CELEBRATING WOMEN IN PROJECT MANAGEMENT 2020 SERIES
Location: Phoenixville, PA, USA
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Patti Harter was the first Project Manager hired by the Project Management Institute (PMI) and brought successful project delivery tactics from experience at former employers. As the Manager of Project Management (PMI’s first PMO), she had project managers and business analysts as direct reports for 8 years and authored the internal project methodology and training at PMI. She also managed other departments to correct inefficiencies and realign with organizational objectives. She reduced cycle time of exam updates from 3 years to 6 months while adding 8 language translations to PMI’s standards and credentials. In previously held positions, Patti managed infrastructure and software development projects. She held project lead and application development positions for a software company while leading product teams. Overall, Patti has over 30 years experience in several industries including insurance, manufacturing, software, and association management.
The high-profile projects and programs she managed at PMI are:
- Development and Release of OPM standard for maturity
- PMBOK Guide updates, translations and ancillary products
- Development of the Program Management Professional Credential (PgMP)
- Authored and trained PMI’s internal project management methodology
Honors and Awards
Two time recipient of PMI Key Contribution Award for excellent performance throughout the year given by the CEO and COO together. Recipient of Spotlight Award for above and beyond performance. Served on Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) Advisory Board for Operations and Project Management Masters Program.
Patti has been a presenter at the R.E.P. forum in Montreal, Canada. She was a speaker at the PMI NJ and Greater New Orleans (GNO) Chapter Symposiums as well as being an encore presenter at PMI Global Congress.
Patti’s education includes a B.S. in Operations Management from the University of Tennessee, and numerous certifications including the Project Management Professional (PMP) credential, ITIL Foundation, Lean Six Sigma and Certified Change Practitioner.
What is your project management super power?
I don’t believe it’s a super power, but I excel at rallying teams to devise and execute a plan to achieve the strategic objectives that as individuals, they don’t know how to achieve. Since perspectives are founded on experiences, having teams brainstorm and describe their vision of the desired result presents glimpses into what they know can be done. Most importantly, don’t keep it in the room and don’t try to control their idea-generating process. The team’s network of customers and co-workers is rich with ideas. Assign a task to every member of the team to gather ideas from their sources – their own way.
I’ve seen this work time and again to come up with out-of-the-box solutions that exceed expectations.
How can gender diversity be improved in the project management profession?
Shift the paradigm. We got to be project managers because we are leaders. We are blessed with the ability to stand up, speak up and take charge. Yet somehow, we talk about being victims of gender discrimination. This reaction doesn’t serve us well. We need to use our leadership abilities to stop being a victim and lead each discriminatory moment to an acceptable outcome for everyone involved. If you’re female, you can’t avoid or transfer the risk of discrimination. But you don’t have to accept it. You know how to mitigate it – every time.
As the profession evolves, what skills do you think will be key for future success?
The old water cooler days have become IM days. Team members are dispersed and distracted. They are able to choose their level of involvement. Facts and opinions are shared freely. In my opinion, project managers need to both embrace and mitigate the risk that before a sentence is completed, it’s been commented about. Where building a relationship was key in the past, respecting individuality and independence is key today. Perhaps crowd-sourcing will be key for tomorrow.
How do you recover from difficult situations?
I can’t say that I always recover. I hope I’m not the only one who has scars. But one thing I’ve learned is that when people are being difficult they have a reason. Take the time to figure out why (they may even tell you) and look for an opportunity to proactively help them get what they need. That turns something difficult into something you can feel good about.
What are your tips and techniques for conflict resolution?
Think of the positive reasons for the conflict – each side’s good intentions. What threats to those intentions are present that can be alleviated? If there is a strong sense of competition, remember that it’s not about the prize, it’s about winning. There are 2 options to consider: (1) win-win: split the prize for each to get portions valuable to them or (2) join the competitors to a single team. If someone is competing with you to the detriment of the project, find a way to graciously concede. Remember the win is yours to give unless you participate in the competition – so don’t.
Which 3 words best describe why you enjoy being a project manager?
Hello amazing women of the project management world! My Celebrating Women in Project Management Series highlights your stories to inspire others, raise the profile of women in the project management profession, and to further strengthen our global network.
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