Consulting and teaching are two of the best ways to gain wide experience in project management. Jarrod Anderson, today’s featured guest, has the wide experience of a consultant and the empathy of a teacher. In this interview, you’ll learn about the challenges you face in large, program-scale projects where success and failure are difficult to understand. Implementing change and compliance at large financial institutions is not a challenge for the faint of heart.
About Jarrod Anderson, PMP
Jarrod Anderson is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) with 20 years of software development experience within the Mortgage Banking and Financial Services industry. His focus has been on the design and development of Loan Origination Systems, Mortgage Software, and Financial Services Applications. He provides expert analytical and technical consulting services in Software Application Development, Business Intelligence, Analytics, and Business Process solutions. He holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Finance, Real Estate, and Law from California Polytechnic State University, Pomona.
As an independent consultant, Jarrod has advised firms such as Wells Fargo, Washington Mutual, and Bankers Trust (Deutsche Bank). Prior to his current role at a Fortune 100 technology firm, Jarrod worked at Oracle Corpration.
1) What are your favourite projects and why?
I’m interested in very large projects because of the scale and complexity involved. I’ve worked on projects with America’s largest financial institutions. Those kind of enterprise software projects involve multiple jurisdictions and lines of business – there’s a lot of complexity to manage.
2) How did you get started in project management?
It was a gradual evolution. I started my career on Wall Street where I administered a multi-billion dollar mortgage bond portfolio. Later on, I transitioned to Oracle where I began work on large technology projects. Recently, I’ve been working at a large IT firm that provides consulting and project management services to the largest financial institutions in America and abroad.
3) What’s the largest project you’ve ever run?
In terms of budget, I’ve worked on programs and projects that run well into nine figures. Those programs and projects have thousands of resources working on them spanning many years. I’ve also been assigned projects that were originally scoped for a few months but were completed within days. It is a matter of perspective
4) What frustrates you the most in project work?
In my career, I have seen every kind of project frustration and failure imaginable. For example, many projects rely on superstars to deliver high quality work on projects and to pick up the slack on projects. Unfortunately, overworking the superstars can lead to burnout.
At my organization, I have facilitated courses to help staff pass the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam. In teaching that course, I’m exposed to a wide variety of project approaches and get to hear all kinds of horror stories.
5) What did you study at university and how does that fit into your career goals?
I studied Finance, Real Estate, and Law in college. That knowledge was very helpful when I moved to Wall Street. Later, I developed expertise in loan origination at financial institutions. Throughout my career, I’ve been focused on the financial industry.
6) In your work, what regulations are having the greatest impact on project management?
The Dodd-Frank Act and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are driving a great deal of project work. Project work on Dodd-Frank and Government-Sponsored Enterprises are continuing to pour in. There are proposed regulations relating to mortgage lending in the works – I expect that more projects will be required when that is completed.
In addition to the federal regulators, we also have to contend with fifty state regulators. Fortunately, state regulators tend to propose relatively minor changes which are easier to manage.
7) How do you plan for ongoing maintenance of work after a project has been delivered?
Claiming completion, in the traditional project management sense, is very difficult in large scale projects.
By the time a project ends, you typically have had several changes in leadership, scope, and resources. As a result, project success criteria change over time. In a regulatory project, focus is to meet a deadline imposed by a regulatory agency. For large banks, failure is not an option for regulatory projects.
8) How has project sponsorship evolved over time?
In the financial industry, there has been a changing of the guard at the top leadership level since the most recent financial crisis. Crisis equals opportunity, or so the saying goes.
Potential or actual penalties from regulators tend to prompt executive focus. That said, there are some organizations with a very robust leadership culture – focus and drive are steady in those environments.
9) How has the discipline of project management matured over the past five years in your organization?
Overall, there is a much greater flexibility in communications and assigning staff to projects. Project management software has become significantly more sophisticated – these tools are making a difference. I’m seeing more movement away from traditional models in project management.
“Resources on demand” is becoming the order of the day for staffing projects. That trend fits with the rise of less regimented organizational structures.
10) What resources do you use to stay informed about the latest news in project development?
The Project Management Institute is the single best resource. In situations where it is important to align with industry best practices, PMI is hard to beat.
I’m also finding that it is easier and easier to contact my own network for insight through social means.
11) When somebody says project management to you, what comes to mind?
If somebody new to the field asked for me for advice I’d say, “Good luck and be decisive!” Project management is challenging work and you need a thick skin to succeed.
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