– By Dr. Emad Rahim, PMP, SCM, OMCP
Erika Flora, President and Founder of BEYOND20, started her career as a Microbiologist turned Project Manager and has always had a passion for improving how companies manage work and serve their customer base. In 2006, she started BEYOND20, a consulting and training firm built on expertise in IT Service Management, Cloud Services, and Project Management. Since that time, BEYOND20 has grown to include offices in Washington DC, San Diego, and Phoenix. BEYOND20 customers span 28 countries on 5 continents, and over 25% of Fortune 100 companies work with BEYOND20 to support their process improvement initiatives. BEYOND20 is proud to be a DBE certified woman-owned, minority-owned small business.
Through the company’s growth, Erika has given back to the community as an adjunct professor of Project Management at San Diego State University (SDSU) as well as a board member and volunteer with a number of professional and charitable organizations. She holds a Master’s Degree from the University of Florida (Go Gators!) and is a skilled writer, blogger, and presenter on a variety of technical and business topics. In addition to being PMP certified, she also earned several internationally recognized industry certifications, including PgMP, PRINCE2, CSP and ITIL Expert.
How did your project management career get started?
Completely by accident. I got my first job as a Project Manager for a small pharmaceutical due, in part, to my background in science as well as through networking.
How did you obtain your project management education and training?
I took night classes for the better part of a year, starting with a certificate in Project Management followed by PMP certification.
Can you please summarize your industry, and share how organizations are applying project management in the workplace?
I work in technology; and many organizations are looking for ways to deliver products and services more quickly and with higher quality. As such, they are embracing modern Project Management practices like Agile and Scrum.
What is your advice to people that are interested in pursuing a career in project management within your industry?
I recommend that aspiring, new, and long-time Project Managers get involved (and volunteer!) with their local chapter of PMI (http://www.pmi.org/membership/chapters). You will learn a ton of new skills, meet other Project Managers in your area, showcase your skills, and possibly even land a job. For aspiring Project Managers, here is an article I wrote on “Tips for Becoming a Project Manager”: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/tips-becoming-project-manager-erika/edit
I noticed you have earned several certifications. What type of value has these certifications provided to you in your career?
I have learned a tremendous amount about industry “best practices” (ITIL, PMP, Scrum, etc.) and have taken away valuable tools from every class. It has made me a better consultant, instructor, and leader. Certification, in general, shows your commitment to the Project Management profession and equips you with innovative techniques and ideas for managing projects.