Q. What exactly is it that you do here?
I’m the project manager for ten24 so it’s my responsibility to have daily communication with all of our clients, to manage their projects with our developers. I also manage our online project management software, Teamwork, and make sure that clients know how to report issues or questions they may have on there so that I can then get developer’s assistance in answering those and/or feeding the information to the appropriate project leader.
Q. What do you enjoy most about your job?
My favorite part of this job are the clients. I have daily interaction with some wonderful people doing wonderful things in their work. At old positions that I had I was working for non-profits where everyday I would work on the same website all day long, for the same company. And after a year or two that can get kind of boring. I love the fact that everyday I don’t know what to expect in terms of what site I’ll be looking at or who I’ll be speaking to, which always keeps changing, keeps me engaged and interested.
Q. What’s the hardest project you’ve had to work on?
Launching the PHIA CMS application, largely because it is a business I had no previous knowledge of. To work with developers to build a database that this company would be using on a daily basis to do their work was a challenge because I had to wrap my head around the business first which is not something I’m usually comfortable with (healthcare claims). It was eye-opening, business-wise. It was a challenge to wrap my head around the business in order to make sure that the tasks that we were doing complimented what they wanted. Plus we had a short time-frame to get it launched, with a lot of work that needed to get done.
Q. How many projects do you manage at any given time?
We have about 30 active projects, but they ebb and flow between 10-15 projects every day I’m touching.
Q. How do you keep that all straight in your head?
I use Teamwork! It’s an amazing resource for me as a project manager because I’m able to see, at a moment's notice, where a project is at and what communication’s been happening both internally and externally with our clients. What tasks are open and closed, when they’re due, it’s how I live my life as a project manager. I can consult that and know exactly where a project status is and what is happening on it to the minute.
Q. What do you spend the most time doing each day?
Meetings. My job is to facilitate communication between the clients and our developers to make sure our project is on task, on time and on budget so we do that frequently with meetings. I don’t always have to be in them, but I like to be so that I’m aware of where a project is sitting and what the next steps might be. I also have a lovely project coordinator who assists me with this, so I don’t always have to be running around. I can spend my time managing tasks in teamwork and communicating directly with the developers on the work that they are doing.
Q. In your mind, what’s the most important thing for any project manager to do?
I think it is important for project managers to have clear communication with clients, by being up-front and honest about the status of a project. If your developers are working hard and we know that the deadline of Friday may not be met due to circumstance a, b or c, a project manager’s job is to make sure the client knows as quickly as possible and provides next steps to get to where they need to be. I think it’s important to make sure clients are constantly aware of a project status even if you are diligently working hard and don’t have any questions it’s good to check in with them and say: “we are all set, we’re working hard and still on track, just wanted to let you know”.
Q. Do you have any special tricks that help you be more efficient?
Baking desserts and other goodies for the developers. Any time I provide them with sugar and caffeine, development goes up.
Q. How do you deal with uncooperative developers?
I withhold their baked goods until they clean up their act.
Q. How do you deal with uncooperative clients?
Typically there is no uncooperative client, rather there are clients that have different expectations for the project than were previously explained to ten24. So in situations like that, I get all the key people both on the ten24 side and the client side, together, in a room as quickly as possible. To make sure that everybody knows what the expectations are for the project before we go any further down a rabbit hole and make sure that the client’s expectations meet what we are producing for them.
Q. How do you spend your free time?
I spend my free time scrapbooking! I have a whole room in my house dedicated to all my craft supplies. I picked up this hobby shortly after getting married in 2004 and it has since grown into exploding my wallet and house with craft supplies and photographs of my family and friends.
Q. Favorite movie?
That is an extremely hard question for me, since I have too many favorite movies and I have the ability to watch the same movie two to three times a day. So when people tell me that their favorite movie is movie “X” because they’ve seen it five times, I laugh, because I’ve seen some movies well over 100 times. Mostly movies from the 80s and 90s since that’s when I was growing up and have great memories of movies during those periods.
Q. Favorite local lunch place?
Talytas. My husband is Salvadorian, and it is extremely hard to find Salvadorian cuisine in New England and they serve pupusas, so I enjoy going there to get those.
I do not have one at the office, since I am the one who determines everybody’s nicknames! I have yet to give myself one, although I’m sure the developers have many names they’d like to call me. Friends and family call me Em, Emmers, and various other things that are too bad to print, but my favorite nickname is Mommy. There’s nothing better than hearing my 3 year old son, Silas, shout that in the house.
Q. Favorite video game?
Growing up my favorite games ranged from playing hours of Doom to strategizing with my father while playing the Myst series. Nowadays I don’t have much time to play video games, since I have a three-year old at home, but I do enjoy city-building games and have been trying to beat Pharaoh, a Sierra city-building game, since we bought it in 1995. I’ve always been a PC gamer, and every time I get a new computer the base files for the game get erased and I lose my progress so we are going on year 20 of me playing this game and attempting finish it through the seventh or eighth computer it’s been installed on. It’s my white whale.
Q. Favorite company-outing you have gone on so far?
I really enjoyed our company outing to Dave and Busters, because I love video games so much and it’s unusual for me to go out to a place like that with a three-year old attached to my leg. It was nice to have the freedom to play with adults for the evening and hangout with my colleagues.
Q. Dream vacation?
I have about 150 dream vacations and have created a bucket list of places I would love to travel to. Currently at the top of the list is going to Yosemite or Yellowstone because I’ve recently become enamored with national parks after visiting the Grand Canyon back in 2014. My sister and I travel together frequently, and we never really had a concept of how amazing a national park can be. Having grown up in Maine, Acadia did not wow me enough to consider it a National Park, largely in part because I grew up on the coast and I would see the ocean all the time so nothing new and exciting there. Going the Grand Canyon made us realize how much is out there in terms of beautiful scenery in the western part of our country.
Q. Favorite website to kill time?
Pinterest. A colleague of mine at a previous job told me about this site where you could go and tag pictures, recipes and things you like off the internet, and I thought that was the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of, but she insisted I check it out. Shortly thereafter, I became hooked, to the point that I’m on it every night looking for scrapbooking photos, recipes, parenting ideas… you name it!
Q. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
I can’t say it was the worst job I’ve ever had because it only lasted a week, but my Alma Mater, Endicott College, required that we do a full-semester internship our senior year. I went to an online merchandising company that sells chachkies and the second day of my internship was September 11, 2001, so the online industry immediately crashed after the chaos of that day. Within a week, I was the first person in Endicott history to have been laid off of my internship because the company closed. It wasn’t the worst job, just the most difficult because I was in my graduating year trying to decide what I wanted to do with my life and all of a sudden things we took for granted as Americans were completely turned on their head. No one knew what to do, what was going to happen, what the economy was going to be like. It was a very scary time. Thankfully the man that had hired me, who was the marketing director, took me with him to work at a talent booking agency that booked gigs for jazz artists all over the country. So I was able to finish my internship.
Q. Do you have any special secret talents?
My sister and I have a special talent where we can quote entire movies from start to finish and will have conversations entirely in movie quotes. I’m also slightly obsessed with Halloween as well and will plan my (and now my sons) costumes 9 months in advance.
Q. Coke or Pepsi?
Coke. I love a ice-cold coke classic in a glass bottle. But I normally head for the coke zero when I need to behave.