Success Stories
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Photo credit: Lorena De Benedittis
November 23, 2019 |
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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
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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

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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.”

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Attention new GGU Summer Term students! 📢 Join us for Student Success Orientation on Wed. 5/4. You'll get all the information you need to ensure academic success and social engagement at GGU. We'll connect you to a host of resources to help you transition successfully into the university. Register today for the Zoom link. ow.ly/o1AP50IUVUs ... See MoreSee Less

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Timeline photosDear GGU Law Community:

It is with great sadness that I write to share news of the passing of Peter Keane, who died Sunday after a long illness. Peter Keane served as Dean of Golden Gate University School of Law from 1999-2003 and later, as a much beloved classroom teacher of Constitutional Law, Criminal Procedure, Evidence Law, and Professional Responsibility. Dean Keane always said that his greatest pleasure at GGU was getting to know, teach and learn from his students.

In addition to his contributions at GGU, Dean Keane was a prominent member of the San Francisco and California legal communities. Among other distinctions, he was appointed to the San Francisco Ethics Commission and served both as President of the Bar Association of San Francisco and as Vice-President of the State Bar of California. His law reform achievements were notable, including authoring San Francisco’s Handgun Control Ordinance and California Proposition 190, which reformed the State Commission on Judicial Performance.

Drucilla Ramey, who followed Dean Keane as Dean, remembered him this way: “Peter Keane was a courageous and inspirational leader of legal academia, the broader legal community, and his own beloved San Francisco. Whether as Chief Assistant Public Defender, President of the Bar Association of San Francisco, Dean of Golden Gate Law School or Chair of the San Francisco Ethics Commission, Peter met society’s greatest challenges head on, with his characteristic intelligence, bravery, and élan, and leaves behind him not only scores of loved ones, friends, and admirers, but also a more fair and equal system of justice.”

Dean Keane will be greatly missed by those at GGU whose lives he touched. Please join me in extending our condolences to his wife Nancy and their family. As soon as I have news of the celebration of his life, I will share it.

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I had the pleasure of working with Dean Keane as a Board member in the early 2000’s. He was a great leader and inspiration to those he taught. Deepest sympathies to Nancy and his family.

Professor Keane was one of my FAVORITE professors at GGU. Such a smart and sweet person. Condolences to his family.

A couple months ago I crossed paths with Professor Keane in the rose garden at GGP. He was quick with a kind word and a nice conversation. I sincerely appreciate having known and had my life enriched by this bright and thoughful man.

He was a great professor and person!

Always admired Peter Keane; a great los to the legal community and all the people of San Francisco

Rest In Peace.

He was a kind person. I am sorry for your loss.

RIP…

Sorry for your loss.

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