Meet the CPS Lecture—Making Connections in Project Management
Making Connections in Project Management: What professional project management is, why companies are investing in it, and how you can grow your career.
Northeastern University in Arlington is pleased to host a Taster Lecture with the College of Professional Studies focusing on our Master of Science in Project Management.
In this class, you will have the opportunity to hear a brief overview of the discipline, why it matters, and where it is growing. You will also learn how the College of Professional Studies offers an accessible but effective degree to give students the skills they need to join this growing revolution.
After a presentation in the main room, attendees will be able to learn more about specific areas of project management in small group conversations with Northeastern faculty members in breakout rooms. Enrollment counselors and academic advisors will be available in the main room to answer questions about applying and getting started in the program.
Workshop facilitator: Shannon Alpert
Dr. Shannon Alpert spent the first 15 years of her career leading projects and teams responsible for creating learning solutions in the telecommunications and financial services industries. She also consulted with K-8 and higher education organizations on project and portfolio management while also teaching online graduate courses at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Dr. Alpert joined Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies at the end of 2014 and served for over 6 years in the Doctor of Education (EdD) program. She was the lead faculty for the Integrative Studies concentration of the EdD program, principal instructor for the Advanced Research Design course, and dissertation chair for over 30 doctoral research projects. In 2021, Dr. Alpert joined the Professional Programs domain as a principal instructor for the Bachelor of Science in Project Management. In 2022, she became Faculty Lead for Project Management programs, including the Master of Science in Project Management, Bachelor of Science in Project Management, and graduate certificate programs.
We will also have time for a Q&A, so bring any questions you have for Shannon Alpert.
Easing Supply Chain Disruptions With Informed Decision Making
Recent global shocks such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine have exposed the fragility of the global supply chain. Northeastern University-Toronto sat down with Ammar Aamer, associate teaching professor in the Master of Science in Project Management program at the College of Professional Studies, to talk about the role that digitalization can play in increasing the resiliency of the supply chain—and the exciting research that he and his students are conducting in this critical area.
The COVID-19 Outbreak in India Hit Hard in His Hometown. So He Built a Hospital There.
CPS Project Management student Jason Peter worked through the night the past few weeks to develop a COVID-19 hospital in his native Bangalore, India — an inspiration that took form from his capstone project.
The hospital, which will be called the Rapha Care Center, will open on July 1. The five-floor building will provide 130 beds and at least four ventilators. Peter’s team hopes to treat 400 patients per month.
In a First, Regional-Campus Student Wins Leadership Award
Puneet Kundu (MS ’22) has become the first student at a regional campus to receive Northeastern’s 2021 Graduate Student Award in Leadership. The award recognizes graduate students who have demonstrated significant leadership and a deep commitment to giving back to members of Northeastern’s community or surrounding neighborhoods. One of two students across the university to be recognized this way, Kundu joined Theresa Davenport, a PhD student in Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology at Northeastern’s Marine Science Center, in garnering this year’s honors.
Kundu was part of the first international student cohort at the Toronto campus, beginning his studies online in April 2020 in the project management program and arriving in person in the summer of 2020. Even before leaving his home country of India for Canada, Puneet had begun planning a Toronto chapter of the Northeastern Project Management Student Organization. Working with other students at the Toronto campus, as well as Professor Adel Zadeh, Puneet succeeded in establishing this group and mounting a series of successful student events. These included events focused on helping newly arriving students settle in Toronto and events helping project management students navigate the concentrations available to them in their program.
Kundu is an assistant director of the Toronto chapter of the Project Management Institute. He has also worked as a student ambassador for the College of Professional Studies, connecting with prospective project management students to provide a student’s perspective on the degree and the Toronto campus experience. He has also demonstrated leadership and commitment to the community in less formal capacities, including personally delivering groceries to newly arrived students in quarantine.
“Puneet’s accomplishments would be impressive under any circumstances,” Chief Executive Officer and Regional Dean of Northeastern University Toronto Aliza Lakhani said in a letter to the Northeastern community. “Given the unprecedented challenges created by the pandemic, however, they are even more noteworthy. Puneet and his fellow students have demonstrated remarkable initiative, creativity, and resilience under very difficult circumstances.”
