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Bruce Fieggen:  Project Management As A Career Path

After graduating from college I took the first job I could land in the sciences and ended up being an engineer doing new product development in the Medical Device field. After about two years of product development, I was dubbed ‘Project Manager’ by management and given a team to manage. The only difference that this made in my life was that I was suddenly responsible for their work as well as my own and had to put out status reports showing project progress. If I wanted to look good, I had to do other people’s work as well since I was responsible for the whole project.

When this company failed after my seven years there, I got another job, this time as a Quality Engineer for another Medical Device firm. Here, thankfully, I wasn’t in charge of any projects but I was in charge of any project tasks that had the word quality involved. A little networking got me my third job as a project manager in a third Medical Device firm. On my second week at work I was asked if I wanted to attend a Project Management course so I agreed.

This course, by Cadence Management, was a life-changing event for me. In two days I learned all the secrets behind how to break down a complex project into its constituent parts and how to get people who don’t report to me to commit to task deadlines and quality. I have used the techniques since on over 200 projects with great success.

My fourth job, with a fourth Medical Device firm was as senior project manager. I tried unsuccessfully to bring in Cadence to teach others the skills I had learned. I left that firm a year later to become the manager of project management at a fifth Medical Device firm where I had the authority to bring in Cadence and create the Project Management Office (PMO). Now I could see many projects being planned and executed successfully. Along the way I sat in on the training courses Cadence provided multiple times until I knew the material cold. I also joined the Project Management Institute, PMI, and received my certification as a Project Management Professional, PMP.

Ten years ago I was recruited to join a consulting firm as their Director of Project Management. This consulting firm did mostly regulatory work for pharmaceutical companies but everything they did was a project. I asked Cadence if I could teach their methodology to my people in exchange for some money for their intellectual property. They went one step further and certified me in their techniques so that I could train, not only my own people, but paying customers as well. I have trained hundreds of people using this course since.

Along the way I have also trained people in Project Management courses through Boston University , Stryker and a course I developed in-house.

Anyone seriously considering a career path in project management should do the following simple steps:

  1. Join PMI at PMI.org
  2. Take a 2 or 3 day course from one of the many project management vendors that follow the PMI standards. I recommend Cadence
  3. Manage some projects
  4. Take the local chapter’s PMP cram course. Usually held over two consecutive weekends
  5. Sit for your PMP credential

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