PMI Space Coast Professional Development Day

Pictured Left to Right: Front row- Luis DeJesus, student; Dr. Deborah Carstens, Academic Chair; Sarah Prouty, student. Back row- Neal Ravindran, student; Jennifer Morin, Program Coordinator; Ken O’Donnell, student; James Devine, Professor.  

By Jennifer Morin, Program Coordinator for Nathan M. Bisk College of Business, Online Programs

Jennifer Morin, author

Are you interested in the field of Project Management? If so, what could be more exciting than networking with practitioners, educators, and other students who have the same aspirations as you?!

I recently had the privilege of attending the first annual Project Management Institute (PMI) Space Coast Chapter Professional Development Day (PDD). This exciting event was held here at Florida Institute of Technology on Friday, September 23, 2011 and was open to both PMI members and non-members, with students receiving an additionally discounted rate. Prevalent throughout the day-long event was the ongoing theme that, “project management is a profession, not just an activity.” The event was filled with participants and presenters who shared a true passion for the field. As six talented and experienced speakers discussed both traditional and innovative new practices in the project management profession, over seventy-five PDD attendants listened intently, took notes, asked thought-provoking questions, and often laughed in acknowledgement of the comical real-life experiences they shared with the lecturers.

Many of the speakers have published several books on the topic and were delighted to share the names of those who influenced them throughout their training and education in the project management field. Following the networking continental breakfast, the introductory speaker was FIT’s own Dr. Robert Niebuhr, Senior Vice President for Financial Affairs. For those interested in furthering their formal education in the field, Dr. Niebuhr highlighted the programs Florida Tech offers, including the MBA with a Project Management specialization through Florida Tech Online, recently accredited through PMI Global Accreditation Center (GAC). This highly esteemed accreditation equates to all graduates of the MBA PM program leaving with a solid foundation of project management concepts and also earning 1,500 hours of project management experience, which is part of the requirement to sit for the Project Management Professional (PMP) credential exam. Florida Tech also proudly offers an MS in Project Management through our Extended Studies Division (and virtually).

Following Dr. Niebuhr was Dr. Harold Kerzner, author of 45 texts in the field, who spoke of the future of project management in terms of planning strategically by utilizing key performance indicators (KPIs) as meaningful metrics of project performance. Next, Dr. Tom Sheives of Unstuck Company spoke of 7-Eleven, Inc.’s successful implementation of Project Management Offices (PMOs) and how PMOs can play a crucial role in project success. Then, Project Manager, Nani Sadowski, spoke of her own experiences in the constantly evolving healthcare industry. Ms. Sadowski discussed lean processes, touched upon best practices, and also provided guidance to attendants in the audience as to the fact that gaining healthcare industry experience prior to seeking employment as a project manager in the healthcare field was highly recommended and sought after by most employers, including her own PMO.

After a delicious lunch was provided to attendees while they were networking (and happily winning raffle prizes from event sponsors), Chuck Millhollan of Churchill Downs, Incorporated provided some wonderful insight in to his own experience by noting that true project success can be measured by stakeholder expectations and satisfaction. Mr. Millholan also mentioned that project requirements should be agreed upon and well-documented prior to the start of any project, as well as be managed effectively until the project’s completion. Then, Frank Saladis presented on the topic of the future in project management and made an excellent point that project managers must make themselves as individuals, as well as a profession, indispensable to business. Effective project management has become a strategic core competency for companies like IBM (a major employer for project managers) and, in order to stay competitive in the field, practitioners must think to the future in terms of evolving business trends and developing personal action plans to stay ahead of the game.

Presenter Rick Morris closed out the individual lectures with a comical presentation titled “Stop Playing Games,” which shares the name of his most recently published book. Many attendants related to his discussion on corporate culture, organizational politics, and time/cost constraints that can often lead to project failure. Morris also discussed ways to overcome these types of barriers in the project management field and has written several books about his experiences throughout his career. At the end of the day, the event closed with a very informative, as well as enlightening, panel discussion.

