The Concept Of #NoEstimates Something You Can Actually Use?
If you are in a large non-high-tech company with thousands of employees, I certainly wouldn’t advise you to start emailing memos with the #NoEstimates hashtag prominently featured. In fact, if you are strictly in the business of waterfall-based or Stage-gate project management, I wouldn’t advise jumping right into trying to justify not estimating your projects.
Then there are those projects and programs where deadlines are simply required because of legal, regulatory or financial commitments. In such cases the work involved in time-related estimates is now in guesstimating the resources necessary to achieve those deadlines for the mandated scope. Risk management and careful monitoring becomes an absolute necessity for such efforts.
Who can use #NoEstimates? Agile teams in the Software Development arena where the variability of estimates (as compared to “actuals”) is far greater than in many other areas of Project Management time estimation. The teams adopting this approach not only have to be using Agile frameworks, they also need to be (a) good at doing so; (b) good at doing the actual work they are using Agile frameworks to manage; and finally, and (c) truly recognized by management and their customers as being “good at Agile and their work.”
Just like with any other process change, starting small may be the best approach. Consider measuring the baseline output of a standalone team before implementing this change and comparing the output after the change. You just might find that this model works for your business.
Are there Agile topics that you’d like to see addressed in future newsletters? Contact the PMINJ Newsletter editor ( ) with suggestions.