Adding Structure to Project Management Roles

Online certificate graduate Brian Naylor brings practical skills to new PM role

Brian Naylor knows a thing or two about online retail and project management, having worked with international brands across a range of industries around the globe.

After a decade overseas, he's back in Canada—Toronto, to be specific—as a Senior Project Manager at Jasper Studios, a company that offers a Product Information Management tool to help online retailers "master their product catalog in one place and syndicate it out to multiple distribution channels," Brian explains.

"I bring clients together with our developers and partners to solve business needs, whether it's streamlining their merchandising, listing products on a new marketplace like Amazon, or setting up a new online store with BigCommerce, Magento or Shopify," Brian continues of his new role. "There are a lot of moving parts, but we have an amazing team of developers and support staff that make it happen."

Brian started his career managing retail stores like Quiksilver, Burton and The North Face for Vail Resorts, but when an opportunity arrived to move to Sydney and work with an online startup, he jumped at the offer.

Working with international brands like SurfStitch, CostumeBox and 4Cabling, Brian learned the craft of online retail and digital marketing, and soon found himself coordinating larger projects with agencies, in-house staff and remote developers regularly.


I wanted to learn the fundamentals of project management to bring more structure to my work.



"I got to a point with my career where I realized I loved the process of piecing all the work together," Brian recalls. "A friend recommended I look into getting my PMP certification from the Project Management Institute, and while researching that I came across your Certificate Program in Project Management.

"I thought it would be a good way to get the educational credits I needed to qualify for the PMP exam, and I wanted to learn the fundamentals of project management to bring more structure to my work," Brian continues. "The course descriptions sounded really interesting, so I expected to like the program, but I had never studied online—I was overseas and working at the time—so I did have some doubts."

And your thoughts now on having completed the certificate online?

It was a great experience from the start and far exceeded my expectations. The things I liked most about the program were the flexibility in class options and the interactive aspects of the coursework. I found the online courses' forums and group work were very effective in recreating the feel of being in a real classroom. It was amazing that we could discuss topics and produce group assignments across multiple time zones using conferencing tools and email.

I got to work with people from all over the world, many working in project-management jobs for big companies or startups. I made connections with classmates and instructors, whom I'm still in touch with. I recently saw one of my instructors speak at a Project Management Institute event in Australia, which was cool.


The day you stop learning is the day you stop moving forward.



How have you seen the curriculum impact your work?

I found it very motivating to learn things in class and apply them to projects at work. Not only did it help me to reinforce what I was learning, but it improved the quality of the work I was producing. I'd often use situations at work in my class conversations to solicit feedback from classmates and instructors. The quality of information I received was amazing and really helped me move projects along.

The certificate has helped me stay current in a fast-paced industry, helped me to transition into a new field and helped me to become more successful in my job. Employers are looking for people who can draw from broad experience to solve complex issues, and being known as an inquisitive person who continues to learn new skills shows that I am committed to adding value at work.

The day you stop learning is the day you stop moving forward.

I've actually been looking at Agile project management courses recently, as well as some data analytics classes. There are always interesting classes available and I'll likely enroll in something once I'm settled into the new job.


The certificate has been the catalyst to some really positive changes in my life.



What does earning the certificate mean for you personally and professionally?

Personally, the certificate has been the catalyst to some really positive changes in my life. It gave me the ability to feel like I was in control of my career decisions, and opened up some amazing opportunities.

Professionally, it shows employers and my industry that I value continuous learning and investing in my future.

What advice would you give someone who is thinking about starting the Project Management certificate?

Just get started—the details will work themselves out.

I was worried I'd be taking on too much and wouldn't have the time to give it my full attention, but you'll be amazed at how quickly you focus your energy and stop wasting time on passive and unproductive things in your day. If you've got time to watch a couple of shows on NetFlix or browse YouTube every night, you have time to learn something new and get yourself a certificate that will help your career and improve your earning potential.

And if you’re wondering about the PMP? Brian passed the PMP Exam just six months after completing the project management certificate—congrats, Brian!