Tackling Life and Learning with Resilience and Bravery
24-year old Master’s student Chethan Kumar BM knows about taking decisive action on a magnitude that few of his peers have experienced. Two years ago, in Chethan’s hometown of Bengaluru, a southern city dubbed the “Silicon Valley” of India, a pair of Hawk MK-132 jets practiced for a military air show. Suddenly, due to a piloting error, they collided in mid-air.
Chethan, a fourth-year aeronautical engineering student at the time, was watching the rehearsal from his window at home when the accident occurred. Living only feet from the airbase, he ran to aid the pilots and remained on the scene, assisting and reassuring them until paramedics and emergency personnel arrived. Two of the three pilots survived, and Chethan’s immediate action before ambulances attended is credited in saving their lives.
“People close to me always said that I was good at decision-making, especially in critical situations.” Some also suggested, “Why not hone that skill professionally?” This advice, coupled with his innate interest in making key decisions, led Chethan to start researching a Masters of Science in Project Management at Northeastern’s Toronto campus.
Student Spotlight: Sunny Rodrigues
How an idea that started as a way to gather a couple dozen CPS students over coffee turned into an event with over 250 attendees.
Sai (Sunny) Rodrigues came to Northeastern from India in January, 2017 to complete a Master of Science in Project Management. “I looked up Northeastern and it came up as one of the most innovative schools. For project management, you require innovation to come up with different ideas,” Sunny said when asked why he chose Northeastern. “I hate redundant work. I really felt that Northeastern was the most compatible with my own views.”
Sunny’s decision was soon validated—he found he loved both Northeastern and his studies. But he also noticed an opportunity for more student events, and was determined to help grow that community.
The College of Professional Studies, where Sunny is a student, is known for its flexibility and diversity. Students of all ages take courses online, on-ground on the Boston campus, or through Northeastern’s regional campuses—meaning the student body is spread out across the country, and beyond.
Additionally, with a large international population, many students are starting a new phase of their life in a new country. And due to limitations on international students working in the U.S., Sunny found that many of his peers had more free time between classes and coursework than they expected.
Northeastern offers myriad extracurricular events, and lectures, among other things, for students to attend. These are all open to CPS students, but Sunny felt that CPS students weren’t always aware of these events, something he wanted to help remedy. He also saw an opportunity to organize events geared towards the unique population of CPS.
Sunny decided to work toward creating more opportunities for CPS students specifically to gather on the Boston campus. He took a position on campus as a Community Ambassador for Off Campus Student Services. He went to every department on campus asking what they offered CPS students in terms of events and extracurriculars. He then began a WhatsApp group called “What’s Happening Around Where,” or WHAW. Using this platform he began sharing posters of campus events with other students.
Thanks to Sunny’s role as a Community Ambassador, he also started meeting many more students, broadening his network around Northeastern and eventually growing his WhatsApp group to over 1,800 students.
He continued his mission when he started a new position as program assistant at the Northeastern Center for Intercultural Engagement in January 2018. He believed that this role would give him the ability to help grow the community for students even further. To that end, Sunny had a meeting with Karin Firoza, director of Center for Intercultural Engagement and told her his goal of organizing more CPS community events.
He also went to a trusted professor, Mary Ludden, an assistant teaching professor in project management, who told him to follow his gut. “She told me I have a great position right now [at Center for Intercultural Engagement] and that I should turn my ideas into actions.” Ludden’s support gave him the push he needed to start making strategic moves for change. “I went back to Karin and she agreed that Center for Intercultural Engagement needed to host an event for CPS students.”
While Sunny was planning what he wanted the event to look like, he was also meeting with Kristen Lee, an associate teaching professor in behavioral science at Northeastern. Professor Lee agreed to spearhead the event now titled “Coffee and Convos” and speak about imposter syndrome, or the feeling that you are a fraud, despite evidence to the contrary. It was a topic that hit home for Sunny and one to which he felt that many of his peers could likewise relate.
