Building a PMO From Scratch

Certificate Program in Project Management graduate Sandra Lew introduces PM best practices to gaming giant

Photo of Sandra Lew

Ensuring that a conference is successful isn't just about getting the word out to fill seats. It's also not just about putting together a series of panels or events to draw in the crowd.

There is a lot of behind-the-scenes maneuvering to make sure that the conference is a hit. And that’s exactly what Sandra Lew discovered as a senior marketing manager at UBM Tech Game Network, which hosts conferences for videogame professionals. At each phase of her marketing plan, a dose of project management was necessary to keep the wheels running.


"I continually found myself drawn to project management," Lew remembers, "which was a common underlying element of each of my roles."

Enjoying the project management aspect of her work, Lew embarked on a planned career shift into the field. Armed with on-the-job learning of the ins and outs of project management, Lew wanted a more formal education to support this transition and to pursue Project Management Institute's (PMI®) certification. "I was interested in learning not only the fundamentals and lexicon of project management but also how to apply different project management methodologies to an organization," she says.


A graduate of the Certificate Program in Project Management, Lew is happily ensconced as a program manager at Ubisoft and has added the PMI® credential to her resume; the Extension certificate appealed to Lew as the curriculum integrates PMI® methodology and guidelines. In addition, instructor Lifong Liu provided Lew with mentorship in attaining this coveted credential. "In addition to walking me through the process for the PMI® application and PMP® certification test, we discussed my future in project management and how to create opportunities for myself," Lew remembers. "Her guidance helped me grow significantly as a PM."

Lessons Put to Work
  • Introducing newly updated project charter documentation within her team
  • Efficiently track new projects with stakeholders by understanding the PMI® project lifecycle
  • Deeper knowledge of stakeholder and risk management resources and methods

Today, Lew is part of a team that is building a Project Management Office from the ground up "in a part of an organization where formal project management is relatively new," Lew explains. "The specific knowledge I've gained from my project management courses has allowed me to successfully build the foundation of this group while educating those around me about project management. I've also been able to bring formalized focus into facets of project management that were not as transparent, such as requirements identification, risk analysis, stakeholder management and project closure." As building a PMO is an iterative process, Lew is entrenched in the phase of introducing standardized, foundational project management methodology and tools throughout the business unit. Expected completion date: End of 2016.


Lew is also overseeing and driving a portfolio of process improvement projects at Ubisoft, which include

  • Identifying areas of efficiency gains
  • Creating documentation of existing and optimized work streams
  • Unifying tools and knowledge across business units

But Lew's education hasn't stopped. She is currently taking Agile Management: Principles and Practices, noting that due to the continually shifting nature of project management, it's important to stay abreast of new trends and technology. "It's also important to understand all methodologies: past, present and future," she adds. "As a responsible PM practitioner, I'll continue to take classes to stay informed of latest practices, information and techniques in the field."