Project Managers in Boulder Mentoring Group

Jason Sperling, Former Senior Digital Strategist

Article Category: #News & Culture

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Confession: I’ve got Meetup jealousy. There are gobs of Meetups for developers, designers and even marketers. In Boulder, there’s an average of 2.35 Ruby on Rails Meetups per developer*. But for Project Managers working in our industry? Feels like Meetups zero. Now that’s just something that must change.

Thinking back to my early days as a Project Manager in the client-services business, I would have loved to have tapped into a tribe of PMs to glean wisdom from the elders and get special potions from the medicine man. So, I’ve started to prototype this idea along with a couple of other locals.

Here’s the concept:

PM Mix UP (working title)

We want a high-frequency event that allows us to really get to know each other. We’ll share current and ongoing challenges and solutions. We plan to meet monthly for lunch downtown.

Strong Community
We want to build a community with deep roots that will be sustainable over years. To accomplish this, we are starting with a small group and growing slowly. This will allow us to develop an intimate nucleus of trust and expand from there.

Wisdom Transfer
Our initial crew is pretty senior, but we’re all still learning. We want a forum where we can share our experiences and what we’ve learned to help each other (cue British accent) raise, raise, raise the bar. Ultimately, we’ll include a wide range of silverbacks and newbies. We’re looking at ways to best share information during our lunches as well as asynchronously.

Valuable Insight
Some of the key questions we’ll likely cover in our meetings:

  • What tools are useful in managing resources, budgets, and project plans?
  • What is the best approach for time management when juggling multiple projects?
  • How do different pricing models impact management strategy?
  • What have you found effective in navigating diverse personalities and work styles of internal and client teams?
  • How do you delegate and manage internal communications?
  • When all else fails, what strategies have proven valuable in keeping the project on track?

Our First Iteration
In April, 2012, we tried the first PM Mix UP. Stephanie Loring, Client Services Director at Imulus, Paul Knipe, Senior Account Manager at Vermillion, and I met at Shine. Everyone was very appreciative of the idea and enthusiastic about working together to develop a resource for our industry and peers. Our conversation naturally drifted to a discussion about different budgeting tools, pricing models (Time and Materials versus Fixed Bid), and tactics we’ve used to keep a project on track. We all do things a little differently and discovered some great insights!

Our Next Iteration
We’ve got another lunch planned and I’m looking forward to it. During this one, we’ll continue to refine the PM Mix UP model. We’re not sure what that will look like, but we’re excited.

Spreading the Love
Melissa Robison, Senior Project Manager at Viget in our Falls Church, VA, office heard about the PM Mix UP idea and was inspired to do something similar. She has recruited a number of PMs to date and will be scheduling her first meeting in a few weeks! Reach out to her if you are interested in being involved.

Other Resources

  • Are you a local Product Manager? Check out Boulder Product Meetup - a networking group where you can connect with other Product Managers in Boulder.
  • If you’re a Project Manager working in web/software development for a client-services business and you’re interested in joining us for lunch one of these months -- drop me a line.
  • Love this idea, but aren’t local to Boulder or in the DC area? Why not copy me and start a PM Mix UP in your home city? Just be sure to let us know how it goes and what you learn.

*Ok, I made that up, but it seems accurate.

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