MPS—Keynote Sponsor for PMIWDC 2015 Symposium

A Podcast Interview with MPS' Jimmy Church

A Podcast Interview with MPS’ Jimmy Church

Nicole Baillis, Patti McMullen, and Karli Kloss

Nicole Baillis, Patti McMullen, and Karli Kloss

Among the hundreds of attendees and presenters at last week’s 2015 Symposium of the Washington, DC chapter of the Project Management Institute (PMIWDC), M Powered Strategies had a strong presence, serving as volunteers, speakers, and attendees.

MPS President, Kendall Lott, and co-presenter Laura Barnard of PMO Strategies, spoke to a packed room about “Making a Difference with Project Management,” based on their experience with the record-setting Project Management Day  of Service (PM-DoS), which was spearheaded by Kendall and took place on Martin Luther King Day this year. Now slated as an annual event, PM-DoS is an opportunity for Project Managers (PMs) to provide their special skills to the non-profit market.

Participants at the symposium had an opportunity to share their stories for PM Point of View. This podcast, hosted by Kendall Lott, looks at Project Management from all the angles. The topic of the day was Project Failure, and the range of issues, pitfalls, and lessons learned promises to make for an informative podcast – to be broadcast later this year.

As Keynote Sponsor, M Powered Strategies is producing videos of all of the breakout sessions and the keynote speeches for the PMIWDC archives. MPS’ in-house video specialist, Mary Flannery, will combine audio recordings of each session with the accompanying PowerPoint deck.

“I’m delighted to help the chapter add to its archive of educational material to continue service to its members,” Kendall remarked, as he reflected on his role, past and present, in the organization, as well as the future of PMIWDC. “As past chair, I take great pride in being part of another professionally organized and well-attended PMIWDC event. It’s inspiring to watch this chapter, which is the largest of the entire international Project Management Institute, expand its services to our members and to the community. It’s vibrance and vitality are impressive!”

Skill-Based Volunteering Provides Greater Impacts to Market by Karli Kloss, PACE Cohort 8

Posted in Community Involvement / Pro Bono Program on September 30, 2015

“If you have a skill, provide it pro bono to the market.” When M Powered Strategies’ President Kendall Lott shared this simple idea with colleagues at an event, he had no idea it would germinate into the Project Management Day of Service, an event of size and scope the Project Management Institute had never before undertaken.

On January 19, 2015—Martin Luther King Jr. Day—the Sheraton Tysons Hotel was bustling with activity. 300 project managers spent the day with 100 non-profits, planning and documenting strategies to execute projects they had been struggling to get off the ground. This was the largest “ScopeAthon” in the Project Management Institute’s history. When the day came to a close, 87 non-profits had completely scoped projects; $200,000 worth of pro bono project management service had been provided, compounding to a $1 million investment in the local non-profit market.

At the Project Management Institute’s Washington DC Symposium last week, Kendall Lott and Laura Bernard, founder of PMO Strategies, discussed this event in great detail. While they presented the group with a great roadmap for applying lessons learned, I found myself more interested in the opening numbers, and how great an impact one day of volunteering can have on a community and its stakeholders.

Boiling the Day of Service down to a single day is misleading—there were months of hard work and planning by Kendall, Laura, and the event’s PMO that made this day a success. The window in which services were actually provided was a small one, but the effects were immediate and wider than anticipated. As Kendall and Laura observed, not only did non-profits walk away with fully scoped projects, the project management volunteers themselves walked away with great pride and accomplishment.

Often volunteer initiatives are measured by the satisfaction of the beneficiaries, but in this case, the volunteers themselves described the event as exceeding expectations. Many felt empowered by the chance to not only volunteer, but to use their particular skill set while volunteering. Successful volunteering can mean a lot of bodies showing up to staff a soup kitchen or Habitat for Humanity build—and that’s still incredibly important. But there is growing recognition in the corporate community that the most powerful volunteer opportunities – the ones that energize and motivate employees – are ones that allow them to grow and develop through their volunteerism.

When an individual is passionate about a topic, that energy can be translated into actionable results. For project management professionals, the Day of Service was a chance to not only donate their time, but their highly specific skills, and that distinction made all the difference. By incorporating personal interest and specific competencies into professional volunteer services—services the non-profit market desperately needs—the value-added for corporate community engagement will compound over time, increasing the impact in communities that need it most.

PREP News: September 2015

Posted in PREP Newsletter Archive on September 18, 2015

As we say goodbye to summer and hello to to fall, we do the same to Cohort 7 who have closed their PACE chapter while we look forward to the continuing journey of PACE Cohort 8. Check out the three topics of this month’s PREP newsletter.

