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)

Are you from London?

If you are trying to learn up new things and stay in and around London, you should follow Maven Training's blog along with PM4Girls

While they talk about the latest happenings in the world of project management for all of us to read, you also get to know about the next seminar and workshops and everything thats happening in the city!

To know more about the latest launch of PRINCE 2: 2009 click here.

What you didnt know about blogging

Jun 23, 2009 | 0 comments |
That it takes a lot of consistency to blog.

Writing is the easiest part of it. You have started blogging because you like writing and the topic you talk about.

Writing 2-3 times a week for years is not easy. At some point you might feel not so inspired because you are not getting feedbacks from readers or well wishers and you still have to continue.

It's hard reaching out to the core group of bloggers writing on the same topic. You are working on your blog every single day and no one is reading it. How maddening would that be?

Before starting out you should know: If you started your blog with a target or are you simply writing for the love of it on topics ranging from your first car to your first job?

Who are your visitors? What do they want from your blog?

Blogging is fun but doing it day after day will take zeal, new ideas, killing procastination and waking up to the fact that your voice can reach millions for real!

Are You New to Project Management?

Ladies and Gentlemen- I'm honored to present before you the first guest blogger of steppingintopm- Josh Nankivel from pmstudent

I received an email from someone the other day who is very interested in becoming a project manager. She doesn’t have any experience in the field yet, and wanted some advice on how to proceed. She assumed that the PMP exam is what she should be looking into getting.

She mentioned that she is saving up for a training camp that claims they can train her to pass the PMP exam without project experience. I want to thank her for writing to me and taking action towards her career goals!

Unfortunately, that training camp is engaging in unethical practices. If they are condoning that people take the PMP exam without any work experience as a project manager, that really burns me!

Becoming a Project Manager

For those who would like to get started in project management the RIGHT way, here are a few suggestions:
  1. I’ve said this before, but when it comes to project management, general management, and many other careers you just need to go get some experience. Get on a project team somehow and find someone who is doing what you want to get into. Ask them to mentor you. Do odd jobs for them, things they find tedious but that you will learn from. Go above and beyond and tap into the veterans. You will be surprised how quickly a great attitude and passion can open doors for progressively greater levels of responsibility.
  2. If you have no experience yet, the PMP certification is NOT for you. Neither are the IPMA certifications. The lowest-level IMPA certification requires “2 FTE years working on projects or 6 months and BA/BS” experience. The PMP requires 3 of experience with a BA/BS, or 5 without. I interpret “leads and directs project teams” as experience as an actual project manager.
  3. A great way to get some formal education and an introductory certification is to go for the CAPM exam. The minimum requirements for this exam are 23 contact hours of project management education OR 1,500 hours where you “contribute to a project team”.

  4. If you do seek education in project management, I would like to add that it’s value is greatly diminished unless you are actively working in a project environment where you can implement the concepts you are learning, or at least use a real project environment as a means for comparing “book learning” to real life.

    I hope that helps if you are wanting to break into project management. Any more advice from veterans out there who are reading this? (Besides “run away! What are you thinking?!? It’s hell in here!!!!)

    Photo by squant via Flickr, licensed under the Creative Commons for commercial work

    Josh Nankivel, PMP
    is the founder of, a site dedicated to helping new and aspiring project managers succeed. He is a project manager for the ground system of the Landsat Data Continuity Mission, a joint project between the USGS and NASA. Josh's academic background includes a BS in Project Management and he is PMP certified.

    Resource for project managers

    Heres one cool resource to use from pmstudent to know more about getting into project management.

    I subscribe to it and the frequently sent personalized emails that Josh sends is a great way to get your hand on amazing tips, resource links and best way to have the awareness that you should do a little more to be in the domain.

    Right, you already are certified. So, here's something for you as well Project Managers.

    Thank you Josh.

    Why it’s hard being a newbie?

    Obviously because no one will take you seriously.

    People are hesitant to give you the chance to whip up a really nice project. They will always blame your inexperienced soul, your lack of domain knowledge, your inability to handle deadline and pressure.

    I know. Newbies might not have 16 years of experience behind them but they sure have the new technology, the zeal to work harder and flame to learn more. Try that.

    So, if you are having a hard time getting a spot in the team:

    • Observe well. Swoop down on every opportunity to volunteer for extra work.
    • Get the best mentor possible and use your persuasion skills to convince them that you are here for real- to be a project manager.
    • When you are pushed to the sidelines, work harder. Finish your assigned task and dive deeper into projects. Read through project documents if you get nothing else.
    • Start a blog. It can turn people around- write truly, honestly and on what you can. Now they know you are into it and want to grow.
    • Don’t take a NO personally. It’s just that most people don’t want to spend the time to train you; they would rather do it themselves. Persistence pays.
    • Stick around. Be there. Listen to client calls, meeting updates, anything really. Try taking meeting notes.
    • Read about terminologies, technology, clients- anything that will help you understand the next conversation better. Scribble the technical jargon you don't understand that you overheard two seniors talking about to "search" them later and learn about.
    • Get along yet be professional. It’s important to be objective as well. Know where to draw the line.
    • Never give up because it’s not happening right now. It will because you won't give up.
    • Do the right thing. Don’t get involved in politics or back door policy to get what you want. It will backfire.
    (Picture Courtesy: Google Images)

    Working in a Global Setting - II

    If you are in technology chances are you have or will work with a multicultural team who are perhaps located miles away at some point.

