– By Dr. Emad Rahim, PMP, SCM, OMCP
Dr. Matthew D. Gonzalez, PMP, CEH, is Chief EntHead of Enthead.com, an organization focused on helping Entrepreneurs, in their 2nd/3rd year of operation, and beyond, through a 5-day a week Podcast. He is a serial Entrepreneur where he founded and successfully sold multiple entrepreneurial endeavors to include GSI Event Production (2007), and Events Education (2008). Prior to his entrepreneurial endeavors, Dr. Gonzalez worked as an IT Developer, Systems Analyst, IT Architect, and IT Project Manager for USAA, a global financial services provider. His lessons learned and successes at USAA in managing $10+ million dollar projects and programs provided him with the necessary experiences to pursue his doctorate.
Dr. Gonzalez also serves as the Cyber Program Director for the University of Charleston West Virginia. He specializes, teaches, and conducts research in information technology, leadership, project management, and entrepreneurialism for such universities as Harvard, Temple. Brandeis, and Northeastern. Dr. Gonzalez earned his BBA in Information Systems from the University of Texas at San Antonio (’95), MBA from St. Mary’s University (’99), Ph.D. in Organization and Management from Capella University (‘08), and MIS from Keller Graduate School (‘10). Dr. Gonzalez stays active in his community where he serves his Church as an ACTS team member.
How did you get started in project management?
The organization I worked for had a project management process development program. I decided to enroll in the courses, which aligned with the PMP, on the premise that I decide to go this route as a career. Once I earned the PMP, my management realized it was time for me to post to PM types of positions and build my leadership skills from there.
What type of industries have you worked for and in what capacity?
There were three: 1) Technology where I served as an IT PM, 2) Event Management where I ran an Events company, and 3) Construction…this one is more informal as I’ve applied the PM skills to building a house, adding on to houses, and general remodeling.
What was the most interesting project you managed and what made it so unquiet?
My first large project was an email project where I was mentored as an IT PM for about 6 weeks, then the mentor rolled off and I became the PM. The scope was to build an internal email system so that customers could interact with the organization in a more secure environment than was available via commercial software. It was slated to run 9 months at $1.5M. It quickly blew into 18 months and over $3M due to the amount of integration required with the email system. There were three other PMs on the project (a business manager, a business project manager, and a design manager). Before we ever got into the development phase where IT would lead the effort, one PM was reassigned, and the other two were fired because of the amount of scope creep. Talk about stress!
Why do you think so many organizations value project management skills?
Once can organization decides upon a strategy, it is turned over to the PPM, PMO, and PMs. They’re responsible for actually executing the strategy to ensure goals are met. Thus, these skills help to measure an organization’s strategy in a project methodology chosen by the organization.
What type of tools and techniques were commonly used in those projects you were a part of?
Usually they were a mixture of large scale enterprise level PM software, desktop software, RAMs, Communication Matrices, Issues Log, Risk Logs, and of course the project methodology chosen by the organization. It was usually a traditional type of methodology chosen to manage the projects.
How did you go from being a project manager to becoming an entrepreneur?
Back to the first question, I actually chose to take the PM courses because I knew long term I wanted to run my own organization, and I knew those would help me with the management and leadership skills. I started my events based organization while working full time. Into the third year of the business, I decided to quit the full time job and fulfill my destiny as an entrepreneur for life. I suppose it’s in my blood (born vs. made argument here).
You mentioned some overlapping between entrepreneurship and project management, can you please elaborate?
Without a doubt, both the management and leadership skills are where the overlap comes in. Specifically, in the planning process to start and operate the business for sustainability. While projects are supposed to end, the business itself should be designed for longer term growth until it’s time to exit. I would simply take my quarterly business plans, and turn them into meaning agile projects to ensure I met my goals for the business. Major overlap and thank goodness I learned these skills as a PM!
How can project managers learn to develop entrepreneurship skills to better support their projects and clients?
I’ve been reading more and more articles that companies don’t actually like to hire entrepreneurs, which I think is ridiculous. But, the employees can learn intrapreneur skills (much like an entrepreneur) where they can embark on training regarding innovation, R&D, pricing products, process improvement, sales, and many other skills that an intra/entrepreneur would do that are less traditional types of training. Most people who are PMs aren’t actually the ‘sales’ person, however you’d be surprised how those skills overlap when it comes time to sell a status report as a PM.
What advice would you give someone interested in becoming a project manager?
Be ready for the leadership position as most project management training doesn’t teach you leadership skills. Thus, invest in some leadership skills and mentoring on how to be a leader.
What is your lessons learned for project managers inspiring to become an entrepreneur?
1. Use your skills as a PM to develop a strategy for your business
2. Build quarterly business plans as you get going, you need quick wins
3. Use varying methods of project methodologies (e.g. agile, traditional, etc.) based on your efforts rather than picking just one methodology
4. Find web based project software that is cloud based and you can share tasks/risks with your contractors