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New program helps project managers develop leadership skills

February 25, 2016

Debra Wutke (VP of PMI Manitoba chapter, and Program Manager of Business and Management of the School of Continuing Education) and Juanita Desouza-Huletey (Manager of Application Services for the Workers Compensations Board and a RRC instructor)

The nature of education is such that it must constantly evolve to meet ever-changing needs. Red River College’s newest program, the Advanced Certificate in Project Leadership, aims to take the already successful Project Management program to the next level.

“More and more credentials are being sought to recognize or benchmark people’s experience and knowledge in the field, and that demand is coming from industry,” says Debra Wutke, Vice-President of the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) Manitoba chapter, and Program Manager of Business and Management for RRC’s School of Continuing Education.

As Wutke explains, most people don’t start out as project managers, but gradually take on project management roles over the course of their careers. RRC’s Project Management program can help people learn to manage projects at any stage (and in any business), but project management is only one piece of an organization’s pie.

“When you get a certificate in Program Management, you’re more at the working level. Now we need people who [can] step up to take that leadership role,” says Juanita Desouza-Huletey, Manager of Application Services for the Workers Compensations Board, and an instructor at RRC.

The College’s Project Leadership program is designed to help those looking for the skills required by senior-level positions such as director, executive or vice-president. These are roles that require “skills that are more enterprise-wide, such as the ability to oversee more than just project management, but also program management and the associated intricacies of leadership and corporate accountability,” says Kirk Johnson, Director of Programming for Continuing Education.

“What [changes] across the spectrum [of jobs in project management] is the level of authority and power that the project manager has. It really amounts to who is making the decisions and who’s enforcing the decisions,” adds Wally Peech, outgoing Chair of the Project Management program’s Advisory Committee.

Launching this spring, the Project Leadership program will provide an overview of methodologies for leading projects while dealing with issues that are common across all industries, such as change management and risk management. One of the benefits of the program is that it prepares students to take or challenge the PMI’s international certification exams.

“A PMP® (Project Management Professional designation) on your resume moves you to the shortlist,” explains Wutke. “Project Management training and knowledge is the icing on the cake. It makes you a best choice in competition because you bring not only your expertise in the field, but [also] that suite of tools and techniques and the knowledge to be able to deliver. At the end of the day, that’s really what organizations are looking for: defining what that project is, and then being able to deliver it on-time and on-budget and on-requirement.”

Not only does the PMP® designation add value to a resume, it also allows a project management professional to have their accreditation recognized worldwide, opening doors to working internationally.

It also works the other way: for newcomers to Canada who are established professionals in their home countries, the Project Leadership program can be the key to gaining the experience required for breaking into the Canadian market.

Desouza-Huletey, an immigrant herself, explains: “There are a lot of people that I know that would benefit from this because they have the experience, they just need that Canadian experience. So having that leadership program, in terms of the courses that are being offered, is a perfect fit, [allowing] them to come in, take the course, and then get their experience and get into market right away, and be very successful.”

Although success isn’t measured in dollars, project management can lead to a lucrative career, and project leadership even moreso. A quick scan of job openings with project manager in the title returns over 800 hits on job website CareerJet, with salaries ranging from $60,000 to $100,000 annually.

The Project Leadership program is a part-time Continuing Education program comprised of nine courses and a practicum or Capstone Project (a case study that mirrors actual industry situations). It can be completed online or in-class, and usually takes about two years to complete. As with all RRC programs, it’s taught by industry leaders with real-world experience. The prerequisite is a certificate in Project Management, or equivalent experience.

For more information, visit rrc.ca/lead.

— Profile by Kristin Marand (Creative Communication, 2004)

PMP and PMI are registered markings of the Project Management Institute.