Sunny created a flyer, sent it to his 1,800 contacts via WhatsApp, and placed flyers around CIE and Nightingale Hall. The turnout for the first Coffee and Convos was significantly beyond what they expected. “There were more than 280 people standing in Center for Intercultural Engagement —that was such a great moment for me,” Sunny recalled. The turnout validated that this population of students was thirsty for more opportunities to gather together and learn.
Sunny Rodrigues has spent his time at Northeastern helping to grow the CPS community around the Boston campus. Coffee and Convos turned into a series, where professors, faculty and students could get together to discuss imposter syndrome and what that means to the CPS population. The sessions became gatherings where students could make connections and become a part of the larger community.
While Sunny set out to come to the U.S. and complete his Master’s in Project Management, he has achieved far more than just a degree. He has built a network of students that has coalesced around common interests and backgrounds.
Sunny is graduating December 2018, but plans to continue to be a part of the Northeastern community as an active alumnus and hopes to return one day as a faculty member.
2016 Co-op Awards Ceremony
Excellence at Work
A Year of “Firsts” for Annual Co-op Awards; Eight Students Receive Awards
Each academic year, approximately 500 Northeastern students take part in work placements related to their field of study through the College of Professional Studies (CPS) Experiential Learning program. At the end of each year, the College honors select students at the annual Co-op Awards ceremony, based on nominations from employers.
The 2015/2016 Co-op Awards, which honored eight students, saw a series of firsts: the first award winner from the Experiential Network program; and the first recipient from the University’s Charlotte campus.
Zubi Aziz (Master of Science, Regulatory Affairs for Drugs, Biologics, and Medical Devices) received a Career Development award for her co-op at Baxalta, a start-up biopharmaceutical company. Zubi was known as the “go-to resource” in the department, according to Patricia Carolini, the head of safety analytics at Baxalta, who described Zubi as someone with exceptional integrity, character, and professionalism. They were so impressed, in fact, that Zubi has been offered a full-time position at the company.
Shuli Ciu (Master of Science, Regulatory Affairs for Drugs, Biologics, and Medical Devices) also received a Career Development award after completing two co-ops at Cerulian Pharma, Inc., first in regulatory affairs and then in clinical operations. Tiffany Crowell, vice president of clinical operations, saw Shuli “grow from an observing student to become an active participant in clinical trials, working well in cross-functional teams.”
Pamela Darcy-Demski, (Master of Science, Corporate and Organizational Communication) received the new Experiential Network Award, designed to recognize students involved in short-term projects offered through a corporate sponsor. Pamela conducted a feasibility analysis on Massachusetts State Police Academy’s use of technology in training cadets, helping it transition to a more user-friendly cloud technology. Melinda Lovick, the e-learning coordinator for the academy, spoke of Pamela’s capacity to “exercise professionalism and poise and routinely go above and beyond.”
Jennifer Krajewski (Master of Science, Regulatory Affairs for Drugs, Biologics, and Medical Devices) was awarded the Integrative Experiential Learning Award for students who participate in a co-op in their own place of employment. In Jennifer’s case, this was TreeHouse Foods, where she led a cross-departmental initiative to update labels based on the release of the State of Vermont’s Genetically Modified Food Labeling Regulation—all outside of her normal duties at the company. Her new role increased her contact with staff from other departments. “This program set me up for some of the best learning experiences I have had at Northeastern so far,” said Jennifer in her acceptance speech.
Kyle Moore (Master of Arts, Homeland Security) was one of two recipients of a Leadership Award for his work with the National Guard Homeland Security Institute. Captain Christopher Johnson, deputy director of the Institute, praised Kyle’s hard work on a small team of four staff members leading national and state-level initiatives. “People are better protected and better able to respond to disasters than they were before, thanks to work that Kyle did,” said Captain Johnson.
Nicole Wilde Merl, (Master of Science, Corporate and Organizational Communication), a student at Northeastern’s Charlotte campus, was awarded the Student Scholar Award for initiating a virtual co-op with Washington, D.C.-based public relations agency, Thomas Cooke and Associates. Nicole described her internship as a “true two-way internship” with faculty and Thomas Cooke equally invested in the project, which created a social platform to empower women to vote in 2016 and beyond through a project called WomenVotes.org.
