Interview with Joelle Godfrey

I met Joelle A. Godfrey through Twitter, she tweets about Project Management and following her is enough to learn about the basics of project management and then dive deeper into the intricacies.

She is a Project Management Professional specializing in Risk Management and helps companies reach their market delivery dates on time and minimize operation costs by focusing on risk management and continuous improvement.

She graduated from Princeton University where she earned her Bachelors degree in English, later earning a Masters in Project Management from Keller Graduate School of Management. A member of the Project Management Institute from which she received her Project Management Professional Certification in 2002. She was certified a Motorola Six Sigma Green Belt in 2006.You can see her website here and follow her in Twitter as well.

Joelle thank you very much for taking the time out for the interview.

How did you decide to become a project manager? Is it something you always wanted to be?
I started my career as a technical writer and transitioned into web development. At the time, I was fortunate to work with someone who recommended that I look into Project Management and gave me the opportunity to work on a Y2K project for the department. Later he recommended me for a role at Motorola.

What has been the most fulfilling experience you have had as a project manager?
I enjoy putting together a plan, working with people from each cross-functional team to ensure that we have covered critical areas of risk and identified risks we need to track. I also enjoy executing on the plan and passing milestones.

I read a lot about Japan in your twitter account, it seems you have stayed there for some time.
Actually, I’ve never been to Japan. I started studying Japanese a year ago and I’ve wanted to go there ever since. My goal is to travel there as soon as I find another job and get back into the flow of working full-time.

Do you still remember your first day as a PM, were you was it?
I have a horrible memory. I don’t recall what my first day was like, but if I could look back, I would tell myself to ask more questions.

In todays market, what would be the best strategy to become a project manager

I don’t know. It depends on where you’re starting from. I recommend building up your skillset by getting a project management certificate and asking your manager for an opportunity to support a PM on another project. 

Any recommendation on books you should read or tweets you should follow?
If I run into someone who tweets on Project Management I follow them. Search twitter for the #pmot hashtag and start there.
Right now I’d recommend: Right Brain Project Management by B. Michael Aucoin, Radical Project Management by Robb Thomsett and Re-inventing Project Management by Aaron J. Shenhar and Dov Dvir. All excellent books that I recommend you keep in your library for future reference.

Coming from a background in English Literature, was it hard transitioning into a technical field? What would you suggest to those coming from non technical background who want to work as project managers?

I don't think having a liberal arts background is a disadvantage - I think it helped me be flexible and continue to change to meet the demands of my career. That's what I would recommend to others who don't have a technical degree: continue to grow. If you need to pick up more traditional technical certifications to be more marketable - do so.

Thank you.

(Pic courtesy)