Welcome, Patrick Hendrickson!

Posted in Human Resources on March 27, 2015
Patrick Hendrickson

Patrick Hendrickson

Patrick Hendrickson joins M Powered Strategies after several years of working for elected officials and political campaigns throughout the country. Most recently, he lived in the Bering Straits and Northwest Arctic region of Alaska and led voter registration and voter turnout programs with an emphasis on engaging Alaska Natives.

Previously, Patrick interned in The White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and assisted in facilitating relationships with governors and state legislators. Patrick has a B.A. in political science from Indiana University and an M.A. in international law and the settlement of disputes from the United Nations mandated Graduate School of Peace and Conflict Studies in Costa Rica.

Patrick is originally from Michigan and enjoys playing ice hockey and shuffleboard.

Agile, Naturally by Cliff Katz, PACE Cohort 7

Podcast Blog“Agile is what you do when your back is up against the wall, naturally.”
–Jim York, FoxHedge Ltd.

As Jim York of FoxHedge Ltd. and Elizabeth McQueen at US Customs and Border Protections explain, agile is a commitment that forces owners and teams to be more transparent. Short processes allow for immediate feedback and correction. Scrums don’t have much space for hiding: everything a team member does or doesn’t do can be quickly seen by all within a short span of time. Therefore transparency is not just logical from a spending perspective (federal projects are funded with taxpayer dollars), but is paramount because the process is expedited and checked on regularly. Agile also forces managers to be more engaged and accountable due to its unique characteristics (more on that from MPS President Kendall Lott’s podcast on the effectiveness of the agile software development approach). York and McQueen speak of agile consulting from a project management perspective, but I think they’re onto something from, well, a human perspective.

Project management can be enhanced by a number of frameworks and behavioral science tests that serve as a playbook for navigating complex human relationships and facilitating high quality work. If managers and consultants faithfully execute these theories and models, the odds are fair that a project will be successful, or at least that its teams will cohesively work together. However, from past experience and my time at MPS, I’ve learned that even the best frameworks aren’t perfect – there’s no substitute for smart people who are willing and able to understand and execute a complex PWS to make a project successful.

Consulting, as every new hire quickly learns, is neither as simple nor as glossy as a google image search of the term makes the profession appear. In real life project management, the puzzles are numerous and complex, and they constantly change. Merely keeping up can be a full time job by itself.

Despite my anxiety about bucking well-established theories of project management and human behavior, I enjoy agile consulting’s challenges and dynamics. Agile organized into a series of three week ‘sprints’ in which small teams from a number of groups come together (in daily meetings known as ‘scrums’) and tackle a set list of tasks. Daily scrum work consists of various meetings where project and technical management gauge progress on individual and team tasks. Agile’s dynamic nature allows continuous rebalancing of tasks and immediate resolutions of roadblocks. At a sprint’s conclusion, teams demonstrate the products of the list’s tasks for the client to provide feedback. Project teams will repeat this cycle for the project’s duration.

MPS’ ethos centers partly on enabling our partners to do their very best work with as little disruption as possible. At MPS, I succeed with my partners, not in spite of them. The agile technique of actually doing the work together and bonding throughout the fast-paced sprints makes me feel a little more human in a profession full of frameworks and online meetings. Much like an athlete in a relay, nobody on a project is ever alone in the work he or she is assigned; however, the immediate availability of resources only increases the pressure to perform. Though I haven’t physically met any of my project’s partners outside of my MPS teammates, I don’t want to be the person who lets down my team. Hopefully I’m agile enough to deliver.

MPS Announces Another Project Management Professional on Staff

Janet Boutilier

Janet Boutilier

Congratulations are in order for Janet Boutilier, M Powered Strategies (MPS) Associate Consultant, who recently completed her Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. Janet’s experience in project management ranges from planning large-scale professional conferences to consulting on federal IT projects. Studying for the exam gave her the foundational framework she needed to align her experiential knowledge with common project management methodologies. Janet is particularly interested in Agile and Scrum, and is enthusiastic about keeping up with the latest developments and best practices in the field.

Janet has been a member of the PMI Washington, DC Chapter for several years. Before coming to M Powered Strategies she worked as Chapter staff, helping the board achieve its strategic goals. Through her work with the Chapter, she met many inspirational leaders who helped her realize her passion for project management.

Janet is excited to contribute her project management expertise to the MPS team.

PREP News: March 2015

Posted in PACE Program / PREP / PREP Newsletter Archive on March 10, 2015

As we say goodbye to the last of our cold and snowy days (hopefully!), we look forward to the many changes that spring will bring. Here at MPS we’ve seen an eventful February with the start of a new PACE Cohort and the welcoming of two new PREP Oversight Group members.

