JOB TITLE: Director of Project Management Office
YEARS AT WEBDEVSTUDIOS: 7
Way back in 2013, I was looking for a new opportunity. I had been in project management and account management for about six years in various industries, like pharmaceuticals, advertising, etc., but was hoping to venture out into the technology space. A good friend of mine at the time had recommended WebDevStudios (WDS) to me after spotting a job posting on Facebook by a current employee. After a bit of research into the company, I was really interested in the open position for Project Manager.
Once I was hired as the first official Project Manager for WDS, I was excited to find out that I could help shape the position and create standard operating processes. Over the years, as the company grew in employee, project, and client size, so did the position, processes, and department.
After a few years, I was promoted to Account Manager, where I had the opportunity to work with clients on building relationships and growing the accounts. Then in 2017, I was asked to oversee and run the Project Management department. As Director, managing a team of six project managers and strategists, I’m grateful to have the opportunity to mentor, lead, and challenge my team. Here are a few of the daily tasks I do to help support my team.
Coordination of Resources
With a WDS team of 40+ and roughly 20+ projects running at any given time in various phases, it’s my responsibility to ensure our schedule stays updated at all times. Initially when a project comes in, I will forecast out the dedicated project team of engineers based on skillset and availability. Then during the active project, I coordinate with the designated project manager to ensure daily updates and changes to the overall schedule are made. Additionally, when an engineer has downtime, I will typically coordinate with the Engineering Manager or the Director to schedule an internal project/product work. It’s important that the schedule stays updated to inform anyone in the company what our availability looks like as new projects come in.
Direct Strategic Planning of Projects
As I oversee projects from initiation to completion, it’s important that I am involved in directing the strategic planning of projects. This will initially take place during our strategy phase of the project, but can absolutely continue throughout development, QA, and through to launch. Strategic planning can involve various decisions, such as investment of the strategy phase, timing to start the project, number of resources to assign to the project, how the project will be managed, QA strategy, etc.
As each project is different in size and type, each requires various levels of planning and management. The Digital Strategist and Project Manager both have control during their particular phase of work, and can make adjustments as needed, but as I oversee all projects, sometimes decisions need to be made based on other projects, resources, or timing, and that is where I come in.
Support, Mentor, and Challenge
A big part of my job here is to support, mentor and challenge my team of project managers and strategists. I provide daily support across all active projects and accounts. If a challenge or risk comes up on a project, it’s important for my team to know they can always count on me to be there to either listen or direct the situation. I always encourage my team to come to me with a problem, and their take on the best solution. Sometimes we roll with their solution, and other times we collaborate to come up with the best solution to resolve the challenge or risk.
Mentoring is also really important to me. I have monthly one-on-ones with each individual team member within PMO. This helps me to establish and maintain a connection to each individual so that he or she feels comfortable coming to me with any questions, concerns or issues. During these meetings we discuss their strengths and areas of improvement so that they can continuously grow throughout the year.
I challenge each team member throughout the year by setting annual goals that are specific to each individual. We track these goals throughout the year. I have also set up LinkedIn Learning courses for each individual for continued growth. We even did a few leadership book reads over the past few years. One of my favorite book reads was Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility by Patty McCord.
At the end of the work day…
When it’s the end of the work day (and that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s 5:00 p.m. because we’re 100% remote and everyone has adjusted working hours based on availability and timezone), one of my favorite things that I introduced to the department is “Wrap It Up.” Here’s what you do: at the end of your workday, specifically the last 15-30 minutes, wrap up your workday.
Here’s what this entails for me:
- Review my to-do list and all the things I completed that day. Yay!
- Start a to-do list for tomorrow. At the top, include anything I didn’t complete, in order of priority.
- Check email one more time.
- Check my calendar for tomorrow morning.
- End my workday on time, and say goodnight to everyone in Slack.
With a 6- and 8-year-old in school, I head out right after work to pick both kiddos up from school. When we get home, I typically make each of them a small snack. Depending on the day, we’re either running out the door again to sports practice or they get some after-school play time in while I get some relaxation in before dinner.
I make dinner, clean up, and then help with any homework either of them might have. After that is the bath, reading, and bedtime routine, which can sometimes go smoothly, and other days can be a real struggle. Once both kids are in bed, I usually watch one to two episodes of whatever show I’m currently obsessed with before I fall asleep.
To Sum It Up
I truly love being a part of the crew here at WebDevStudios. It has been an amazing seven years, and I’m so thankful that I applied back in 2013. I have learned so much from my peers about the tech industry, WordPress, and our community. I continue to be mentored, supported and coached by Brad Williams and Lisa Sabin-Wilson every day. I’m excited for what the next decade has in store for us here at WDS!