Cheryl Hennessy Celebrating Women in Project Management

Cheryl Hennessy Celebrating Women in Project Management

Cheryl Hennessy


Location: Scottsdale, AZ, USA

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With over fifteen years of Project Management experience across industry verticals, Cheryl is an asset to every organization she partners with.

By combining collaboration skills with standard project methodologies, Cheryl has built high performance teams in fast paced environments, recovered project profitability and been actively involved in every project phase from pre sales to development and execution to change management and post go live support.

Starting her career at an Aluminum Smelter in Australia, Cheryl has also worked in Hong Kong and the USA and Canada. She’s currently unpacking moving boxes in Arizona!

What I enjoy most about being a project manager is:

Learning and solving problems.
It helps to get a buzz from learning and to be naturally curious!

Here are some things I’ve been grateful to learn:

• How the fundamentals of a successful business are so similar across different industry verticals – mining, manufacturing, healthcare, media, finance, transportation, oil and gas
• How a positive risk becomes a negative risk with insufficient communication
• How the first time driving a forklift feels like you’ve lost control
• How plan is not a ‘four letter word’
• How change is always and will always be difficult – the degree of difficulty is what varies between people and situations
• How a strong team can work together to perform miracles – just don’t expect it in every project
• How a growth mindset is critical for personal and professional success.

The three most important skills I use to successfully deliver projects are:

I strongly believe soft skills make or break our projects.

It’s easier to learn and apply technical skills than to interact with many different personalities and learn what makes them and breaks them.

If our team is strong, supportive and coherent we can achieve amazing results while growing as individuals.

The three most important soft skills are compassion, leadership and integrity.

Compassion is understanding an adverse reaction is more about what the other person is experiencing or has experienced previously than what’s currently going on. It is not being a softy, a walk over and giving in.

An example of compassion is understanding the team and individuals may be better off by changing the team structure. This is a difficult conversation for the remaining team who need to adjust, the new team members and those moving on.

To learn more about compassion vs empathy here.

Leadership is frequently equated with managing – but it’s way more. Leadership is leading by example, inspiring your team and not looking around at everyone else in the room when a tough decision needs to be made. It is making a decision that is the best decision based on the information available. Leadership is also protecting your team and them knowing you will support them when challenged.

Integrity is being consistent and doing what you say you’ll do when you say you’ll do it. It’s the only thing you have in life and without it, I say pack up and go home. When deadlines are tight, customers are demanding, stakeholders are unpredictable and a short cut looks attractive, NEVER compromise your integrity.

I build and nurture my professional network by:

(a) Dividing my time and effort between three avenues – in person events, online and local sporting events
(b) Focusing on quality of the connection vs the number of connections.

I find in person events to be the most rewarding and love meeting new people. However they occur at a set time and a set location that isn’t always a convenient match. By choosing to be consistent with the same in person events, you get to know familiar faces and can decide if that network is for you.

Online networking helps with time travel and provides access to a different group of people. Following people from different countries, from a webinar or with an interesting background provides more learning and challenging of the status quo. I make sure to personalize my initial communications letting the recipient know how I ‘met’ them and why I’d like to connect.

Participating in sporting events is a less orthodox approach to networking, but it works! Being outside and moving my body is a great counter balance to the challenges of being a Project or Program Manager.
It was a natural choice for me to join cycling teams and races – I’ve been riding bikes ever since I could touch the pedals

At the start of my career, the one thing I wish I had known is:

If the project objectives cannot be linked to strategic objectives of the organization, watch out!

• Who approved the project? Are they still at the Company?
• How does project fit into program and portfolio of the Company?
• Who are the stakeholders?
• Who approved the budget? Is there a budget?
• What will prevent the project from being canceled?
• What amount of effort are team members committed to?
• Has project been canceled in the past?

Women who have inspired me so far in my career journey are:

Every mother – starting with my Mum! Every waking hour is a balancing act between family needs, job needs and her own personal needs. And don’t forget what society says she should be doing 😉 While there is greater gender equality at home today, most Mums still take care of the lion’s share of work and inspire me to always find a way to find a solution.

The most valuable advice I have ever been given is:

No one can you make inferior without your consent –Eleanor Roosevelt

Comparing ourselves to someone else – male or female – never improves the situation or our perception of the situation. While we are distracted by feelings of inadequacy, the creative thought process is interrupted and our failure to deliver becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

A easier way to remember this courtesy of Oscar Wilde – ‘Be yourself, everyone else is taken’!

My advice for women on finding success as a project manager is:

Embrace a growth mindset. This will serve you well in both life and in project management. Become comfortable with being uncomfortable and challenge yourself to try new experiences and new perspectives. Start gradually and build your confidence but also make sure you have ‘someone in your corner’ when you need a sounding board, encouragement and to celebrate!


Hello amazing women of the project management world!

My observation after two decades of working in the project management industry is that our voices as women are simply not heard enough online in articles, podcasts, and across social media channels. Let’s change that!

  1. If you’re a woman working in project management, I want to hear from you! Submit your profile today to make sure to be included in this years event which has already begun.
  2. Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn to be inspired by daily posts as we celebrate all of these wonderful women in project management! Feel motivated by their stories, achievements and perspectives.
  3. Tell us how you feel and support other women by including #CelebratingWomenInProjectManagement in your social media posts.
  4. Join our FREE exclusive Celebrating Women in Project Management Facebook group – a new space for women in project management to come together and discuss ideas, give advice, provide support, and network with women from all over the globe.



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