Interview with Elizabeth Harrin

She got me started on project management and is one of my favorite person who inspires me everyday. She is a great person to talk to, email for some advise and meeting her last year in person was the best thing ever- meet Elizabeth Harrin.

Her second book  is out and she is providing a free course, if you want to ramp up on your social media skills today.
Enjoy the interview.

Elizabeth, congratulations on your new book! Tell us something about your book and why did you choose to write something so specifically about project management and social media?

I’m part of PMI’s New Media Council and at the Congress in Orlando last year we did a presentation on the uses of social media for project teams.  It was amazingly well attended and people were standing up at the back as the room was so busy.  There were other presentations at Congress on new technologies that also had their rooms packed out.  It made me realize that there was an appetite amongst the project management community to learn about how we can embrace new technology and specifically social media to help with the way we manage project teams.  There are lots of books written about how to use social media for marketing and communication with customers, but nothing about how to use it behind the firewall for collaboration and communication between colleagues.  That’s the gap I was trying to fill.

I know you are an advanced user of social media, however how much of it do you use in ongoing projects and how?

I use Twitter and LinkedIn for personal development and information seeking, to stay in touch with relevant people, and to keep abreast of industry developments.  My blog allows me to connect with industry colleagues and other project managers.  I use Highrise as a contact management system - it's not 'pure' social media, but it includes several social media-y features like tags and as it is cloud-based it is good for multiple people keeping the same records up to date.  We also use wikis for keeping track of project

I am personally inspired by simply observing how much you are doing everyday- the book, the Otobos Group (your company), the job - how do you manage to keep everything together? Do you plan on a regular basis or yearly? Do you make a list of things you want to do and achieve every New Year and follow the plan or is it more instinctive?

I have two jobs and a life!  

I’m Head of IT Programme Delivery for a UK healthcare company, and I run my own company, a business writing practice that supplies content to websites.  We do other writing-related things too; recently I wrote a project management case study for a professor to use in her university classes, for example.  

Do I plan?  Well, as a project manager I should say yes, but it is a pretty flexible plan.  I’ve been blogging for nearly 5 years and this is the first year I have drawn up an editorial calendar.  I have a spreadsheet with a tab per month and in each month I note what I want to publish when, notes for the following month and so on.  So I can tell you that I have already started thinking about what A Girl’s Guide to Project Management will be doing for its 5th birthday in January!  I do regularly review what I would like to achieve, but new opportunities come along all the time and the plan gets reworked.  For example, Social Media for Project Managers is officially launched on 11 October, and I wanted to do something alongside that, so I wrote a course which you can get as a series of emails or as a short e-book.  That needed to be done in time for the launch of Social Media for Project Managers, but I have more flexibility with other deadlines.

In terms of fitting it all in, I believe that people make time for things that they love.  I love my healthcare job and I love writing.  It’s all about prioritizing your time.  I still have enough hours in the day to fit in the rest of my life, family, hobbies.  We waste a lot of time not doing the right things.

Tell us about a day in the life of Elizabeth Harrin.

OK, I’ll pick today.  I got up, checked my emails, and responded to a client who is enquiring about some website content for his site.  I left for the office, and read a bit more of The Get-it-Done Guy’s 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More, which is the book I’m currently reviewing.  I picked up a coffee on the way, and got to my desk about 8.45am.  

The office day comprises of project planning, financial management and budgets, a team meeting, prep for a meeting next week, following up on outstanding tasks, catching up on emails, reviewing documentation and speaking to suppliers.  I left the office after 5pm and head home, reading a daily paper on the journey.  
Once I’m at home, I reviewed personal and Otobos Group emails that I received through the day.  Many of the Otobos Group’s clients are in the U.S. so they are still at work by the time I get to their messages.  I do a bit of writing or office admin, catching up with sources for articles, talking to editors or editing video content.  Dinner, more work, an episode of CSI and bed!  Like many people who run their own business, I work long hours, but I love what I do so I don’t notice it until someone like you asks.

Did you always envision being who you are today as a child? What did you want to be then and what do you think changed you goal?

I never grew up thinking I would be a project manager.  Who knew what one of those was?  I wanted to be an ambulance driver.  My goal was changed when I realized I could join the ambulance service straight out of school and I really wanted to go to university first.  At university it changed again.

What inspires you?

What a difficult question!  I like learning, so I’m inspired by new things.  And snow.  I do like a good snowy landscape.

Do you have a new list coming up for New Year?

I expect I will re-work an old list and see how well I have done.  As I said, next year is A Girl’s Guide to Project Management’s 5th birthday, and the 5th year that Project Management in the Real World has been on the shelves, so I think I’ll be doing something around that.

Thank you for your time Elizabeth, always wonderful to have you here.

Thanks for having me!

To read her award winning blog click here and to see more on what she is working, visit her shop.  


Jeff Furman said...

Hi Soma, very nice interview to read, thanks a lot!