Breakout Sessions

Kick-Start Your Kick-Offs
Presenter: Julie Simon
Target Audience: Intermediate (2-5 years experience)
Focus/PMI Talent Triangle: Technical Project Management; People, Process, Performance, Tools

Abstract: While the most recent PMBOK references the term “kick-off meeting” for the very first time, these gatherings have long offered a strategic forum to inspire, align, and equip our project stakeholders. Join this interactive session to acquire a simple but effective kick-off meeting framework, learn practical presentation tips to amp up your delivery, and work in teams with fellow attendees to plan a kick-off meeting for hosting Thanksgiving at Grandma’s house!

Learning Objectives: Attendees will acquire a framework that works for any kick-off meeting regardless of project size. Attendees will learn practical tools and delivery strategies to help them efficiently and confidently lead their next kick-off (or any!) meeting. Attendees will practice the framework and strategies by planning a kick-off meeting in groups.

Create Effective Project Teams: Prioritizing People and Owning Your Success
Presenter(s): Rebecca Rodgers and Christine Bannon
Target Audience: Intermediate (2-5 years experience)
Focus/PMI Talent Triangle: Strategic Business Management Skills; People, Process, Performance, Methodologies

Abstract: Project management is often not an explicit step in course development; in this presentation, we’ll share highlights of how it transformed a World Campus pilot that began with prioritizing processes and ended with prioritizing people. By doing so, we empowered our team members to utilize their expertise, make autonomous contributions, and feel a sense of achievement. Join us to discover unexpected ways to apply project management and vitalize your team.

Learning Objectives:

  • Evaluate processes to increase collaboration and connect teams at a human level
  • Clarify roles and responsibilities to play to everyone’s needs, interests, and expertise
  • Establish new processes to reach peak performance
  • Manage time at the beginning of a project to identify and agree on important decisions before moving forward
Project Management Trends
Presenter(s): Lisa Hammer and David Newman
Target Audience: Intermediate (2-5 years experience)
Focus/PMI Talent Triangle: Strategic Business Management Skills; People, Process, Performance

Abstract: Throughout the history of the practice of project management we have been subject to a plethora of techniques and practices that, while fashionable at the time, became obsolete very quickly. For several years many saw Agile as one of those short-term quick-fix ideas that would soon be remembered as nothing more than a buzzword. By now most of us realize that that hasn’t happened! Agile has become one of several trends that are changing the way we accomplish our goals. In this brief presentation, Lisa and Dave will look at some of the current trends that are shaping our industry, and then you can decide…fashion or fundamental?

Learning Objectives:

  • Identify current trends within the project management industry
  • Learn how those trends may drive project management practice
  • Understand ways to adapt a project environment to align with best practice
Using Soft Skills to Lead Project Success: Perspectives from Across Disciplines
Presenter(s): Dora Hunter, Bethany Shaw, Ashley Stauffer, Meghan Flannery Hayes, Brendan Bagley
Target Audience: Intermediate (2-5 years experience)
Focus/PMI Talent Triangle: Leadership Skills; People, Process, Performance

Abstract: In this panel presentation, project managers from diverse units across the Penn State Campus will shed light on how they effectively utilize soft skills to realize their team’s goals and objectives. The panel will focus on building strong communication among subject matter experts; the importance of negotiating to manage external sponsors and internal teams to meet project goals; and the experience of leveraging team management practices to bring stakeholders together on research, contract management, and IT projects.

Learning Objectives:

  • The operational definition of “soft skills”
  • How varying types of soft skills are executed from diverse project managers in unique disciplines
  • How effective use of soft skills is critical for project success across diverse organizations
  • Specific anecdotes and experiences from a team of multidisciplinary project managers.
Case Study: The Strategic Importance of Project Governance: How the State of GA Implemented a Strategic Governance Process that Improve Citizen Services and Saved Millions of Dollars in Project Costs
Presenter: Philip Weinzimer
Target Audience: Intermediate (2-5 years experience)
Focus/PMI Talent Triangle: Strategic Business Management Skills; People, Process, Performance, Tools, Methodologies