In This Issue: PACE Cohort 7 Closing Ceremony, PACE Spotlight—Rima Abouziab, Cohort 8, PACE Cohort 8 Dinner and Show

Welcome, Anya Clifford!

Posted in Human Resources / PACE Program / PREP on September 16, 2015
Anya Clifford

Anya Clifford

Anya Clifford joins M Powered Strategies’ PACE Cohort 9 from Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT), a national nonprofit that partners with major corporations to increase diversity. While at MLT, Anya was the Senior Associate for College Programs, where she managed research, communications, and strategic initiatives. Her previous work experience focused on the pharmaceutical industry, spanning pharmaceutical shareholder engagement, health policy, and life sciences research.

Anya graduated cum laude from Wellesley College with a B.A. in Bioethics, and serves on the leadership board for Capital Partners of Education in DC. She enjoys traveling to new cities, and looks forward to contributing to the MPS team.

Why Non-Profits Need Project Management by Bryan Kovalick, PACE Cohort 8

Posted in PM POV Podcast Blog / Project Management on September 14, 2015

Podcast BlogHow do you break a non-profit out of “the hamster wheel of survival?” With project management, argues Max Skolnik, Director of The Taproot Foundation’s DC office.

Mr. Skolnik sat down with M Powered Strategies’ President Kendall Lott for a podcast interview to discuss how pro bono project managers can professionalize non-profits’ work, while increasing their fundraising success. Too many non-profits are mired in a fundraising trap, where their only focus is fundraising for next quarter, or next year. They need project management, and desperately.

While I agree with Mr. Skolnik’s perspective, I disagree with him in one critical way. Non-profits need more than just pro bono labor from their project managers—they also need these project managers to build the capacity of their employees. Training employees to eventually take on project management roles themselves is the only way to liberate non-profits from the “hamster wheel of survival.”

In their defense, many non-profits live on a razor’s edge of fundraising just to keep the lights on. According to the Urban Institute’s 2014 brief on non-profits, 66.4% of all charities raise less than $500,000 a year. Many non-profits don’t survive in this environment; from 2007-2011, 13,591 human service non-profits closed their doors.

You cannot fault non-profits for focusing so heavily on fundraising, but I have observed that many non-profits put the cart before the horse. They focus on raising additional funds before proving they can work efficiently with limited funding. Furthermore, small non-profits are often competing for scarce funding opportunities with larger non-profits, staffed by fulltime fundraisers and grant writers. To that end, the federal government is increasingly cautious with grant funding, demanding documentation of successfully completed projects and deliverables.

Even non-profits that rely primarily on private donors are not isolated from these trends. Donors today are far more in-tune with non-profit practices and exceedingly empowered in their donation decisions. Consumer-conscious donors may take the time to research a non-profit’s transparency and effectiveness before donating. Tools like Charity Watch or Charity Navigator make this research exceptionally simple.

Because of these developments, non-profits can ignore the demands for professional project management to their detriment. As they compete with a growing number of non-profits, over a shrinking pool of resources, the necessity to train employees on effective project management is more important than ever. By internalizing this mindset, non-profits won’t just survive, they will thrive.

Project Management’s Competitive Edge by Karli Kloss, PACE Cohort 8

In a city like Washington DC, where many recent graduates are academically overqualified but professionally
underprepared, the barriers to employment can be extremely challenging. Young professionals are eager to learn but are often caught in the paradoxical loop of not having enough work experience for an entry-level position.

In a recent article for the Project Management Institute, Novid Parsi discusses alternative ways recent graduates and young professionals can stand out when they enter the job market. Among them is one particular skill that they can develop outside of an actual job or internship: project management. Experience with project management is very appealing to prospective employers, and it can be gained in a variety of ways. College students or young professionals can manage projects through societies they belong to, or volunteer organizations. A student who has ever organized a volunteer effort on behalf of his fraternity, or a recent graduate who plans events for her local alumni chapter—they have project management experience.

For those who want to go the extra mile and truly demonstrate passion and experience with project management, a single certification can go a long way. Most young professionals won’t qualify for a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification this early in their careers, but there are other options that can turn acceptable experience into outstanding.

At M Powered Strategies, the Professional Apprenticeship for Consulting Excellence (PACE) Program, combines many of these elements into a rigorous 25-week program. PACErs work full-time on client delivery, but take on many more responsibilities while they are here. They are assigned corporate projects, or frequently design and execute new corporate initiatives within the company. They attend weekly trainings, conduct an independent business case, and receive an ANSI-accredited certification.

Whether PACErs continue at MPS as full-time staff, or follow a different path after their 25 weeks, they have been trained from many directions on how to be effective project managers. These skills will serve them well as young professionals, but more than that, these skills will set them up for success as they move towards management positions and continue to grow in their careers.