Saturday, October 11, 2014

Taking the Stanford Advanced Project Management Course

For many professionals who are aspiring to become project managers,  the Stanford Certificate on Advanced Project Management is worth taking.
 
This program requires participants to take six (6) courses, three (3) of which are required courses and the other three (3) are elective courses.  

The required courses to take are as follows: 

1. Converting Strategy into Action
2. Leadership for Strategic Execution
3. Executing Complex Programs  

It is recommended to take these subjects in this order. 

For the elective courses, you can choose from twelve (12) courses the description of each is provided in the Stanford Center for Professional Development website. Here is the link to the website http://scpd.stanford.edu/home.  

You can also earn PDU's from this course if you are maintaining a PMP credential.  

After completing the course, you will receive a certificate bearing the Stanford University seal as below. 
 

The application process for taking this course might seem daunting especially that three (3) essays are required. For project management practitioners, you can choose from your gamut of experiences to write about.
    
My personal advise in writing the essay is, first, you have to reflect on what you have done already, what you have achieved and what you still want to accomplish.  

In the first essay prompt, highlight your major responsibilities pertaining to project management. In the second essay, convey the breadth and depth of your project management experience. You can mention here your involvement in project planning, monitoring and leading your team. For the third prompt, you have to convey what do you still want to achieve in taking the course. It is good if you read first the course catalogue and from there decide what do you want to take. You can also mention in your third essay the elective courses you want to take and why you want to take it.   

Here are the essays I submitted when I applied for this program.

Please describe your current job responsibilities, particularly as they relate to project, program, and portfolio management.*
(A minimum of 200 words is required for your application to be considered complete.)
I am currently working as a Process Engineer for an Engineering and Construction company. As such, our work is basically on executing engineering, procurement and construction projects for various clients spanning across the globe. As a project member, first and foremost, I have to ensure that I am executing our project activities to the baseline. I have to be sure that we can deliver, what was agreed upon in the contract. If there are changes to it either from our side or from the client-side, we have to issue a design change notice and have it approved. In addition to that, having five and a half years of work experience in this industry, I am expected to do both technical and project management tasks. I can be assigned as lead process engineer in which case I have to make a plan for executing our project. I have to do the work breakdown structure of our project, schedule the activities and assign tasks to the project members. This bigger role is what I am preparing for in taking the Stanford Advanced Project Management Program. As an individual project team member, I have to have a broader view of project execution and its management as it relates to our corporate strategy and how my role can contribute towards the accomplishments of our corporate goals. As a process engineer, I have to manage well the technical tasks given to me. I have to do planning and prioritization of project activities. My lead engineer also involves me in planning, scheduling and status reporting.

Please summarize any project, program and/or portfolio management experience you have gained in previous positions, including experience as a project team member, project sponsor, or executive with project management oversight.*
(A minimum of 200 words is required for your application to be considered complete.)
In my five and a half years of work experience, I was involved in projects located in various countries spanning across the globe. I basically did projects for four petroleum refineries, three petrochemical plants, one wastewater treatment plant and one chemical plant. In all those projects, I have to ensure the timely submission of my deliverables. I was also asked for inputs in planning the project activities. I also coordinated with my counterparts in Japan, Singapore and Netherlands as we ensure the technical integrity of our deliverables.   
 
At one time, I was given the role of area lead in which I was tasked to supervise junior engineers. Since our group was relatively small, I prepared a simple plan in which I delegated the tasks to my group members with the corresponding schedule for their deliverables. At that time, I monitored their timely submission and I would report to my lead what we have accomplished.
 
In one of the companies that I worked for, I was assigned to manage the technical publications portfolio of our department. At that time, this was set as a performance measure for our department because it was recession and many of the engineers were idle. The company was encouraging the engineers to publish papers in technical journals and or present technical papers in professional conventions. This is part of the business development efforts of our company because they are using those technical papers to entice prospective clients avail our engineering services. What I did that time was I prepared a strategic plan on how we can sustain the number of technical paper submissions per year. I formed a technical committee to review the technical papers and prepared a list of technical journals/professional conventions where the engineers can publish/present their technical papers. I sought the commitment of our technical reviewers and I explained well to our members our strategic plan as well as the importance of their participation. It turned out that my initiative was successful, because our department exceeded the target number of publication/presentation outputs.  

What do you hope to achieve through your participation through the Stanford Advanced Project Management Certificate Program?*
(A minimum of 200 words is required for your application to be considered complete.)
I hope to learn advanced techniques on project management especially on project management strategies, execution of complex programs, leadership for strategic execution, managing global initiatives, financial evaluation of project proposal and project risk management. In taking this program, I hope that two to three years from now, it can help me in doing the bigger responsibilities of a project manager. I also hope that in gaining knowledge from this program and in my project management experiences in the future, I will be able to contribute to the improvement of our project management processes.

Working for a company that executes projects in multiple locations worldwide, I need to know the dynamics and drivers of a foreign market. I should also know how to avoid hidden costs associated with cultural and regulatory differences. I also need to assess critically the requirements for transforming management systems across territorial boundaries. All these I can learn in Managing Global Initiatives course.
Having a process engineering background, I am in an advantaged position to reap the most value for our project if I have a thorough understanding of the financial statements because I will know the cost drivers of our project and I can recommend the necessary technical modifications on the process being used.  In addition to that I need to generate and analyze various scenarios to increase the likelihood of attaining our bottom-line. More importantly, I also want to know the investment analysis techniques for evaluating project proposals. I want to know the key metrics and financial ratios and how it is being used in financial analysis.
 
I am also interested to learn about project risk management in which I want to know the effect of “flaw of averages” to traditional metrics. I want to have a thorough understanding of the uncertainty probability distributions and the considerations for managing and mitigating project risks. This will be very helpful for me because in all the projects that I was involved in there were always risks that need to be managed and the consequences mitigated.          

16 comments:

  1. Really great article!! Recently, I had consulted Dr. Aloke Ghosh regarding bank accountant interview. And you know, he provided me very useful tips about the interview. He is a best consultant whom I always clear my doubts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm thankful that you like the article I wrote.

      Have a nice day!

      Delete
  2. Did you attend any of the in-person classes or did you do it all online? How rigorous was the course work? Cases, tests, being called upon by professor, etc?? Do you recommend for someone who has not had any prior project management education?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I took it all online. The course work was rigorous as it entails a lot of activities and there were also examinations.

      Yes I recommend it for anyone who had no prior project management education.

      Delete
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  4. Great article, thanks for sharing. One question, I know it depends from person to person, but do you have any suggestions what elective courses to choose from and what's your impressions on courses you chose?

    ReplyDelete
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  10. A smallish campaign with a homemade list would not be likely to yield much of a result. To achieve anything worthwhile, a much more aggressive effort is needed. Then, the age-old value analysis applies: projected earnings = margin on total projected sales - cost of campaign.

    ReplyDelete
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