Chirag Rathod (Master of Science, Project Management) was a recipient of the Leadership Award. Joe Flynn, Northeastern alumnus and director of inside sales for Akamai Technologies, credited Chirag for helping his company secure a $1 million deal, its biggest that year, and praised Chirag for leading by example, seeing the big picture, and coming up with creative solutions to challenges. “I never felt like an intern,” Chirag said in his acceptance speech. “I was always encouraged to participate in every team meeting and was given an opportunity to innovate and challenge the traditional way of working without having that fear of failure.” Chirag has since been offered the opportunity to stay on with the team full-time.
Qi Qin (Master of Science, Global Studies and International Relations) was awarded the Student Scholar Award for her work with Quincy Asian Resources. As an outreach specialist, Qi hired, trained, and supervised a team of eight bilingual undergraduate students and volunteers, and, in the words of Executive Director John Brothers, “the department‘s performance improved remarkably under her leadership.” She has now transitioned into the role on a permanent basis.
5 Ways Ethics Can Clear Your Organization’s Conscience
By Joseph Griffin.
Joseph A. Griffin, PMP® is a faculty member in Northeastern University’s Master of Science in Project Management program. He is an active member of the international chapter of the Project Management Institute, and serves as the VP of Professional Development for the PMI-Metrolina chapter in Charlotte, NC.
Recently, I surveyed 485 professional project managers—a sizable group. A whopping 43 percent reported that they had faced an ethically challenging situation at work on a monthly basis.
Meanwhile, 57 percent reported that they were ethically challenged a few times per year. These managers felt pressured to make a decision that violated their ethical values or the values of their company, whether it was fudging numbers to appease a client or bypassing hardworking Bob, the project assistant, for a promotion due to office politics. (We’ve all been there, right?)
In theory, these statistics should be surprising. The Project Management Institute puts forth a standard code of ethics that demands responsibility, respect, fairness and honesty.
Still, despite a well defined code of conduct, many companies, including providers of higher education, have a hard time implementing these ethics. And it’s usually your employees who feel the stress.
To bridge the gap, here are five steps that can give you (and your business) a clear conscience.
1. Identify your ideal values.
Let people tell you what they really think! I recommend offering employees a survey wherein they list the top three things they value most at their organization. What do they believe in? Why? Chances are their answers will fall into one of the four categories in the code of ethics above.
2. Identify your realistic values.
Now it’s time to contextualize the PMI code of ethics to suit your unique environment, taking that survey into account. Write out a mission statement, tweaking the PMI code to fit your organization’s culture. If you work in a very large company, perhaps “honesty” becomes “transparency.” In a meeting-based culture, maybe “fairness” is “open communication.”
3. Create opportunities for people to execute values without repercussions.
Your ideals are only as good as your actions. So empower people to make decisions that carry forth your goals.
One of the most common work scenarios is people tweaking numbers when reporting to a client. If one of your values is transparency, set a precedent: Be upfront with a client, even if your project is behind schedule or off budget. Your client might be ruffled in the short term, but ultimately, they’ll appreciate that you value honesty.
Meanwhile, you’ve set an example: You’re willing to make tough but ethical decisions, and so can they.
4. Recognize the many versions of success and failure.
Sure, Janet in marketing might be great; she just closed a deal and netted the company millions. But also recognize Sue, who went the extra mile for a customer, even if it did nothing for the immediate bottom line.
As for failure, I’m often reminded of one of my favorite bosses. He had a plaque on his desk that read “Mistakes Welcome Here.” Weird, right? Smart! He was open to bad news; his direct reports knew that they could share struggles, learn, and move forward. Let’s be honest: Everyone will make mistakes. Better to know about them.
5. Mentor new employees.
Foster an ethical environment by on-boarding people properly. Be transparent. Host workshops. Offer case studies and explain how thorny situations were handled. Take every opportunity to show new hires how employees are working ethically, through their interactions and their decision-making.
Ultimately, ethics is a team sport. Your goal is to build a community that unites behind shared, valued norms that transcend everyday stresses.
5 Secrets of Effective Time Managers
Time management can be one of the biggest factors in determining your success, whether you’re considering a big commitment like going back to school, or trying to stay on top of your responsibilities at work or at home.
