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Project Professionals At Work
Project professionals are a quiet, but powerful force in today’s business environment as they help companies manage change by filling gaps of expertise and provide them bandwidth during peak work periods.
These professionals are talented, highly specialized, degreed and credentialed executives with an average 15 years of experience in their discipline who have built solid careers. Some choose project work when in between full time jobs, but others make a career out of project work because they love the challenge of working in different business environments where they can leverage their experience and skills. Beyond the opportunity to expand their abilities, project professionals enjoy many perks including great pay and benefits.
Mark Viner, Division President of StevenDouglas said, “Becoming a dedicated project professional as an alternative career choice allows professionals the ability to take control of their careers with increased variety, flexibility and exposure to multiple clients, industries and systems. Their skills are sharpened and expanded which often times make them more valuable and in-demand than those who are traditionally employed”
We interviewed two longtime StevenDouglas Project Associates –Annette Frisbie (in South Florida) and Deanna Hawkins (in Minneapolis) – to find out what keeps them coming back.
What drove you to elect project work as a career choice?
Annette Frisbie – During my corporate career, the majority of my work was project oriented. At Eastern Airlines and IBM, I would be called upon to take the lead on a system implementations, to manage a process improvement plan or plan for a move of facilities, etc. and through those efforts, my skills in managing projects and programs became my passion. As a result, I took the time to get certified in project and program management and began to manage multi-million dollar projects and programs. Managing projects involves being structured, building project plans, facilitating action and holding cross functional teams accountable to the deadlines imposed in the project plan, all of which are my strengths. After my time at IBM ended, people from my past would contact me to manage projects for their current companies and I became a career project consultant.
Deanna Hawkins – A couple of things drove me to project work. I get restless after a short period of time and look for a new challenge. Project work is a great alternate to being in the same job for 15 years. Also, I tend to be a workaholic, which leads to burn out, and workaholics have no work life balance. Doing project work allows me time for my family, mission work, and other important personal activities and commitments.
What do you like about project work as opposed to traditional employment?
Annette Frisbie – Project work forces me to maintain an “I’m here to do whatever you need me to do” attitude. In project work, you don’t have the drama or the politics you may have in a traditional job. Project work allows me to make more money when I’m working and offers a great variety of industries, business problems to solve and projects to be done.
Deanna Hawkins – I like being able to focus on doing projects versus managing people and implementing HR policies, and all the other requirements of a full-time employee. When your main focus is doing the work, I feel you are better able to add value, be more nimble and respond to changing business requirements.
What’s the most interesting project you’ve worked on?
Annette Frisbie – I was selected to be the Project Manager to revamp a 60, 000 square foot building that maintained aircraft. What made it interesting and enjoyable was to learn so much about airplanes, maintenance of airplanes and how to design a warehouse facility.
Deanna Hawkins – The most interesting project I’ve worked is the design and build of a calculation engine or system to automate the processing of one million journal lines/month for inter-segment charges to regulated legal entities. This included gaining understanding of regulatory accounting requirements, gathering/documenting system requirements from stakeholders, interpreting for developers, design support, detailed system testing, user acceptance testing, and overall business project management. After the initial deployment, I managed six enhancement releases and consistently delivered on time. I trained users at deployment and subsequent release.
How have client companies benefitted from engaging you on a project?
Annette Frisbie – Because I have a diverse control background in IT, Accounting and Audit, I can anticipate and understand where issues can occur in all of those areas and can liaise with all of those areas to come up with solutions. In addition, having many years of experience allows me to get more work done in a shorter period of time. As a consultant, you provide facts, not drama and you are always willing to help.
Deanna Hawkins – My diverse experience is a huge benefit for clients. I have worked in many different areas of accounting and audit, am flexible, and effective with all levels of management and employees. I’m not worried about my career path – I know StevenDouglas has my back!
What would you tell someone out there who is considering becoming a project professional as an alternative career choice?
Annette Frisbie – Make sure that you are wired right to be a consultant, realize that you have to bring structure and planning on project that could be very chaotic and unorganized. When you are in an environment, you have to focus and avoid distractions or you will get caught up spending too much time at the water cooler, which can allow for more drama. Realize that you will still make mistakes, but you have to learn from those mistakes and make sure you communicate well and often.
Deanna Hawkins – Develop marketable skills and experience; plug and play, and clearly add value; and network with everyone all the time.