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

Healthcare is increasingly using big data and artificial intelligence to track, monitor, and contain infectious diseases. In this webinar, we review the roles they play in tracking, monitoring, and containing COVID-19.

Join Dr. Siamak Zadeh of GGU on July 14 for this engaging conversation on this vital and relevant topic. ow.ly/wYIv50AumEF
... See MoreSee Less

Healthcare is increasingly using big data and artificial intelligence to track, monitor, and contain infectious diseases. In this webinar, we review the roles they play in tracking, monitoring, and containing COVID-19.

Join Dr. Siamak Zadeh of GGU on July 14 for this engaging conversation on this vital and relevant topic. http://ow.ly/wYIv50AumEF

Here's why Ruth Reed is earning her BA in Organizational Leadership and Human Skills Development at GGU.

"I'm 37 years old and never finished college. I reached a point in my life when I realized I really wanted to earn my bachelor's degree. I chose GGU because the program is fully online and I can work and go to school. What I didn't expect is how much the Organizational Leadership program would resonate with what I do in my job currently. I've gained conflict management skills that I use when I interview candidates, hire, and give correctives. I've also gained tools to understand challenges companies face with low-retention and high-turnover. At work, I strive to do my best and support my team and this program benefits and supports those values."

GGU's fall term will be 100% online. Learn more about the Organizational Leadership and Human Skills Development program today: ow.ly/aK0k50AucR6
... See MoreSee Less

Heres why Ruth Reed is earning her BA in Organizational Leadership and Human Skills Development at GGU.

Im 37 years old and never finished college. I reached a point in my life when I realized I really wanted to earn my bachelors degree. I chose GGU because the program is fully online and I can work and go to school. What I didnt expect is how much the Organizational Leadership program would resonate with what I do in my  job currently. Ive gained conflict management skills that I use when I interview candidates, hire, and give correctives. Ive also gained tools to understand challenges companies face with low-retention and high-turnover. At work, I strive to do my best and support my team and this program benefits and supports those values.

GGUs fall term will be 100% online. Learn more about the Organizational Leadership and Human Skills Development program today: http://ow.ly/aK0k50AucR6

Tune in today at 2 PM for the "A/B Testing - Expertise Talk" facilitated by our student leaders at BnDA Club featuring Valeria Kroll from the Digital Analytics Association. You can still pre-register at: tinyurl.com/ABTestingGGU ... See MoreSee Less

Tune in today at 2 PM for the A/B Testing - Expertise Talk facilitated by our student leaders at BnDA Club featuring Valeria Kroll from the Digital Analytics Association. You can still pre-register at: http://tinyurl.com/ABTestingGGU
Load more