Nov. 30, 2018

Project Management Fundamentals Workshop 2018

Article by Sinead O'Ferrall (PhD student, Gilleard lab, University of Calgary)

Recently I and other graduate students had the opportunity to spend two days in a ‘Project Management Fundamentals’ course run by ‘Tarka Consulting Inc.’. The instructor Emil Tarka was a certified project management professional (PMP). The Project Management Institute ( the organisation who handles the PMP and other project management qualifications are an internationally recognised organisation which is a leader and expert in all aspects of project management. So, we were learning from the best.

I’ll be honest, I was slightly coerced/guilted into signing up. I had an exam in the morning of the second day and as every other grad student, I was swamped with other work as well. It just didn’t seem worth the time.

But I am glad to say I was wrong. Aside from having a few laughs in the very relaxed and fun environment, we were exposed to some very useful concepts and ideas. The course structure was very hands on and each time we learnt a new step in project management, we had to go apply to it to a project we had conceived at the start of the course.

The workshop covered topics such as the various stages of a project, how to identify and utilize stakeholders, how to and why we should create project charters and project management plans and how to create a work breakdown structure.This made it more engaging and ensured we learnt something. While some of the material was perhaps a bit misplaced since as grad students we don’t always have the same level of authority or control over our projects. It is still insightful to see how these decisions are made, or at least how decisions should be made and there was a plenty of material that we can and will apply to our current positions. For me, the work breakdown structure tools we gained for planning timelines, start and end dates and realistically allowing enough time for each task was the most useful.

I have to say, the course benefited greatly from the course instructor, Emil. He was extremely engaging, interactive and focused while still managing to be fun and relaxed. He set the tone that allowed for ideal learning environment.This course is linked to PMI standard which is something we can build on and gain further certificates and qualifications which will enrich both our grad experience and life beyond grad school.

Also, there was free food – always a good trap for starving academic students. So, all in all a surprisingly beneficial way to spend two days. I would like to thank HPI and specifically Teresa for organizing this opportunity and Emil for coming in and spending time with some hyped up, stressed out grad students.