Downtown Venue May 25th, 2017 Meeting

Posted by amc on 05/30/2017 3:06 pm  /   Program and Meetings

By Jim Benvie, VP Programs, PMI® Houston Chapter

Roland Cuellar, from the Chapter’s Platinum Sponsor LitheSpeed, was the speaker for the Downtown Venue’s May 25th Meeting. Roland, a native of Austin, has focused exclusively on agile software development and lean business process improvement for the past twelve years.

Especially for those who missed the Keep Houston Agile Conference, tonight was an opportunity to hear his presentation on, “Portfolio Management and its Impact on Project Delivery”. The presentation was sub-titled “Managers Behaving Badly”, and Roland reviewed some of the crazy behaviors he has witnessed over his career, and suggested several ways organizations can overcome these problems and improve project delivery. The key takeaway for me was the fact that these issues are not technical but behavioral.

It was also Tim Powell’s last meeting as Venue Director. Tim is currently looking for work as an Engineering Project Manager in the Energy sector. He is stepping down after 5 years with the Downtown Venue; two as the Deputy, and three as the Venue Director. I would like to give a big thank you to Tim for his years of service and wish him well in his job search!

Finally thank you to our host Experis IT, especially Cristal Smith and Lauren Chatfield, for their help and support!

Project Management Toastmasters Clubs - June Tips and Discussions

Posted by amc on 05/30/2017 2:56 pm  /   Program and Meetings

Quote: "Those who tell the stories rule the world” – Native American Proverb

-  Toastmaster International's "90 Tips From 90 Years"

15. Keep your notes in check. If you need to use notes, be subtle and do not read your speech.

Phrases to Avoid on Stage

Assumptions may alienate audience members.

  •         We’ve all seen / heard / done . . .
  •         As you undoubtedly know . . .
  •         As everyone knows

You should avoid these kinds of phrases because maybe I don’t know / haven’t heard / didn’t realize. By presuming, maybe you’ve just unintentionally alienated me.


Instead of presuming, say:

  •         Perhaps you’ve seen …
  •         As you may know …

In obvious situations, we can presume that everyone in the audience knows the point we are making.

  •         As you know, sleep is a basic human need …
  •         As we know, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west …

But, if the situation is obvious, dispense with superfluous phrases.  Anchor your metaphors and analogies:

  •         Titanic is a story about the only voyage of a fated ship . . .
  •         Have you ever wondered why we need to sleep every day?

-Summarized from an article in May 2017 Toastmaster magazine by blogger John Zimmer ( 

You can learn more about telling your stories at a Project Management Toastmasters Club! Project Management Toastmasters clubs are open to all, but members are predominately professional project managers. Houston Area Project Management Toastmasters Clubs are sponsored by PMI® Houston and aligned with the goals of PMI® International.   Certified PMPs receive Professional Development Units (PDUs) for participation.   

Visit a meeting to discover the benefits of membership!

Opinion: Staying Flexible as a Project Manager

Posted by amc on 05/30/2017 2:39 pm  /   Professional Interest

By Thomas Goebel, Volunteer Content Writer


“Meet the new boss.

  Same as the old boss.” 

- Pete Townshend





The world of Project Management has seen ups and downs in Houston over the last few years.  The Oil & Gas industry tanked, taking quite a few project managers down with it.  What would seem to be a fairly translatable occupation has turned out for many practitioners to be otherwise, as executives in other industries may not see how project managers from the energy industries can use their knowledge and skills to adapt to new surroundings and conditions.  A work transition timeframe thought to last a few months often becomes a year and more.

Maintaining Project Management Chops

Project managers have always struggled with the need to remain adaptable.  By its very nature, project management is a job that can change dramatically every few months.  Practitioners are asked to manage multiple disciplines – even jump industries.   Through it all, core project management practices remain steadfast.  Dedication to these principles enables PMs to weather the storms of economic downturn.  Determination to push their boundaries gives PMs purpose and helps them adjust.

How do project managers adjust to cyclical and not-so-cyclical sea changes?  First, it is essential to keep project management skills current.  Some long-time project managers in transition have used their newfound free time to earn a CAPM®, PMP®, or other certification.  Those who are already certified pursue Professional Development Units (PDUs) to keep their certification up-to-date.  PDUs can be earned through various means – extra training/classes, creating project management-related content, working as a practitioner, and volunteering. 


The Oil & Gas industry spans many disciplines, from engineering, finance, and support (administrative, sales, and IT) to business development.  It’s axiomatic that every single role in the industry carries with it some degree of business development, but true business development is its own science, with a dollop of art thrown in for good measure.  Covering sales, accounting, data analysis, risk management, bidding, and contract negotiation, business development is fertile ground for engineering-based project managers to round out their experience and increase their marketability and value to potential employers.  Displaced project managers are finding that sales and marketing roles – even in unrelated industries – are adding depth to their resumes.

An organization in Houston called “Pay-it-Forward Networking Programs” is helping many people by offering training seminars and workshops in various areas for Oil & Gas professionals in transition.  Many of these classes are engineering-related, giving project managers the opportunity to increase their understanding of reservoir, drilling, and completion engineering.  Members who have specialized in well construction are even reaching further afield to learn about seismic and production technologies.  In addition, pursuits like small business startup and grant-writing are also covered.


Providing services pro bono offers many project management professionals an opportunity to acquire new skills while making a positive impact in their community.  The Pay-it-Forward Networking group mentioned previously is a great example.  Leadership is comprised solely of volunteers, who say it is a satisfying and rewarding experience.  They are gaining valuable insights while helping their fellow members-in-transition.  Other volunteer opportunities with charities and non-profits await.  Often, such an opportunity can lead to a paid position or pursuit of a new passion.  What a great way to embark on a new life!


Even as the Oil & Gas market in Houston begins its slow march toward recovery, the same qualities that make project managers resilient and adaptable in projects allow them to reach outside their comfort zones in search of new markets and industries to conquer.  And as they’ve learned to do in projects they’ve worked on, they learn to learn.