From the monthly archives:

April 2011

Last  Thursday we had final group presentations in class for the Introduction to Project Management course. This presentation was a part of the final assignment: research and analysis of the management of an actual project. The other part of an assignment was to prepare a 20-25 pages analytical research of that same actual project.

As you might imagine, to find actual hard facts information on any project, past or present, is not a very easy task. Therefore our professor had a very elegant solution to this: peruse the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) website which comprises lots and lots of GAO reports and testimonies on various aspects of the federal government agencies, programs and projects. You can try to supplement those reports with other references and sources, if possible, but generally the reports give you substantial load of material that can be used for research. If you have this kind of an assignment with free topic in your MBA class or any other university class related to public sector affairs – I definitely recommend GAO reports as starting point for relatively easy available and materially substantial source of information.

There were total of five groups presenting their cases. Not everyone used the GAO reports as the basis for their research. At least a couple of groups seemed to have analyzed projects they have run into in the course of their regular day job. It made it all more interesting.

Our group chose to analyze the project management of the construction of the new Convention Center in the District of Columbia in 1996-2003. The project was under the auspices of the special organization created by DC government specifically for construction and operation of the Convention Center – Washington Convention Center Authority (WCCA). GAO had at least 13 various reports and other artefacts in relation to this project, which in itself is a testimony that the project was not without its more than fair share of issues, especially in the initial phases of the project before the proper construction even began. In addition to those reports we found a few articles in the media about the project at the time of construction. Also, a few members of our group were able to go to a live meeting to interview the Director of Communications of WCCA during the construction project.

All in all the project was quite interesting and representative, with all the attributes of a typical modern day project: schedule delays, cost overruns, scope changes in the middle of the road, communications glitches, tough negotiations, etc.

One of the observations about the presentations proper again has to do with the difference in mentality between the Project Management and MBA student to which I alluded in my earlier post. The presentations of the PM students groups were somewhat more focused on all minute technical details of the projects, while one of the groups, which consisted of only MBA students, and my group were more on high level overview and accent on “presentability” rather than technicalities of the analysis.

One more little detail. This final presentation for Project Management class was during the school break for my kids. My yonger daughter asked me about a week before the class if she could attend one of my MBA classes with me during her spring break. I mentioned before in my posts that my younger daughter is rather involved with my MBA studies. She often shows signs of pride that her dad is an MBA student. She also plans to go to MBA like her dad :-). We often talk with her on some topics I learn in my classes. She was also inspiration for one of my assignments and actual participant in  another assignment in my Entrepreneurship class. So, naturally, I was glad to support her interest and bring her to one of my classes. I asked professor’s permission to bring my daughter to class and, thankfully, he was very open to this idea. So I brought her with me to the presentation. She was able to sit through the whole class and listen to all those presentations. Quite impressive! Sometimes, even I lose focus during those protracted evening classes in my part-time MBA program ;-).


My posts for the nearest future will be recollections from the end of the Fall term and the Spring term in somewhat random order, as I will try to fill some of the gaps since the end of my regular blogging at the end of last year. I will try to reflect on some more interesting highlights in my part-time MBA studies. So take it as it comes.

This Spring term I took the second elective in my course of studies at part-time MBA program at GWU School of Business. The first elective I took was Consultative Processes last Fall. I had a few posts on that class and I will have some more, specifically a few of the business cases analyses that I did in that course individually and as a part of group assignments. You can find  my past posts on that class by serching for “Consultative Processes” tag on this blog.

Back to my second elective – Introduction to Project Management. Even though for me as an MBA student it was an elective, it was in fact a required core course for incoming first-year students to the Master of Science in Project Management program at GW School of Business. As far as I know, this Master of Science in Project Management (MSPM) program is one of relatively few specialized Masters programs in Project Management in the country. It also boasts to be one of the oldest programs in the nation. You can learn more about it on GWU website for MSPM program.

The very first observation I had in the classroom – how different was the students demographics from that in the part-time MBA program at GW. It was really a very remarkable difference. I mentioned before in my blog that I am probably the oldest part-time MBA student in all of the MBA classes I have taken at GW, given the average age of MBA students is 28. However in this class the average age of students was significantly higher. Based on 15 years of experience in current students profile in MSPM vs. 5 years in part-time MBA, the average age of Project Management students was around 38. There were a couple of guys who were even older than me. Overall the student body looked more mature than regular MBAs.

It reminded me about the stereotypes for students in different departments in my undegraduate university. We had three major departments for students of foreign languages: English, German and French. There was a general belief among the university students that the language structure and the culture of the countries they represented had a significant influence on the character of students in respective departments. The students at French department were considered the most frivolous and carefree; the students of German were viewed as the most rigid and pedantic; and the English students were considered the most progressive and liberal. Don’t hold grudges against me, I am just sharing with you the stereotypes that were held by many people in my university 😉 .

Anyways, when I started my classes in Introduction to Project Management and met my group mates, these old stereotypes immediately came to my mind. I thought to myself that the students in MSPM program vs MBA students were like students in German vs English department in my undegrad university. I don’t know if it was because of the age and experience difference or due to the more rigid structure of the Project Management as a discipline, as most of the MSPM students had been working as Project Managers (PM) before starting and during the program. Overall my impression was that the MSPM students were more serious, more responsible than the MBAs. One other possible reason could be that this was their very first class in a graduate program after many years out of formal college education. I remembered that I was also taking it much more seriously in my first year of part-time MBA studies at GW. The second year I have been more confident and therefore a bit more relaxed in my attitudes. So there is hope that Project Management students will also take it easy as they progress through the program ;-).

At any rate, for me personally the class was very helpful inspite of the somewhat monotonous manner of the instructor. As I have believed during my time at GW School of Business – you get from the program only as much as you want. I had genuine interest in the subject and it was interesting enough for me to try to learn as much as I could. So stay tuned, and I will share more on my Introduction to Project Management class experience.


Leave of absence from the blog, that is.

It has been over four months now since my last update on the blog :-( . Even my summer break last year did not take me away from posting on my site for that long.

There has been a lot going on, so I kind of slipped back quite a bit. A few of the excuses, however lame, for my absence: end of the Fall term with its finals, Holiday season, search for a new job – all at the same time. After that – transition into the new job from early January on, which required more focus on learning the intricacies of new position and environment. And then, of course, just plain slackness kicked in, after I got out of the routine of posting.

Anyways, I am back now. I am still doing my part-time MBA at GWU and now I am coming close to the end of the Spring term. In the time of absence from the blog so many things related to my course work and the program happenned, that it is hard to decide now where to start from. Many of the things were relatively small and could be of relevance in the right time, but now seem irrelevant. Other things were more substantial and newsworthy, but sort of stale now.  This, by the way, was yet another reason for prolonged absence – just hard to think where to start from after a month or two of not keeping the blog.

So I decided to resume my postings with something that has relevance to MBA students most of the time – business case analysis. I posted my analysis of a case from Harvard Business School – Deloitte & Touche Consulting Group. This was one of the cases we had to prepare individually in our Consultative Processes class.

Hopefully, I will take up the slack somewhat and make up for the missed time.