Note from the CEO

February was Women’s History Month and I have been reflecting on my journey as a female business owner in a STEM industry. Inevitably, my thoughts turned to one of the causes I care most about: expanding the pipeline of female leadership in STEM. While I have faced obstacles in my own career, and recent events like the controversy surrounding the discrepancy between the facilities for men’s and women’s teams at March Madness remind us of the systemic hurdles women still face, I wanted to focus on some of the ways women and men have supported my career over the past thirty years and some practical steps I’ve learned about promoting women’s voices throughout my personal journey.

1)     Find promoters and champions, not just mentors – I learned early in my career that there’s a difference between a career mentor and a career promoter. When I was just starting my career, I had plenty of people who wanted to give me advice, but a man named Jerry Mikeal went beyond advice and promoted and championed my career. Instead of simply telling me what he thought I could do, he made introductions for me, included me in meetings with decisionmakers, promoted my work with senior staff, and provided me with opportunities to shine. I’d encourage any women starting out to find their Jerry Mikeal – find someone who goes beyond mentorship and is willing to champion and promote your career. And for those of us in more senior positions, I’d like to challenge you to reflect on whether you’re actively promoting and championing women’s careers and what active steps you can take right now to shift from a mentor to a promoter.

2)     Inclusion Means Being in the Room Where It Happens – I love the musical Hamilton, and one of my favorite parts of the show is the song “The Room Where It Happens,” in which Alexander Hamilton jockeys to be a key member of George Washington’s cabinet. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned throughout my career is that if key decisions are taking place without you in “the room where it happens,” your actual authority may be different than your job title. I’ll never forget a story I heard from a fellow female engineer about being excluded from a company off-site because she was a woman. While some may argue that she had a chance to contribute her perspective through other channels, in reality, my friend and colleague was placed at a considerable disadvantage relative to her male peers. Whenever we’re tasked with making decisions, we all need to think about who is in the room where it is happening, whether those are the right voices, and which voices may have been excluded for whatever reason, then actively create decision making processes that ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to participate.

3)     Be considerate of and find ways to redistribute unpaid work – The pandemic has brought the staggering amount of unpaid labor women perform into stark relief. Here’s a fascinating graphic from the New York Times illustrating the issue and calculating that “in the United States, women perform an average of four hours of unpaid work per day compared to men’s two and a half hours.” In countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, unpaid domestic labor often includes childcare, elder care, carpooling, and meal preparation. In the office, this sometimes takes the form of asking women to take on uncompensated roles outside of their job description, such as planning corporate functions, providing emotional support to other employees, or completing menial tasks that reinforce gender stereotypes. Anyone, no matter how junior his or her role, can take steps to be considerate of the added labor burden many women bear at home and take actions to redistribute unpaid work in the office. For example, recurring meetings can be scheduled at times that consider a team member’s need to drop off her child at school or prepare a meal for her family. Or the responsibility for planning a corporate get together could be assigned to the most junior employee regardless of his or her gender or made explicit in a particular team member’s job description. When setting your team’s schedule, take a moment to consider whether it takes into account team member’s obligations outside of the office and make sure each task is assigned to the appropriate team member regardless of their gender.

Reflecting throughout Women’s History Month, I’ve been incredibly grateful for the promoters and champions, for the people who invited me into the room where it happens, and who took into account the multiple hats I wear as a mother, daughter, and community leader. While I’ll always be an advocate for systemic policy changes through organizations like WIPP, I hope each of you will take a moment to consider the immediate, practical steps you can take to champion the women in your life.

Misty Mayes, CEO

Upcoming Changes to the PMP and their Effect on Future Practitioners.

For anyone within the field of Project Management, Project Controls or Construction Management, the PMP credential is a badge of honor. This credential is known worldwide as an indication that the individual who possesses it has the education and experience necessary to manage projects across a wide breadth of industries and varying degrees of complexity. For aspiring practitioners of these fields and thousands of existing Project Managers who are looking to increase their skill sets and the weight their title carries, the PMP is one piece of the puzzle in establishing a successful career in project management.
Recently the path to obtaining the PMP has undergone significant changes. These changes effect the exam itself and are a reflection of the emerging Project Management environment that will be encountered by practitioners of the future. This will be an environment where project managers will have to make rapid decisions based on continuously evolving project data and react to large amounts of feedback. The changes to the PMP are designed to create more nimble project managers who have the agility to deal with the pace of future projects. These changes are summarized in the following section:
  1. The exam now has three domains: people, process, and business environment. Previously, there were five domains (initiating, planning, executing, monitoring/controlling, closing). In past exams, the project approach focus was Waterfall at 90% over Agile at 10%. The two techniques are now balanced 50-50, in the respects of how equivalently imperative they are. This shift towards a further emphasis on agile project management is yet another reflection of the drive to create swifter project managers.
  2. Other Changes to the exam include the question format. Previously, the exam consisted solely of multiple-choice questions. In upcoming iterations of the exam, aspiring practitioners will have to cope with questions formatted as multiple-choice, fill in the blank, free response and matching. These changes to the exam are designed to increase the exams rigor and assess the critical thinking skills of candidates more thoroughly.
  3. One aspect of the exam that has gone unchanged for the time being are the education and experience requirements necessary to sit for the exam. The requirements are paramount to the candidate’s success on the exam and ensure that those who are successful have an acceptable background to consider themselves a true project management professional. The current education requirements require that the candidate have a 4-year degree, 36 months of project work, and 35 hours of project management education OR a high school / associates degree, 60 months of project work, and 35 hours of project management education. These requirements, while strict, ensure that the PMP credential maintains its prestige and we can only speculate that they may become even more stringent in the future.
We encourage that anyone who intends on taking the PMP exam, engage in the PMP prep class. The class should be taken four to six weeks prior to the exam. Definitively, the updated structure is more ideal to equip Project Managers for the ever-evolving world of projects and networking. 
MSLLC Employee Goes Above and Beyond

At Management Solutions, employees live by a set of core values that provide a clear view of what we value as an institution. These values are as follows:

·        Integrity and Trust
·        Passion
·        Servants Heart
·        Accountability
·        Balanced Perspective

Recently, one Management Solutions employee has exemplified all of these and went above and beyond to provide home-cooked meals to the individuals struggling in the Knoxville area. Tiffany Hearn has devoted countless hours in the preparation and distribution of these meals in the hope that it might alleviate an ongoing problem with hunger that has only been exacerbated to the pandemic. When asked about her motivations and what her next steps will be, Tiffany says:

I am grateful and very fortunate to be gainfully employed while so many others have suffered loss. I responded to the call, asked what I could do to help and still stay safe during these trying times. I have committed to dropping off a meal once a month to support the Water Angels Ministries Friday night community meal. On March 5th, I kicked of my first adventure and provided 15 gallons of homemade chicken noodle soup and cornbread muffins to feed 100 people. It was a very tiring feat but rewarding to know that I have given what I could to provide warmth and comfort to those less fortunate. I am excited about my next adventure scheduled for April 28th.  I have not come up with a menu yet ,however, it will be homemade, cooked through love with a strong desire to provide a sense of hope and encourage me with every bite!”

Obviously, Tiffany’s actions have had a meaningful impact in our local community and set an example for all of us here at Management Solutions and abroad. As we navigate the pandemic, there are more opportunities than ever to provide support for those around us. Something as simple as a home cooked meal can have a major impact in someone’s outlook and help them cope with a difficult situation. These acts of kindness are what we strive for at Management Solutions and we hope our staff will continue to support our local, national, and global communities.
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