Lessons Learned from PMI® Global Congress 2012–North America

After the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York, New York, USA, architect and planner Frederic Schwartz set out to rebuild lower Manhattan, one project at a time.

Each proposed project pulled in 50 city departments -- an astronomical number of stakeholders. And having gone "mano a mano" with then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Mr. Schwartz told Congress attendees to always "believe in yourself and never stand down."

He worked that same brand of stakeholder management in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, after Hurricane Katrina flooded 80 percent of the city in August 2005. With US$14.5 billion for levee repairs and another US$8.5 billion for home revamps, Mr. Schwartz headed projects to rebuild 21 historic areas, 9,000 acres (3,642 hectares) and 1 million homes.

And in that process, he learned the value of reaching out to the local community. Along with door-to-door research, his team held 200 district meetings in churches and politicians' homes. Mr. Schwartz also pulled in local architects, engineers and historians. "We could not have moved forward without local experts," he says.

Also at Congress, four leaders in the profession discussed the state of women in project management. Moderated by Immediate PMI Board of Directors Past Chair Beth Partleton, PMP, the panel included Leigh Stevens of Microsoft; Teresa A. Knudson, PMP, of Mayo Clinic; and Eleanor Silverman, PhD, of NASA.

The comprehensive panel discussion covered a range of topics, including a new take on the triple constraint: work, home and family.

There's no question of the value that female project managers bring to projects. It's just good business. "A diverse workforce is a business imperative -- 83 percent of consumer decisions are made by women, yet 90 percent of tech products are developed by men," said Ms. Stevens.

For women looking for an edge in what remains a male-dominated profession, Ms. Knudson recommended training. "Education is one of the best ways to find a trap door up and around the glass ceiling," says Ms. Knudson. "And it is something women have within their control."

The panelists agreed that developing trust among team members -- regardless of gender -- helps overcome project challenges. "In the best project I've worked on, there was respect, and there was trust," says Ms. Stevens. "For me as a leader, being able to create that environment where you feel like people have got your back is key."

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