I have found in my life that the universe or possibly even my wife has a way of pushing you in the direction that you should go. As a kid my parents strongly encouraged me to develop my entrepreneurial skills — they encouraged me to start businesses and keep accurate records along the way. They are both CPA’s, so yes, I even learned a little double entry accounting as a kid.
I had to help pay my way through college, so that meant I had to balance getting my education with work. As I worked a series of college jobs, I knew they weren’t for me. I finally went to work for a man who would become a friend and a mentor — Dave Fairbanks — at what at the time was the Covey Leadership Center. It was a sales job and I made some great money working part-time there while continuing to attend school full-time. Then opportunity came knocking.
At the time I was in the PR program at my school but I knew I had two more years to go. Ken Shelton at Executive Excellence Publishing helped the Covey Leadership Center and other business and personal development authors with their publishing. Ken gave me the opportunity to come over and help with the publicity and the roll-out of the books he was publishing. Together with Trent Price, I worked hard to manage the process of gaining positive publicity and reviews of our catalog. That meant I traveled quite a bit for the company while continuing to go to school full-time. My Mom jokes to this day that she would call me to ask about how school was and she would always start the conversation with “where are you this week?” It was true. I did gain a high level of experience in planning and implementing the projects assigned to me.
After I graduated, I worked two jobs focused on marketing and PR. At the second, at Phone Directories Company, I was the first Director of Marketing employed by the company. This was a $150 M company, but they had always left the decisions related to advertising and brand management to their local and regional managers. As you can imagine, this produced a huge variety of logos, ads, strategies, and processes. I was tasked with unifying the brand, assisting the local and regional managers with the sales and publicity roll-outs, and event planning. I worked as part of the executive management team to formulate and implement the strategic vision of the company. Many of my print and broadcast ads won awards from the YPPA. I saved the company real money because I got involved at the local level in negotiating contracts with the companies we advertised with. I standardized the processes used by my department to save the local and regional managers time in formulating a marketing plan for each of their market areas — time they used to focus on the management of their sales team.
After a couple of years at this job, I left to start my own business with my buddy Bruce Sorensen. In 2000 we started a company that was focused on filling a niche of assisting school districts and community based organizations with the submission of grants to the Federal government. We were immediately successful in getting funding for our clients, but where they really needed assistance was in the implementation and evaluation of their approved programs.
Since then, we have specialized in providing guidance and leadership to these groups in implementing system-wide improvements. We have helped our project directors within the organization with creating a project scope, budget, evaluation plan, identifying and recruiting stakeholders, and gaining approval from required administrators. In developing a project management plan, we have created a work breakdown structure (WBS), defined and sequenced related activities, developed the implementation schedule, identified risks and created a risk management plan, and conducted process and product evaluations.
As part of the implementation of the project management plan, we have helped project directors through training their staff in project requirements, monitored the progress of the project in meeting the defined goals and objectives, and determined when the project met the intended outcomes. In 13 years, I have written thousands of pages of reports that were submitted to the Federal government and to district and community leadership. It is a source of great pride that every organization I have worked with has completed their projects on time and within budget. With over $100 M awarded to my clients, this has been no easy task.
This is the role I am in right now. I love my job and the people I get to work with. I have worked with some of the largest and smallest school districts and CBO’s in the country and without exception, my experience has been a positive one. Through trial and error I have acquired a skill set that can be applied in any industry — the skills of project management are universal. I think this is one of the most challenging and rewarding industries in our day and time and I find the new challenges that I am presented with keep me engaged and enthusiastic about what I do.