A Brief History of 'Project Manager' Justin
Project management (PM) has always been an important part of my life, both personally and professionally, because it has allowed me to accomplish an insane amount of ambitious things with fast turnarounds.
From graduating university in just 2 years to bicycling 3,000 miles across America to all of my own ventures and investments, one of the keys to my ongoing success is my ability to diligently plan and strategically execute my projects while motivating and empowering myself as well as the teams that surround me.
What Drives Me: People
My greatest passion in life is building community by empowering people so project management to me has been an invaluable tool and platform for achieving these aspirations.
Although I could be an all-star engineer, for example, I find more joy and purpose in using my natural emotional intelligence and technical experience to empower those who are most passionate about engineering to become the stars themselves.
I love removing barriers and increasing productivity for people using the right tools and streamlined processes. I believe when people have nothing weighing them down they'll be able to soar the highest. So it's also important to me that I never let the structure get in the way of the intent, which is why agile principles are applied to everything I do. I think in big pictures, but I work in increments with constant communication in order to continuously learn and improve.
When people can think more about what they're doing (the actual implementation) and less on how they're doing it (the tools and processes), they'll not only accomplish the right things on time, but they'll also be extremely satisfied through the entire journey.
PM Bootcamp: Graduating University in 2 years
It was in college that I began to implement project management techniques for the first time in my own life because I had the ambitious goal of completing my 4-year Computer Science degree in only 2 years from the top rated University of California at Davis.
Considering the iron triangle of project management—the so called triple constraints of scope, schedule, and cost—there was a lot to gain from an accelerated schedule, but it wasn't going to be a small feat to accomplish given the huge scope of work required.
PM in the Workplace
The first project management experience I had in the workplace was carried out during my 9 year career at Lawrence Livermore National Lab as both a software engineer and later on as a Stanford certified project manager and ScrumAlliance Scrum Master.
To track and manage project activities, I used the open-sourced Redmine in the early days, but quickly moved to the Atlassian suite of tools, namely Jira, Confluence, and Portfolio. I also utilized Github and Bitbucket for issue tracking as a bridge to customers. I customized and managed all of these collaboration systems, constantly evolving them with custom workflows to suit the needs of our agile team.
In conjunction with our business manager, I established and aligned project Epics with overall project milestones and customer deliverables while leading weekly team meetings and managing team sprints and product backlogs.
PM Across My Ventures
I launched my very first venture back in 2014 and I've juggled multiple full-time jobs ever since. The key to my success and retaining my sanity has always boiled down to exceptional project management practices and tools. Without all of these things, I would have crashed and burned many years ago.
Fortunately, as a software engineer also, I have learned and understood the principles and proper procedures of multi-tasking and context switching, which has made me a champion when it comes to excellent documentation and overall project organization and execution.
In launching so many ventures and projects from scratch, I've also been able to gain an intimate understanding of what it takes to break down audacious visions into bite-sized chunks. As they say: The best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.
And as an ultra-endurance athlete, I've learned how to pace myself and my projects to make it successfully across the finish line. After all, projects are marathons, not sprints (unless they're developed using agile principles ha ha!).
One of my greatest strengths in leadership is not just motivating people, but also influencing them too. As an investor and private equity manager, I find myself having to constantly communicate effectively, succinctly, and convincingly. After all, it's millions of dollars on the line for my investment funds and thousands of dollars from each of my investors. No one would invest with me if I couldn't clearly communicate the strategic investment plays I've engineered with creativity and ingenuity.
But most importantly, I believe, the success of my project management career is directly attributed to the natural emotional intelligence I've cultivated through the years as a Christian. I think it takes a genuine authenticity to truly care about those I work with, whether it's a team member, a customer, a partner, a vendor, or a service provider. I don't see all of these people as a means to an end, but rather the primary purpose for everything I do. To me, the journey is the destination. And along the journey are people and that's what I'm most passionate about: Building community by empowering people.
All of my experiences and formal training has enabled me to develop into an organized, agile, and successful entrepreneur and underlying it all, a successful project manager. (And believe it or not, I even use Jira at home!)