Careers: Interviews
Widely Respected and Noted Business Information Technology Authority, Project Management Expert, Author, Consultant

This week, Stephen Ibaraki, I.S.P., has an exclusive interview with Gregory Horine, a certified (PMP, CCP) business technology professional with more than fifteen years of consulting experience across multiple industries. 

 

His primary areas of professional expertise include:

Project management and leadership

Software development

Enterprise solution development

Data analysis and transformation

Quality assurance and validation

Business systems analysis

Package implementation and integration

 

In addition, Mr. Horine holds a Master’s degree in Computer Science from Ball State University, and a Bachelor’s degree in both Marketing and Computer Science from Anderson College.

 

Through his “servant leadership” approach, Mr. Horine has established a track record of empowering his teammates, improving project communications, overcoming technical and political obstacles, and successfully completing projects that meet the targeted objectives.

 

Discussion:

 

Q: Greg, you are widely regarded for your expertise. We appreciate you taking the time out of your demanding schedule to speak with us.

 

A: I’ll take your word on the first part. I am thankful for this opportunity to share more about our new book.

 

Q: You have a remarkable and varied history as detailed in the introduction. Can you share your most valuable lessons and challenges?

 

A: -Technology really has not changed that much in 20 years. The fundamentals are still the same.

- The ability to effectively explain how technology can help solve problems is still uncommon and highly valued by most organizations.

- There’s a difference between project management and project leadership. It’s still challenging to find individuals who can do both effectively.

- Methodology, process and tools are important, but without quality “people” it’s very difficult to complete a project successfully.

- “Effective listening” is the most important tool to project manager.

- A “servant leadership” approach to project management gives you the best chance of doing the right work, the right way for the right people.

- Always keep your “eye on the ball” (i.e, the project goals and objectives). There are many ways to accomplish a given objective. Especially important to remember when “things” don’t go as planned.

-One secret to effective project management is balancing your “passion” to completing the project objectives with a healthy “detached” perspective.

- Another secret to effective project management is a “healthy paranoia”…assume nothing, question everything.

- Understand the “context” of your project…the priority that your project has among the organization’s portfolio of projects and how it aligns with the overall goals of the organization.

 

Q: Describe the services provided in your consulting and where you see your consulting proceeding in the future?

 

A: Fundamentally, our consulting services are focused on helping organizations to use technology and process to achieve their business goals. Specifically, most of our project experiences are in Peoplesoft implementations, extranet application development, project management consulting, network security and business process improvement. I expect our consulting services to have the same focus for the immediate future too.

 

Q: What is the current and future market status of certification for project management professionals?

 

A: Both the current and the future market status of project management certification is bright. As “business” continues to become more “project-driven” due to global competition, ROI demands and proper use of resources, the demand for competent project management professionals will continue to grow. Certifications, like the PMP, offer organizations an added-level of security when hiring or procuring project management professionals.

 

Q: Could you share your study recommendations with our audience?

 

A: Of course, the first recommendation is to buy the “PMP Exam Cram2” book and read all of the study recommendations in Chapter 1, pages 5-7. Personally, my key study recommendation is to find good practice exam questions and “drill, drill, drill”. This approach will identify your knowledge gaps quickly and help focus your study efforts the best. Did I mention that the PMP Exam Cram 2 book is loaded with excellent practice exam questions?

 

Q: Please detail the PMI views of project management?

 

A: In Chapter 1, pages 14-16 of our PMP Exam Cram 2 book, your audience will find a complete summary of the PMI views of project management, including key PMI assumptions, and a summary of the common gaps that most project managers have with the PMI view…especially IT project management professionals.

 

Q: Could you provide tips on initiating projects?

 

A: Initiating projects is really a function of the “organization”. A project should be prioritized and aligned with the goals of the organization by those individuals controlling the organization’s budget(s).

 

Specifically, for a project manager, the project needs to have a single project sponsor who can properly champion the project to the rest of the organization.

 

Q: Tell us more about core and facilitating processes for planning projects.

 

A: Twenty-one (21) of the 39 project management processes defined by PMI are “project planning” processes. This is a key indicator to the level of importance that PMI places on “project planning” and to the scope of the “project planning” activity. The “core” processes are those that need to be executed in certain sequence. While the “facilitating” planning processes can vary in their execution sequence and are often done in parallel with each other.

 

PMI tends to “over-complicate” this process group, but our PMP Exam Cram 2 book does an excellent job in “translating” their descriptions.

