Success Stories
Marie Spark faculty profile image
LINKEDIN
Photo credit: Lorena De Benedittis
November 23, 2019 |
:::

Creativity and Problem-Solving Combine in Project Management Career

Marie Spark wanted to be a journalist. Then she discovered that what she loved doing—creative problem-solving and coordinating logistics—was project management.

By Jenny McKeel
:::

Lecturer and Project Management program director Marie Spark loves preparing students for an industry experiencing surging growth. By 2020, it’s anticipated that 11 million project management jobs will be added by the United States and its 10 major trading partners. Marie’s classes emphasize hands-on, situational application of theory. The technical knowledge and advanced communication skills students gain makes all the difference on-the-job.

Marie’s own professional path started at UC Berkeley, where she majored in Rhetoric and minored in French. She couldn’t have predicted the career that followed. As Steve Jobs said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.”

From NPR to MBA

After discovering a passion for journalism, Marie landed an internship with NPR that, she later realized, was her first project management role. She loved tracking down information and coordinating studio interviews, but decided against a career in radio where job prospects were low.

Participants at the Project Management Institute's Leadership Institute Meeting
Project managers at the Leadership Institute Meeting
Project managers from around the world gather at the Leadership Institute Meeting

At the Leadership Institute Meeting, participants promote their local project management communities

Participants commemorate PMI's 50th anniversary

Project managers collaborate at the Leadership Institute Meeting

previous arrowprevious arrow
next arrownext arrow
Shadow
Slider

She went back to school for her MBA and discovered the project management field—a mix of creative problem-solving and detail orientation that was an immediate fit. She took a consulting position with IBM and learned IT project management on-the-job before moving to Bank of America in IT project management.

“My strengths,” said Marie, “are that I dive into learning things and I’m not afraid to ask questions. I’m good at understanding complex concepts and explaining them. That’s a lot of what it takes to be a project manager.”

Six Sigma Certification

At Bank of America, Marie received Black Belt certification in Six Sigma, a set of tools for improving processes, products, and services. She also coached people pursuing Green Belt certification. When Marie was laid off from B of A, she seized the opportunity for growth and realized coaching others was what she loved most.

“I volunteered with the Project Management Institute’s San Francisco chapter in a leadership role—an amazing opportunity,” said Marie. “Through contacts I eventually was offered a teaching position at Golden Gate University. There’s tremendous value in volunteering with professional organizations and putting yourself out there because you never know where things will end up.”

Leadership and Problem-Solving Skills

Today, Marie equips students with crucial leadership and problem-solving skills like negotiation, motivation, and conflict resolution.

“There used to be the idea that project management is administrative overhead,” said Marie. “Today, companies are realizing that project management provides a structure that gives you the freedom to create change. Any business you can think of is going through massive transformation and in order to change effectively you need to understand how to manage projects. That’s why it’s exciting to be in project management.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons

“It’s a tremendous opportunity to train working professionals in the Bay Area who are involved in a dynamic, diverse global economy and that’s what I love the most about teaching at GGU part-time. We have a great institution with a legacy of training working professionals and I believe in what GGU does." - Christian Teeter, leadership and international business instructor in the School of Undergraduate Studies ... See MoreSee Less

“It’s a tremendous opportunity to train working professionals in the Bay Area who are involved in a dynamic, diverse global economy and that’s what I love the most about teaching at GGU part-time. We have a great institution with a legacy of training working professionals and I believe in what GGU does. - Christian Teeter, leadership and international business instructor in the School of Undergraduate Studies

GGU is committed to serving our military veteran students. That's why we're proud to announce a $2 million commitment of support from The Helen Diller Foundation toward an ambitious initiative that will provide robust support for veterans along their entire educational pathway. Among other things, the grant will fund the establishment of a Veteran’s Center that will focus on academic, social and career success.

Learn more here: ow.ly/pUB550BzGQb
... See MoreSee Less

GGU is committed to serving our military veteran students. Thats why were proud to announce a $2 million commitment of support from The Helen Diller Foundation toward an ambitious initiative that will provide robust support for veterans along their entire educational pathway. Among other things, the grant will fund the establishment of a Veteran’s Center that will focus on academic, social and career success. 

Learn more here: http://ow.ly/pUB550BzGQb

The San Francisco Business Times reports that COVID-19 is accelerating changes that are making the MBA valuable to more diverse students. More schools are rolling out flexible and affordable programs. Women and students-of-color are opting for part-time and online programs that allow them to work, go to school, and care for their families. Experts say these trends will continue in the age of COVID-19. And among Bay Area offerings, GGU ranks in the top 10 for MBA program enrollment. 👏 🎓 ... See MoreSee Less

The San Francisco Business Times reports that COVID-19 is accelerating changes that are making the MBA valuable to more diverse students. More schools are rolling out flexible and affordable programs. Women and students-of-color are opting for part-time and online programs that allow them to work, go to school, and care for their families. Experts say these trends will continue in the age of COVID-19. And among Bay Area offerings, GGU ranks in the top 10 for MBA program enrollment. 👏  🎓

As we're reaching the end of this year's SGA Elections, our current SGA Team is hosting their last event to bring our community together. Join this event to connect with our SGA Team and enjoy the virtual fun on Zoom!
Register today: tinyurl.com/fall2020sgakickoff
... See MoreSee Less

As were reaching the end of this years SGA Elections, our current SGA Team is hosting their last event to bring our community together. Join this event to connect with our SGA Team and enjoy the virtual fun on Zoom! 
Register today: http://tinyurl.com/fall2020sgakickoff

How to Cultivate an Entrepreneurial Spirit featuring Oranee Daniels and Shannon Sutherland is TOMORROW at 10:30AM PT. Register and join our student leaders in their conversation:
tinyurl.com/wibaugust
... See MoreSee Less

How to Cultivate an Entrepreneurial Spirit featuring Oranee Daniels and Shannon Sutherland is TOMORROW at 10:30AM PT. Register and join our student leaders in their conversation:
http://tinyurl.com/wibaugust
Load more