As the Senior New Business Representative at PG&E, Certificate Program in Project Management graduate Kate St. Amour manages new commercial business and residential developments for gas and electric service in one of the busiest divisions in the company's service territory. From inception to completion, a project is her sole responsibility, acting as the main point of contact for the customer.
St. Amour breaks it down: "I receive the application for work requested or service desired; ensure all documentation and data are obtained for the job to be engineered and estimated; create contracts; track scheduling; meet onsite with contractors, developers, inspectors, crew, city officials–all sorts of stakeholders. I also need to be aware of, be on the lookout for and inform my applicant and crews of potential risks to schedule or safety. It's my job to communicate frequently and accurately, provide realistic dates, and give excellent customer service to both my internal and external customers."
The soft skills of project management run in St. Amour's blood: She loves working with people to find resolutions to challenges and removing obstacles to make their jobs run smoothly. "More than anything," she adds, "I see it as another opportunity to help people through what can often be a daunting process."
To say my instructors were fantastic at their jobs in teaching, and as people, is wholly true.
It was those hard skills needed to navigate that process that St. Amour felt were lacking. After being out of the formal workforce for five years as a stay-at-home mom prior to coming to Extension, St. Amour wanted to increase her self-confidence in not only getting back into the workforce, but also gaining the formal education and tools to be an effective project manager. Jump-starting her tool-acquisition journey with Project Scope and Quality Management and Project Schedule and Risk Management, St. Amour opted to expand her knowledge by completing the complementary Project Human Resource Management professional sequence.
A year-and-a-half after completing both programs, St. Amour continues to put her Extension experience–both professionally and personally–to action. In fact, when we touched base with St. Amour, she had just had lunch with two of her classmates and stopped by to see another. "I've become friends with these people," she adds. "Because we're all professional working adults, we were serious about school, as well as about real connections with people who, though very different, have similar passions. I've also kept in touch with a couple of my instructors who continue to give me input even on general life projects and situations. To say my instructors were fantastic at their jobs in teaching, and as people, is wholly true."
Great project managers are more in demand as their value is recognized by more and more organizations.
At work, lessons learned at Extension continue to drive her forward as a successful project manager. For example, she's currently dealing with a process issue and the risk management course helped her to define both the positive and negative risks. "Before this course, I didn't know risks could be positive," she says. "This is the beginning of helping us resolve a potentially very serious problem.
"Having taken the courses," she continues, "I put into practice what I learned and use those tools to help the projects go smoother by navigating this utility course on behalf of my applicant, help them where they are lacking in knowledge, and further refine my own tools and expertise as I learn from others and hands-on experience. It doesn't hurt my credibility to have passed the PMI exam and put PMP® next to my name–especially as a woman in a male-dominated field and at a time when great project managers are more in demand as their value is recognized by more and more organizations."