Project Management Career Boost

Certificate graduate Hazel Johanson prepares for a competitive workforce

Certificate Program in Project Management graduate Hazel Johanson is no stranger to managing project schedules.

Just take a look at this summary of her résumé:

  • Developed, maintained and controlled an integrated master schedule using Primavera software for Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. (Japan).
  • Integrated and analyzed schedules from various contractors, vendors and clients into an integrated project schedule at JGC Corporation (Japan).
  • Generated reports using the Primavera software and created Critical Path Analysis, an overall schedule and lookaheads.
  • Assigned schedule contingency using Monte Carlo simulation.
  • Transferred project scheduling skills to biotech industry at Genentech (United States).
  • Controlled projects using the Last Planner® System.
  • Develops and controls the program-level schedule (baselines and current schedules) as a consultant for Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) under M Lee Corporation.

With our certificate, Hazel is rounding out her skill set. From planning and initiation, to scope and risk management, she is learning—and loving—how her role as a scheduler fits into the process and a project’s success.

“Project management to me is this all-encompassing umbrella, and scheduling is just one part of the many areas that it covers.”

Small-Town Beginnings

Hazel grew up in a small village in Mabini, Bohol (Philippines), which is about 500 miles away from the capital of Manila. Her educational journey began when she passed the scholarship exam under the Department of Science and Technology, which allowed her to attend the University of San Carlos (Cebu, Philippines). There, she earned a B.S. in industrial engineering.

One of her first jobs was at Dash Engineering, a subsidiary of Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co. Ltd., where she was part of the project control team. That company then sent Hazel to the company’s headquarters in Japan for training in project control—specifically, in scheduling.

“I did not know that ‘project management’ existed,” Hazel recalls. “It was an eye-opener. Having an industrial engineering background was a big help. Industrial engineers are into making processes better, and project management plays a big factor in the processes.”

The World Doesn’t Stand Still

In 2010, Hazel moved to the U.S. and took a hiatus from working to raise her kids. Six years later, she decided to rejoin the workforce.

On advice from a family friend, Hazel realized she needed to update her skill set after her career break in order to be competitive.

“My greatest fear was that I had totally forgotten how to do my job,” explains Hazel.

“Before, I had only heard of the PMP® Exam and had intended to study the PMBOK® before my hiatus, but I just did not have the time to do it when I stopped working,” Hazel continues. “I wanted to learn under an institution proven to produce great products. I looked up several options and liked the Certificate Program in Project Management best because of its reputation—I was familiar with UC Berkeley even before I migrated here—and the way the courses are structured. I wanted to know the nuts and bolts, how the threads are woven together to create a wonderful tapestry.

“The instructors not only know their stuff but also have lived what they are talking about. Having that real-life experience, to me, was key.”

“Project management to me is this all-encompassing umbrella and scheduling is just one part of the many areas that it covers. For example, I wanted to learn more about cost management, in particular, because I haven’t been exposed to it as much. I will be an even more effective scheduler if I know the whole of project management.”

Developing Her Portfolio

“I had some apprehension at first when I started working on this certificate: I felt like I was too old to start something, and getting my brain to work and expand my horizons was like pulling teeth,” Hazel admits. “It’s nice to see people in my class who are on a similar journey as me. Being with other professionals who are after the same thing is a novel experience. The sharing of knowledge, to me, has been unforgettable.

“The instructors not only know their stuff but have also have lived what they are talking about. Having that real-life experience, to me, was key.”

Two instructors, in particular, have stood out to Hazel.

Helena Weiss-Duman: “She made the Project Management class very interactive. I was impressed by the level of professionalism she exhibited. It was a fun learning experience. It made me look forward to more courses in the program.”

Program director and instructor Timothy Bombosch:Project Execution and Control was my first online class. I learned so much, and it made me open to other forms of learning.”

Not only did she get a holistic understanding of each project management process, but Hazel also got a boost of confidence she didn’t realize she needed.

“The program has given me what I needed to be brave and face any challenges in my career,” Hazel enthuses. “This certificate program has taught me how to be a great project manager. I am looking forward to applying the knowledge I’ve gained from this experience. I now can see myself managing my own projects as a project manager in the not-too-distant future. I am also planning to finally take the PMP® Exam within the next two years.”

And she’s taking this newfound knowledge to her current role as a consultant for BART, where she’s working on program-level scheduling for 194-plus projects under the Maintenance and Engineering department.

“Project data is collected through a series of schedule review meetings with several project managers,” Hazel details. “We then calculate variances from baseline to current schedule and track reasons for any schedule changes. We also provide detailed scheduling support as needed. I am now leading the effort, as a consultant, to create standardized schedule management procedures.”

Sound Advice for a Competitive Job Market

“It’s never too late to learn,” expresses Hazel. “You might think you know everything there is to know about project management, but you’ll be surprised at how much you actually don’t know. I came into the Project Schedule and Risk Management class overly confident that I already knew all there is to know about scheduling; I was proven wrong! I had to work just as hard as everybody else.

“I’ve been a scheduler and planner for approximately 10 years, and even though I do it for a living, I still have more to learn. Learning is a living thing; it doesn’t stop after graduation.”