 

Q: How about PMI Professional Responsibility standards?

 

A: In summary, “do the right thing”. I think our Professional Responsibility Summary table 9.1, on page 203 in Chapter 9 does an excellent job of clarifying the pertinent PMI points of Professional Responsibility.

 

Q: Give your top tips for exam success.

 

A: In Chapter 1, pages 7-10, your audience will find a complete listing of all of our tips for exam success, but here are my key pointers.

1) Do a gap analysis on your understanding of PM processes and terms against PMI’s definitions.

2) Understand the PMI perspective, terminology and assumptions.

3) Understand the type of questions you will see on the exam.

4) Drill, drill, drill on excellent practice exam questions.

5) Understand the principles being applied to the correct response. It will be far more important to understand the concept/principle than the actual question on the PMP exam.

6) When taking the test, use the ability to “mark” questions to iterate through the questions that you are not certain about.

 

Q: What are the gaps between real-world projects and PMI expectations?

 

A: This was one of the points we emphasized in our PMP Exam Cram 2 book, especially for IT project management professionals. A complete description of the common gaps are found in Chapter 1, pages 10-16. In summary, the three key common gaps are:

1) Terminology

2) Understanding of the PM role

3) Scope of project management

 

Q: If you had to choose one, which is more important, certification or a college degree?

 

A: College degree is more important. A good college experience will teach you “how to think”, and it will teach you the technical and process fundamentals. With these abilities and this knowledge, you can quickly learn new technologies and apply your experiences and skills to many different situations.

 

Q: On a related note, which is more important, certification or experience?

 

A: As a generalization, I would take “experience” over “certification”. However, as a hiring agent, I want both. As a hiring agent, I really want a track record of success.

 

Q: You have such a rich background in IT. Based upon your years of experience, education and training, describe what you consider to be important technologies, their pros and cons, trends and any recommendations?

 

A: The most important technologies and trends:

- The growing importance of project and portfolio management within organizations.

- The ever-increasing integration of technology management with business management.

- The merging of biology with computers.

- The movement of IT services to India and China.

- The increasing need for “business technologists” within organizations.

- The continuing importance of systems and applications integration within and between organizations.

- The increasing movement to outsource all non-core business activities. More and more people will become contract, independent professionals.

- The growing importance of “adaptability” and “learning new things quickly”.

- The growing merger of work and family life and finding ways to properly balance the two.

- The growing understanding that “data” is the key.

- The continuing integration and miniaturization of digital technologies.

- The natural conflict between using technology to prevent terrorist acts and guaranteeing personal privacy.

- The increasing importance and value on process and quality maturity within organizations.

- Nanotechnology.

- Wireless technology.

- Voice recognition interfaces.

- The increasing use of biometrics to ensuring secure digital transactions.

- Fuel cells.

 

Q: What about vendors—where is the market going and who are the winners and losers?

 

A:  Well, I’d say we are at the tail end of the consolidation period for IT vendors. There may be some additional consolidation, but I think you see the winners now.

 

Q: What are your top recommended resources for both businesses and IT professionals?

 

A: My favorites are audio monthly summaries of the best business and technology news that I can listen to while I commute. Currently, I subscribe to Business Briefings from Audio-Tech.

 

Q: Can you make a prediction about the next “killer app”?

 

A: There are many exciting R&D applications already underway in the nanotechnology, military and life sciences industries. I’m excited about the future.

 

Q: What kind of computer setup do you have?

 

A: HP Pavilion 540n Pentium III running Windows XP at home that I share with my wife and 5 kids. The cable modem connection to the Internet is a god-send. Also, the CD and DVD drives take a beating. At work, I have a DELL Latitude Pentium III laptop running Windows 2000.

 

Q: If you had to do it all over again...?

 

A: I’d be in the medical profession. It’s the same fundamental skill set I use now, and I’d earn more money.

 

Q: Any comments from your wife Mayme?

 

A: Greg and I make a great team. The extra money from the book helps to cover the expenses associated with the special needs of our children, and he gets to advise my project management skills every day, as I manage the lives of our family and 5 children.

 

Q: What drives you to do what you do?

 

A: Currently, my 1993 Honda Accord with 215,000 miles, and my Chevy Express 15 seat passenger van for the family (5 kids), but I don’t think is what you were after.

 

Q: Greg, thank you again for your time, and consideration in doing this interview.

 

A: No problem. Thank you for your interest and for the opportunity to share more about our book.

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