Students from both the MS PM and MBA PM programs at Florida Tech, in additional to on-campus business students, were invited to attend Professional Development Day courtesy of a hand-full of scholarships offered by FIT’s Nathan M. Bisk College of Business. The opportunity was appreciated greatly by the students and many offered their thoughts of the event (which can be found at the bottom of this page). Dr. Deborah Carstens, Florida Tech Associate Professor, Information Systems and Academic Chair, Project Management, would like to express her gratitude to all of her wonderful student volunteers who assisted with the event, as the event would not have been a success without their help. I would also like to personally thank Dr. Carstens (and the Nathan M. Bisk College of Business) for allowing me to attend this event and volunteer my efforts. ***To view all photos of student attendees, event guests, and student helpers, please click on this link.

In closing, all participants were thrilled with the Professional Development Day and were asked to complete satisfaction surveys to provide constructive feedback for next year’s event. The participants were delighted to receive certificates of attendance before they left that day. Additionally, those attendants who are already Certified Project Management Professionals (PMPs) earned a total of 8 professional development units (PDUs) for attending this event, which serves the purpose of maintaining certification status through the Project Management Institute (PMI). Overall, the event was a great success and offered insight to practitioners who are already in the field, as well motivation to the students and graduates who aspire to join their ranks. Personally, I truly enjoyed being a part of the event and I certainly look forward to attending next year’s Professional Development Day.


Student Quotes:

“This was the first time I attended a PMI event like this and thought it was both informative and enlightening. I also believe that the speakers and their experiences with project management matters were inspirational and motivational. I definitely look forward to the next event. Thank you!”

Joel R. Davila, MS Project Management student


“I was impressed by the accreditation that my current program (MBA in Project Management) has achieved; GAC accreditation by PMI. Congratulations F.I.T.!

I appreciated the real world examples that all seven speakers discussed throughout the event as well as their fountain of knowledge in practical applications. It was both fun and educational to listen to all the speakers. I took many notes from each speaker and have already passed along a few gems that I picked up that day. I will be back next year.

I was encouraged that the future of Project Management was not even close to its potential of application in the world of business and that I am in the MBA for Project Management program at the right time. I encourage anyone with an interest in Project Management to attend this conference in the future and complete the MBA in Project Management program; both are well worth the time, cost, and scope of effort!”

Sarah Prouty, MBA Project Management student


“It was nice to get out of the office and attend the PDD [while learning] from the experiences of the [professionals] at the conference. Kerzner’s presentation blew my mind. Rick’s presentation was down to earth and [I] was able to relate to most of the things he said – especially the ‘how much will it cost’ game and the ‘when will it be done’ game.

Chuck’s presentation about eliciting requirements via the Delphi method from people with egos was also notable. Chuck and Tom did put me at ease by saying that (unlike Kerzner) they still believed that in a world full of scarce resources, cost of the project was still important.

Tom’s 7-Eleven experience was interesting to listen to. [I] always thought 7-Eleven was a coffee shop place for weary travelers [and] he changed that image for me. Nani opened my eyes to a whole new world for PMs– the healthcare arena.

Frank’s presentation drove home the fact that leadership is of utmost importance for a project manager. Frank’s theme ‘only leadership can translate vision to reality’ struck a chord with me.

The major take-away from that day was: ‘Get your PMP to get ahead in the field!’”

-Neal Ravindran, MBA Project Management student


“I really enjoyed the PMI Professional Day at the FIT Campus. Your team went all out and I believe it was a huge success. The lectures from the legendary Harold Kerzner, Tom Sheives, Nani Sadowski, Chuck Millhollan, Frank Saladis, and Rick Morris proved to be worthwhile and really shed some light on the future of Project Management. As the song goes; ‘the futures so bright, I gotta were shades.’”

Thanks again and I hope you keep doing these types of events,

Ken O’Donnell, MBA Project Management student





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