Changing careers can be daunting and difficult, but Matt Betker definitely made the right decision.
A long-time software developer, Betker saw his consultant position at Manitoba Public Insurance slowly turning into a leadership role. He decided to go with the flow and in 2018 he graduated from Red River College’s Project Management certificate program.
A few months later, Betker earned Project Management Professional certification from the Project Management Institute.
Now, he’s working as a project manager at MPI and is currently enrolled in RRC’s Project Leadership program.
“I switched from a consultant to an employee and changed job roles and careers at the same time. It worked out well for me,” says Betker, 39.
Did it ever. In April, Betker was named the winner of the top student award at PMI Manitoba’s annual spring conference. The honour comes with a $1,000 cash prize courtesy of PMI Manitoba and RRC.
Betker graduated from the Project Management program with a 4.5 grade point average; according to his instructors, he was always willing to help others and consistently engaged himself in class discussions.
“One of the things I liked about the program was there was a lot of open discussion,” Betker says. “Not always discussion amongst the whole class, but the instructors would have us break into smaller groups, and a lot of times I ended up facilitating conversation for the groups I was in. In those groups I would throw out a lot of questions that would lead to further discussion and try to help people frame their thoughts a little bit, without being too pushy or trying to influence them with my own bias.”
Although the Project Management program is available through distance delivery, Betker decided to take the classroom route. He’s glad he did.
“It was really cool to be in class with people who had a lot of different cultural backgrounds and different professional backgrounds,” he says. “I come from the software development industry, but there were people from pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, and a lot of people who were new to the country. It was neat to see different people’s viewpoints based on a combination of their industry experience and their cultural background.”
At MPI, Betker’s project management role is to lead the corporation’s business transformation projects. For instance, he’s currently working on government-legislated changes surrounding the issue of drinking and driving.
“There are new laws going into force in December to change the way they manage drunk drinking convictions,” he says. “Here at MPI, there’s a lot of system and procedural changes that have to happen to comply with the new legislation, so I’m leading that project. The project has a software component but it also has a people component, a financial component and a business change component.”
In addition to his academic and industry experience, Betker believes he’s picked up some project management skills on the ice and on the field. He coaches his two young children in hockey and baseball and formerly coached teenage hockey players at the AAA level.
“That was a good forum to hone your communication skills and think about who you are speaking to and how you’re speaking to them,” says Betker, who also sits on the board of directors for Gateway Recreation Centre.
“I started coaching my kids, who are six and four, and it’s the other end of the spectrum, but it’s still communication, having fun and team culture. A lot of that transfers really well to a school atmosphere or a workplace.”
Betker will further his hone his project management skills in the Project Leadership program this fall. An advanced certificate program, Betker hopes to build on what he learned in Project Management.
“There is a course in the Project Leadership program called Organizational Change Management, which is a big thing in large corporations like MPI. That’s an area that’s completely new to me that I’m learning on the job here,” he says.
“To have more academic context to what is going on will really help me. The Project Leadership program goes a lot deeper into various methodologies and approaches to doing projects. It’s just a deeper dive into certain areas of project management that are really pertinent to what you’ll do when you’re out in the workforce.”
Profile by Jared Story (Creative Communications, 2005)
Photography by Lindsay Rowan (Professional Photography, 2012)