Abstract: The State of Georgia developed an adaptive delivery governance process that reduced risk, proactively managed projects, and improved collaboration while saving millions of dollars in project costs while creating incremental value through its new governance process. This highly interactive presentation discusses the issues leading to the need for a proactive governance process to improve success for the hundreds of projects implemented by the 129 state agencies with the goal of improve citizen services.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand the challenges of state government in managing large portfolio of projects across state agencies.
  • The issues facing state PMO organizations in helping state agencies successfully manage large projects
  • The key process issues developed by Georgia PMO organization and methodology and tools used to successfully improve project risk, schedule adherence, and project goals.
  • The key success factors in selecting a Project Governance tool to ensure project portfolio governance success.
  • Access to case study published material.
If Your Project Went Exactly as Planned, You Failed, You are Lying, or You Were Unnecessary
Presenter: Jim Taylor
Target Audience: Beginner (some PM knowledge/new to the field)
Focus/PMI Talent Triangle: Leadership Skills; People

Abstract: Many project success stories are told as straight-line stories of perfect planning and execution. This is rarely the truth for successful projects. Projects that fail to achieve their business objectives, often do so because they executed exactly as planned without regard to changing circumstances or new information. Highly successful projects almost always experience significant challenges and failures on their way to achieving their business objectives. We diminish to contribution of project managers, teams, sponsors and stakeholders when we leave the tough parts out of our success stories. And we set up false expectations in listeners that project success is just a matter of perfect planning and strict adherence to the plan. The value of project management is in reacting to risks and failures along the way to ensure ultimate success. We, as project managers, need to include project struggles in our tales of project success.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Awareness of the value of communicating about the struggles that successful projects encounter and how they were overcome
  2. Ability to identify the keys to appropriately communicate about project struggles without alienating team members, sponsors or stakeholders.
Team Building with Grace and Truth – Effectively Engaging Leaders, Staff, and Volunteers
Presenter(s): Linda Duerr and Yuhui Zhou
Target Audience: Beginner (some PM knowledge, new to the field)
Focus/PMI Talent Triangle: Strategic Business Management Skills; People, Performance , Tools, Methodologies

Abstract: Team building with grace and truth – effectively engaging leaders, staff and volunteers The Arboretum at Penn State has over 370 acres but only 10 staff members (less than half of whom work full time). We couldn’t operate without our volunteers (around 600). As you can imagine, we value and rely heavily on volunteers to run events and maintain our gardens. Successful teamwork is a key element in our success.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Unity (More manpower doesn’t necessarily mean more productivity
  • Lack of unity can be disastrous
  • Fairness in workload distribution (Crisis could be a blessing in disguise by bringing forth unity and creativity)
  • Mission, Vision, Core values (“Often meaningless work, not overwork, wears us down, saps our strength, and rob our joy” – Rick Warren)[/learn_more]
Lessons from the Wizard: Gandalf on Project Management
Presenter: Samuel Barnes
Target Audience: Intermediate (2-5 years experience)
Focus/PMI Talent Triangle: Leadership Skills; People, Process, Methodologies

Abstract: Project methodologies are as numerous as there are practitioners but key project structures are often overlooked in our quest to develop the next great app. Innovative project-related wisdom is more than just a good schedule, documented plans, and accurate estimation; this presentation aims to re-frame project selection with a longer view, project management as an art, project teams as individuals to be nurtured, and projects as adventures with surprise endings

Learning Objectives:

  • Techniques for forging integration
  • Communication with fewer words
  • Managing risk without killing your budget
  • Procuring resources with no funds
  • Managing stakeholders who oppose your project mandate
LionPATH and WorkLion: Behind the Scenes
Presenter(s): Michael Busges, Rina Kumar, and Stephanie Szakal
Target Audience: Knowledgeable/Advanced
Focus/PMI Talent Triangle: Strategic Business Management Skills; People, Process, Methodologies

Abstract: The panel discussion will address multiple aspects of two foundational Penn State ERP initiatives, such as: project planning and initiation, managing implementation partners, project governance, change management, transition to post production support.