In This Issue: PACE Cohort 7 Begins, PACE Social, New PREP Oversight Group Members

The Networking Dance by Cliff Katz, PACE Cohort 7

Podcast BlogSophisticated jazz music hums through the elegant space filled with overdressed and ambitious professionals. You see someone you’d like to approach but you don’t know when the conversation you’re waiting on will finally end, or if it ever will. Nervously, you make eye contact with your target—you’re determined and will do anything to ensure that the next conversation is yours. Finally, with laser-focus, you seize your opportunity the second it appears.

You’ve been in this terrifying situation before: a networking event. To avoid dejectedly walking away with a generic email address and the memory of a wasted conversation, you can alter your strategy to ensure things turn out differently.

Firstly, your goal is to receive a card, not a job offer. An initial project pitch shouldn’t include every deliverable of a major project, so why should your personal pitch be any different?  Your goal is to put your name on your target’s radar and to receive a card or some sort of tangible, personal, information. If you get this small and easy step right, you can prove your capability in a more private setting later; in a packed room a manager will talk to dozens of people and he or she likely won’t remember the specifics you mentioned. Keep the pitch short and memorable. Mention your strongest capacities and then start asking questions.

Secondly, listen. Your potential contact has the answers to every question you might have. Asking a few questions and listening to those answers will give you the information you need to frame yourself to fit their needs. You wouldn’t blindly propose a project to a client, so why would you do the same with yourself?

Thirdly, be human. Do you have shared interests? Did you both attend the same university, or play the same sport? Reach into that personal connection and, again, let the other person talk. Business is personal, and these small hooks can make your brand more memorable.  You’ll show that when a project or task isn’t going 100% as planned, there’ll be chemistry with the people you’ll work with.

Lastly, let the conversation end naturally, and then move on before you talk your way out of a lead. You have more people to meet with and your contact has more potential candidates to speak with. If you’re awarded a card, follow-up immediately that night with a few anecdotes recalling the conversation you had earlier that day.

The sight of a personal reply from your desired contact in your inbox will be worth getting jazzed about. Now it’s time to deliver. For more on networking and project management, listen to our podcast, here.

Welcome, Ashley Rezai!

Posted in Human Resources / PACE Program on March 05, 2015
Ashley Rezai

Ashley Rezai

Ashley Rezai joins the PACE Program at M Powered Strategies after having received her B.A. in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University. Through her studies, she acquired communication strategies for resolving interpersonal conflicts and increasing organizational collaboration. Professionally, she worked as the Executive Assistant to the CEO of ConnectME, a business consulting firm that supports entrepreneurs in the Middle East. There she focused on sustaining client relationships, supporting business development, and leading business licensing operations.

Ashley is fluent in Farsi and French, and is working on solidifying her Spanish. She is an avid hiker and delights in discussions about social entrepreneurship.

Welcome, Kevin Peach!

Posted in Human Resources on March 05, 2015
Kevin Peach

Kevin Peach

Kevin Peach is an emergency management professional and consultant with over seven years of experience, and a reputation for effectively leading programs that address preparedness, protection, security, response, recovery and mitigation.  Kevin Peach joins M Powered Strategies directly following his work with National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), where he represented the nonprofit sector’s capabilities to support the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) through the National Response Framework and National Disaster Recovery Framework.  In this role, he served as a subject matter expert and senior advisor on catastrophic planning and other national security risks to FEMA, the Department of Defense (DoD), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).  Kevin’s experience includes the formulation and development of policies addressing the mobilization of resources during emergencies, the preparation of emergency plans, and the coordination of emergency operations. He has composed Congressional testimony for the Assistant Administrator of Recovery for FEMA, contributed to the evaluation of the National Health Security Strategy, and advised the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force responsible for coordinating the federal distribution of $60 billion.

Kevin has a Master’s in Public Service Management from DePaul University in Chicago, and wrote his thesis on how to engage military veterans in emergency management frameworks. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Bachelor’s degree in Nonprofit Management, a program which allowed him to focus on disaster relief and public-private partnerships. His capstone centered on recovery models, examining social and economic impacts.

He is passionate about serving the VA and the veteran community.  For the past six years, Kevin has been a key advisor, advocate, and grant writer for various veteran service organizations (VSOs) including Team Rubicon, The Mission Continues, Leave No Veteran Behind, Veteran’s Farm, and CAUSE USA.

In his free time, he enjoys sailing and racing on the Chesapeake and fly-fishing in Shenandoah.