What are some of the secrets of the people who seem to get everything done — and more? Remember that while no one’s perfect all the time, there are definitely some skills you can learn to help prepare you for better time management success.
For people who are attempting to juggle work, home life and school all at the same time, it’s really important to make sure you understand the demands of all three, and learn how to prioritize them on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Maintaining “To Do” lists can be extremely helpful, as well as communicating with those who may be impacted by your busy schedule. Your family, coworkers and classmates can be great resources for support and understanding – don’t hesitate to reach out.
2. Plan in Advance
Chances are, you know a few weeks or months in advance when your schedule is going to go completely crazy. Maybe you’re enrolled in classes and you know finals week will be tough. Maybe you have to travel for work and you won’t be able to meet your other deadlines. Whatever the case is, take stock of the ebbs and flows in your schedule and take advantage of the lulls to prepare for the busiest times. Remember – failing to plan is planning to fail!
3. Develop a Set Schedule
If you know you work better in the morning, reserve that time to do your work. If you know you prefer to work out in the evenings, make sure you know that’s what time you have to get to the gym. Find the times in the day where you are the most productive and capitalize on that while you can. With time to focus on just one task, you’ll go further than attempting to bounce around randomly.
When it’s time to get things done, eliminate your distractions, whether it’s Facebook, the dishes piling up in the sink, or the children fighting down the hall. Get yourself someplace where you can focus completely on the task at and and stick with it until you’re done. Too many times we try to multitask, when in reality, you’ll get more done by focusing on one thing at a time.
5. Give Yourself a Break
When you’re a highly motivated person, you feel like you can accomplish anything you put your mind to. And that may be the case, but remember that everyone has their own limits, whether it’s time or patience. But burnout is very real, and can actually cause you to suffer in performance if you push too hard and for too long. Like with everything else, make sure you set aside some time to relax, see your friends and family, and take your mind off of your to-do list. When you return to it, you’ll feel refreshed and invigorated and ready for the next challenge.
Project Management Conference Focuses on Sustainability
As we train people today to become tomorrow’s organizational leaders and project managers, we need to ensure they unmistakably understand that social responsibility and profit are not mutually exclusive and that protecting the long-term interests of stakeholders in their decision-making process is a fiduciary duty well fulfilled.
With that in mind, the Master of Science in Project Management program will hold its first Project Management Conference in Boston on April 29, “Managing Projects for Sustainability” in collaboration with the Project Management Institute (PMI) Mass Bay Chapter. The conference will focus on the future of the field of project management, where project success is defined as more than simply achieving the project objectives of scope performance, schedule, and budget, but rather taking into consideration the connection between projects and the future of an organization, as well as a broader set of societal objectives. Open to current students, alumni, academics, industry experts, and the project management community at large, the sold-out conference is an opportunity for Northeastern University to engage its community in new ways of thinking about both business and project management processes.
Sriram Rajagopalam, vice president and PMO within Optus Health, will give the keynote address titled, “TONES: Framework for transforming Project Management.” Speakers at the conference will also address topics such as: “Leveraging technology to ensure healthcare sustainability” and “Agile project management as a strategic tool.”
Why Sustainable Project Management Matters
Sustainable project management is about ensuring organizational strategies are linked to operations in a way that protects stakeholders’ long-term interests. Focusing only on short-term goals has proven to be a self-destructive strategy. As a project management framework, sustainable project management is an integrated approach that seeks to meet stakeholders’ existing needs – including business and project requirements – and, at the same time, addresses the need for effectiveness and efficiency in the future. It encompasses economic, social, environmental, short- and long-term business objectives. A very important aspect of sustainable project management is that it considers both the project and the product life cycle in the planning phase of the project.
Sustainability principles are applicable in all industry sectors and can be integrated with leadership, technical project management, and strategic management topics. Sustainable project management is the only way to remove the word “sustainability” from the abstract and connect it to the bottom line; that is, business value and long-term organizational success.
This conference is the start of the conversation within the College of Professional Studies and within our project management community.
Jacques Alexis is an assistant teaching professor in the Master of Science in Project Management program.