Interview with Craig Brown

Craig Brown was a project manager and an analyst in the banking and ITC industries. He has also worked in law, education, and welfare. Craig has a great blog at betterprojects.net.
Josh: Craig, thank you so much for sharing your experience and background with the pmStudent community! How did you get started in Project Management?
Craig: I began my career in the call centre of a telephone company after graduating in the mid-to-late nineties. There were many talented people in the team that I was inducted into, and they all went on to other IT positions. This is only one example of many. But it gives you a hint at a pattern. You should surround yourself with intelligent and motivated people, sometimes accidentally.
My colleagues and I would strive to excel in this role, rather than just show up. We also have a manager who challenged us to be more useful. Instead of focusing on local KPIs. A few of us began to look into product manuals and investigate business processes during our downtimes. Two of my colleagues and I began to pester management with suggestions for how to improve things. Even though some might have considered us presumptuous, it was done constructively. We all eventually got other small projects jobs. Our motivation, attitude, and skills helped us all get into project roles.
This led me to create a team that focuses on operational process improvements. This naturally led to technology improvements. These were initially minor but they grew over time.
Josh: Who are you most inspired by and from whom have you learned a lot about project management?
Craig: I have had the pleasure of working with a few program directors and managers that I consider to be exceptional. Andrew Murray, Mohan Victor, and Mike Augello are three that spring to mind. There were many others who were great to me and who taught me valuable lessons. But the things these guys shared were an outstanding commitment to delivering excellent customer service as well as a high-quality product at the conclusion of your project. I think I’ve named names, but I should have included a few more: Annette Finck and Greg Reeves Smith, James Mahoney, etc.
I must also say that I have made some great online contacts. Capers Jones of SEI and Glenn Alleman from the Herding Cats blog have provided a lot of information and insight, and were very approachable. Many other software and project management names were also very helpful and welcoming when I asked.
Find great people to work with and reach out online. There is plenty to help.
Josh: Which course work or education would your recommend?
Craig: Two degrees are helpful. One to get you started, and one to help you move from intermediate to advanced a decade later. It is important to be committed to continuous learning.
Participate in online and local communities. Learn from others. It sharpens your mind when you face professionals.
Finally, you should write articles for PM Student on a daily basis. You should focus in particular on an area that you are not proficient in. The need to research the article will increase your professional knowledge.
Josh: What advice would you give regarding online education and training in project management?
Craig: Online learning is a popular option. I don’t believe a paid online class would be for me. I would get more value from a book than from face-to-face interaction. It is possible to obtain a certification by doing this.

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