Learning Objective:

  • Appreciation of challenges and opportunities within large scale, multi-year, complex ERP implementations
The Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall at Penn State – The Journey of how Three Project Managers Coordinated this Large-Scale Event
Presenter(s): Beth Bamford, Cassie Caldwell, and Jason Smith
Target Audience: Intermediate (2-5 years experience)
Focus/PMI Talent Triangle: Leadership Skills; People, Process, Performance

Abstract: WPSU, Penn State’s public media station, planned The Vietnam War- Telling the Pennsylvania Story media and community engagement project to promote memory, history, and healing in the community. The culminating event was an installation of the Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall at Penn State, which was attended by 8,000 people and included an Education Day for area students. Join us for a discussion about how two project managers from WPSU and one from Office of Physical Plant worked together to effectively coordinate the complex, multi-faceted event. We will discuss how we guided the project team to work together to focus on what is really essential at the project level – integrating processes, knowledge and people.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand how project managers work across departments to plan a large-scale event
  • Effectively manage communication with multi-unit project teams, community partners, and other stakeholders
  • Manage risks, issues, and changes collaboratively and independently
  • Use tools and techniques to manage the budget, schedule, and scope of work
How to Deal with Annoying People and Make Your Team Stronger
Presenter: Amy Elliott
Target Audience: Intermediate (2-5 years)
Focus/PMI Talent Triangle: Leadership Skills; People, Process, Performance

Abstract: Do you have team members who always seem to be odds with each other or with you? Do you imagine having the ability to change annoying people? Are you the annoying team member? There is a reason that we find each other annoying, by tapping into that knowledge, we can build stronger teams. This presentation will show you how to identify our differences in ways that make us better team members.

Learning Objectives: Using techniques from “How to Deal with Annoying People” by Bob Phillips and Kimberly Alyn in a team building exercise, you will engage your team in identifying their strengths and weaknesses. This knowledge will create a stronger team dynamic and lead to better performance and a more enjoyable work environment.

Paving the Cow Path – Is Your Project Ready to be a Project?
Presenter(s): Juli Bogdash, Brian McClafferty, and Galen Lentz
Target Audience: Intermediate (2-5 years experience)
Focus/PMI Talent Triangle: Strategic Business Management Skills;  Process, Performance, Methodologies

Abstract: Often time people think a purchased tool is the solution to their process woes. As a result, projects start before they are truly ready. This presentation will provide insight into processes and techniques to ensure project readiness so that you aren’t just paving the cow path

Learning Objectives:

  • Tips and tricks to optimize processes and/or policies
  • Right sizing your project management approach to the project
  • Recommendations for knowing your project is ready
The Power of Partnership: Blending Project Management and Organizational Change Management Disciplines
Presenter(s): Ken Layng and Sue Cromwell
Target Audience: Intermediate (2-5 years experience)
Focus/PMI Talent Triangle: Technical Skills; People, Process, Performance , Methodologies

Abstract: This presentation comprises two sections: the first will describe, theoretically, how organizational change management and project management methodologies and principles, when coordinated and employed together, result in improved project success. The second section presents a case study describing a portfolio of projects at Penn State’s University Police and Public Safety where this approach was applied. Using this case study, you will learn how a PM team and an OCM team worked together to build project and change competence, and to deliver project success and business value.

Learning Objectives:

  • Share learned best practices
  • Provide an overview of lessons learned
  • Describe the learning journey and keys to success
  • Share examples of tools and templates to drive project success
How the Magic Happens: Processes, People, Communication, and Performance
Presenter(s): Kelli Prescott, Brendan Bagley, Michelle Carr, and Lindsey Marshall 
Target Audience: Intermediate (2-5 years experience)
FocusPMI Talent Triangle: Leadership Skills; People, Process, Performance , Tools, Methodologies

Abstract: We’re back! Two years ago, the Office of Physical Plant (OPP) ITS PMO spoke about tools and processes used within our office. Now, we will focus on the “softer” side of what makes our office successful. Join us for a panel discussion about the processes, people, communication, and performance that when applied together, help us add value to our projects, our team, and our stakeholders.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understanding of a maturing PMO at Penn State
  • Tools and artifacts available
  • Engaging conversation with panel and audience participants
A Slice of Swiss Cheese, Please
Presenter: Matthew Heller
Target Audience: Intermediate (2-5 years experience)
Focus/PMI Talent Triangle: Strategic Business Management Skills; People, Process, Performance , Tools, Methodologies

Abstract: Rethinking project risk analysis and risk management through a foundational understanding of the Swiss Cheese Model of Accident Causation (SCMAC). Within the framework of the SCMAC, risk analysis and risk management become layers of protection (or layers of Swiss Cheese) to block or mitigate risks. Special attention will be given to the iron triangle and the viewpoints different stakeholders may have towards protecting project assets from threats.