    Either they are part of your team or work has been outsourced.


     They are here because they are part of the team and want to help as much as you do
     Clear instructions help when working miles away. So, when work is delegated ensure you have mentioned what is required, when and how you want it delivered.
     Try listening when they come up with issues and being in their shoes.
     Distance can be a major factor, so overlapping times for meetings might be necessary.
     They are emotional. Bonding as one human to another might help, instead of focusing only as colleagues.
     Communication gap will be the source of discontent. Conversations/phone calls should be given priority over emails if traveling onsite/offsite doesn’t seem a feasible option during the recession period.
     Fairness matters
     Don’t take things for granted, please re-confirm.
     Recognition for special initiation or delivery encourages everyone to pitch in or contribute to the best of their ability.
     Understand the regional politics and try to keep it minimal. Lesser the better.
     Beware of the cultural taboos when conversing with the counterpart from other nations.

    To know more about working in a multicultural team, click here

    Working in a Global Setting- I

    Have you worked with a globally placed team ?

    If you are getting into it, there are certain things you might want to consider:
    • Time zone difference is the most important thing to consider
    • Culture needs to be treated as a bonding factor
    • Accents and language barriers can be solved
    • Work ethics should be synched
    • Communication will keep the team together
    • Work will happen on how you manage all of the above
    So, why hear it from me? Having worked closely with two cultures- Indian (by birth) and American (Masters degree and later work) I have survived and made some lifelong friends on the way from both the worlds through my work. Being globally placed is awesome.

    Part II of this post coming soon.

    (Picture Courtesy: Google Images)

    What mentor-ing can teach you?

    When I started mentoring a few newly joined individuals in my office, I always remembered and thought about my mentors and what they have taught me. I’ve been incredibly lucky to have some amazing mentors who have helped me groom as a professional and an individual.

    Mentoring is hard. You are trying to impart lessons of a lifetime to them. I make sure they have good work ethics with a good heart; that helping each other is important. More I work with them, more I figure out about myself.

    What you learn from your mentees:

    Your ability to bring out the best in them- By helping them do so, you work on your patience, your teaching skills and analyzing your own mistakes that you should work on to become a better mentor.
    Teaching skills- As they say, if you can’t help a 10 year old understand a concept you don’t know it yourself. True to the core! Now you know how much you know.
    The basics of being a professional- If you tell someone to be honest and be true to your work and be inquisitive; you will have to show them yourselves in your job. Or what you teach is just for the sake of teaching; they won’t follow it because they see you not doing it.
    They will observe what you don’t teach- I always did and I know they do too. The best teachings are those which are not taught and the mentees simply pick them up by being in your proximity. Your bad habits too. So beware.

    We all want one of those perfectly curious and patient mentees who are easier to teach, who pick up skills easily, are smart and witty and want to learn. When you don’t have a perfect one, remember how perfect a mentor you can be is what will determine their learning curve.

    So what if they are not perfect, you can be.

    (Picture: Google images)

    Have you joined PM groups yet?

    Have you? If not, you are missing out on a lot of information.

    Being part of groups help you find treasure bags, you didnt even know about. Join the project management community where ever possible and of course keep a track of them. Jot the links in a notepad or word document and once in a while go browse.

    Here's what I found from the linkedin group today:

    Now, you know why you should join groups!

    If you are not giving certifications yet and just trying to figure out what the PM stuff is all about, this is a good chance for you to try them out and see. You will get an idea at least.

    Why wait? Browse the site and thank the author.

    Steppingintopm is back

    Jun 1, 2009 | | 0 comments |

    I’m back and thank you for visiting my blog!

    If you have noticed, my blog has a registered domain name now- . Hurray! I wanted to celebrate my one year of blogging (June 13) so after much deliberation I got myself a domain. Of course with the new domain, my hard earned page rank of 3 went poof.

    Nope, I didn’t take a vacation from work; I was here all the time working and reading blogs, sites and New York Times like always. I did spend some time with my family, enjoyed with my sister who visited for 10 days from London, watched movies, went shopping and finally have my new schedule working for me. Yes, I am exercising every morning. It was about time!

    The break seemed great and I spent as much as possible offline trying out new ideas, going for walks and enjoying the rain.

    Here are some links you can visit, while I get ready with my regular posts:

    (Picture: google images)