Interview with Naomi Caietti

Today we have the honor of interviewing  Naomi Caietti has been a consultant, author, speaker and recognized expert on personal growth and leadership development for project managers for 10 years. She is a global speaker and is a featured subject matter expert for the community that reaches over 550K members. She was a featured speaker for their PMXPO 2011 on the topic "The Hard Work of Mastering Soft Skills: Take Your Leadership to the Next Level; with an audience reach of over 2000 attendees

She lives in Northern California and enjoys outdoor activities with her family and her two beloved dogs; Brownie and Biskit.

How did you become a project manager? Did you have a plan?

My dream job years ago would have been as an athletic coach or working as a fashion business executive.  Well, today I could not be further from my original dream but let’s see where I landed.

Most project managers come up through the ranks in an organization as “accidental” project managers (PMs): certainly this was my story.  Education was always very important to me; my path began when I attended college and graduated from California State University Sacramento with a Bachelor of Arts degree.  I took a job out of college at an insurance company and worked in their Information Technology (IT) Division as a pc coordinator.

 It was a wonderful experience because I was mentored by ex-IBMers and they really focused on growing new IT staff.  Learning new data center processes and techniques was a daily experience and I became responsible for business analysis, software, and IT data center and telecommunication infrastructure, procurement, desktop support and training.  Also, I was one of the main points of contact in my unit for most of our internal lines of business so I really enjoyed the customer service side of my job as well.

After about five years, I had the opportunity to work for in the public sector as a business analyst for the California State Lottery; a state agency that runs a lot like a private sector business.  It was a perfect fit for me and so my journey in public service working in IT started me down a path I didn't exactly plan for …at least not until 10 years ago.

Working in a male dominated profession was challenging but I found that there was plenty of other women programmers, IT Managers and Executives that supported my continued career path.  As the profession of project management matured and was recognized as more valuable in both government and the private sector, I focused on putting together a plan to sit for the exam and get my credential as a Project Management Professional..(PMP)  Below were my 5 – 10 year goals that guided me through the process:

  • Increase my capacity for individual growth, PM maturity and achievement by earning my PMP® certification.
  • Gain a better understanding of my leadership style and continuously improve specific leadership and communication skills through volunteer opportunities in my community.
  • Enhance my ability to lead by example with a calmer, focused, energetic presence to produce results.
  • Enhance organizational maturity and accomplish critical organizational initiatives by exposure to new insights for leadership issues and techniques.
  • Expand my network of practitioners’ to influence advancement and growth of the profession of project management 

So, for the last ten years I focused on growing complimentary skill sets for my career as an IT project manager.  I served as a volunteer leader with Project Management Institute in various volunteer leadership capacities, passed my PMP exam, graduated from PMI’s Leadership Institute Master Class Program and along with other project managers on twitter (#PMOT) found my voice my on Social Media.  

Today, I’m very active within the PMI community as a thought leader, speaker, published author and blogger and in my day job I work as a credentialed Project Manager and Enterprise Architect working in the field of Information Technology in the public sector in California. As an Enterprise Architect (EA), I help define how information and technology will support the business operations and provide benefits for the business. Over the years, I've enjoyed consulting with teams to design, build and implement technology. IT  is a exciting field for project managers; I'm a geek at heart and a dreamer on a deadline.

What's the secret of your success?

These are my top 10 secrets to my success:

  • Believe in yourself; be willing to take risks, reach for YOUR dreams and set lofty goals. - Only YOU can determine what you can and can't achieve.
  • Power of the mirror - Self discovery of your inner giftedness, integrity, and character will be the most powerful keys to your success. 
  • Mentor others and lend a hand to help others achieve their success. - You will truly pass along a long lasting legacy and learn from those who you've mentored in the process. 
  • Surround yourself with other successful leaders and foster global relationships to perpetuate continuous growth and development. - change is constant; growth is optional. 
  • Develop a greater cultural awareness and be adaptable to lead project teams in virtual communities around the world. - We live in a virtual world today so the ability to adapt is essential. 
  • Think of failure as success in disguise – be willing to learn from your mistakes, find a mentor/coach, and focus on your personal growth. 
  • Network - Reach out to your community to network, attend meetings, and offer to share knowledge in social networks. 
  • Have a voice  – Overcome your fear of speaking, put yourself out there, share your stories. 
  • Reflection – Reflect back to move forward; there is nothing more powerful than to take stock of what you've accomplished to begin the next chapter of your life. 
  • Openness – Put yourself in the way of new opportunities; you will be amazed at the new relationships you will form and opportunities you will get involved in to help make a difference in someone’s life.

How does your day usually look like?

Well, just check in with any project manager and you may hear them say:
•I'm running to another meeting.
•I'll be right there; I have to update my issues and risk log
•Let me share a copy of the project charter; you'll want to review prior to our conference call

Three qualities any newbie venturing into project management should have.

Project Management is not for the faint of heart otherwise, everyone would be doing it.  It’s both and art and science to manage the reality of projects; people, processes and politics.

Here are my top three:

  • Self Motivated – Project Managers must have the drive and passion to multi task in most environments today.  You may be managing multiple projects and need to be able to be good at time management and focus your attention on a myriad of project activities.  So, here’s a fun way to look at being self motivated. Be a STAR – Self motivated, Team player, Always, Ready to Shine
  • Be Adaptable – Embrace ambiguity.  Projects can take on a life of their own and as a project manager you are responsible to deliver your projects on time, within budget and that meet customer needs.  It’s no small task so make it a daily focus to do the following: Be Open, Be Flexible, Be Present
  • Good communicator – Communication is 90% of a project manager’s job on a daily basis.  You must be able to acquire these core skills through training and personal development working with a mentor or senior project manager.  You’ll develop a library of best practices of tools, tips and techniques in your bag that you will reuse and refine over time.   

What do you see as a major change in project management in 2013?

These are my top three:

  • Multi-faceted skill sets – Major industries like Information Technology, Telecommunications, Healthcare, to name a few, have undergone significant downsizing due to the economy.  All organizations are running projects of various sizes and complexity so the need for project managers who are versed in project, program and agility using agile methodologies will continue to be in high demand.
  • Core skills (soft skills) are just as important today and continue to be equally important to be relevant in the marketplace as a candidate looking for employment or if you are looking for your next project or promotion.
  • Creative disruption is growing as more organizations continue to evolve and find ways to grown their brand, stay competitive in the marketplace and retain customers.  Project Managers also need to recognize that what made them successful today, may not make them successful in the future. Project Managers should focus on their brand, participate in social media, and plan to network more in 2013.

Thank you Naomi.