Learning Objectives:

  • Gain a foundational understanding of the Swiss Cheese Model of Accident Causation (SCMAC)
  • Understand how the risk reduction matrix acts as a layer of Swiss Cheese (protection) between the project and risks
  • Appreciate your role as a “protector” that is protecting project “assets” from “threats”
Alternative, Visually Oriented, Project Scheduling Techniques
Presenter: Kenneth Schroyer
Target Audience: Intermediate (2-5 years experience)
Focus/PMI Talent Triangle: Technical Skills; Process, Performance , Tools, Methodologies

Abstract: Alternative, Visually Oriented, Project Scheduling Techniques Activity-On-Arrow Networks, Critical Path Method (CPM) and other visual diagramming methods are time tested, practical approaches to project scheduling, which capitalize on the fact that visual information and directions are processed 60,000 times faster than text, thereby boosting the chances of project success for the Project Manager, the Project Team and Management.

Learning Objectives: To understand that a one-size-fits-all Gantt Chart scheduling technique is not appropriate for all projects; to understand the value in visually-integratable scheduling techniques; to learn several visual scheduling techniques; and why visually-integratable diagrams are superior to Gantt Charts, especially in a University environment.

The Lonely Only – How to Stay Sane When You’re the Only PM in Your Organization
Presenter: Michelle Isham
Target Audience: Intermediate (2-5 years)
Focus/PMI Talent Triangle: Strategic Business Management Skills; People, Process, Performance

Abstract: Not every project management position exists within the framework of a PMO. Sometimes it’s only you standing between your organization and project chaos. Whether you’re a new hire charged with developing a project management process for your organization or the company veteran who’s the go-to for project management, this presentation will help you organize, evangelize, and thrive in an environment where you’re one of a kind.

Learning Objectives: Attendees will learn tips for managing workload, building support networks inside and outside your organization, and winning over the project management resistant, plus a killer cocktail recipe for when all else fails.

Program Management – Delivering Benefits and Organizational Transformation
Presenter: Joseph Sopko
Target Audience: Knowledgeable/Advanced
Focus/PMI Talent Triangle: Strategic Business Management Skills; People, Process, Performance , Tools, Methodologies

Abstract: Programs are more than complex undertakings or a collection of related projects. Programs deliver enabling capabilities through projects and transition the outputs of those projects into an organization or market where outcomes are improved and benefits are realized. Through programs we see the value contribution of project management. Two standards that discuss the management of programs in the commercial world are PMI Standard for Program Management and the UK methodology Managing Successful Programmes. This presentation will discuss the context of these standards as well as advanced techniques in project control that can be used to optimize the value realized by programs – the program business case.

Learning Objectives: Understanding global program management methods and best practices; contrasting project and program management; utilizing program management as a vehicle for delivering organizational transformation; improving outcome performance and benefits realization management; case studies in organizational project management (OPM) improvement program management.

The PMI Game Show
Presenter(s): Lisa Komidar, Cassie Caldwell, Beth Bamford
Target Audience: Beginner (some PM knowledge, new to the field)
Focus/PMI Talent Triangle: Technical Skills; Tools, PMP Exam 6th Edition prep

Abstract: Studying for the PMI Exams can be overwhelming at times. Most of us have either been through the experience already or are beginning the journey. This fast paced game show will provide a great interactive way to experience questions that may be found on the PMI PMP, CAPM or ACP examinations. Fun for all experience levels and everyone will have the opportunity to win prizes.

Learning Objective: Study or brush up on your knowledge of PMI PMP/CAPM and ACP by participating in a real game show.

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