Large digital initiatives are difficult, expensive, and need to meet and achieve many different and sometimes competing goals to be successful. At Unleashed we rely on our excellent project managers to navigate the goals of a digital initiative, make a plan, control the process, allocate resources, and ensure the project goes as planned. Many web projects will flounder or flourish based on the quality of its management. Unleashed has a 95 percent client retention rate and 90 percent client satisfaction thanks in part to our amazing project managers like Joe Weaver.
1. What is the role of a Project Manager at Unleashed Technologies?
As a Project Manager at Unleashed, my main objective is to understand my client’s needs and to translate them into developer output. I do this by breaking out project requirements into actionable tasks, designating project resources, assigning responsibilities, monitoring progress, keeping stakeholders informed, staying within scope, and hitting deadlines.
2. Do you prefer to work with clients who know exactly what they want or need help focusing their vision? Why?
I enjoy helping clients who have an idea of what they want, and then I can assist in bringing their vision to life. Whether designing, developing, or managing a project, focusing broader goals into practicable bite-sized chunks is the start of checking tasks off the to-do list. It rarely takes long to get the ball rolling quickly after that. If a client already knows exactly what they want, I can also deliver on that. I relish the challenge of meeting specific expectations, as long as it does not put an overdue strain on resources or budget.
3. What made Unleased Technologies the right company for you?
Talking with the leadership team at Unleashed gave me an idea of the scope and breadth of projects I could look forward to working on, which excited me from a career perspective. I also love the flexibility of being able to work fully remote. Once I started, the unique personalities of the Unleashed team became a big draw. I like the open and collaborative environment across disciplines and hierarchical levels, making the team feel tight-knit and supportive.
4. How did your military experience prepare you for this position?
The Marine Corps taught me many things, not least of which was how to give and receive orders. A strong emphasis on troubleshooting in my MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) gave me insight into solving problems. I also learned to stay organized, keep things as simple as possible, and not to bite off more than I can chew. The military also encouraged me to under-promise and over-deliver, which has served me well in many aspects of my life, including professionally.
5. What part of your job makes you feel most fulfilled?
Checking things off the to-do list, marking items as “completed,” or telling someone else not to worry because that one task they were stressed out about is already done.
I love experiencing other people's reactions after I helped them accomplish a goal or even realize a dream. Being an integral part of a high-performing team is hard to beat; camaraderie is a heck of a drug.
6. How do you motivate your team?
Extrinsically, I motivate members of my team by praising their accomplishments. I especially enjoy lauding their excellent work to clients and other leaders at Unleashed whenever possible. If kudos are in order, I make sure developers get it.
Intrinsically, I motivate team members by keeping them happy and focused on accomplishing significant and shared goals. Growing up, we had a plaque on the wall that emphatically stated, "If mama ain't happy, nobody's happy!" which translates surprisingly well into the workplace. If developers aren't happy, there's usually a good reason. I have found that removing known pain points can dramatically increase developer output, so that is what I try to do for them.
7. What advice do you have for someone who wants to break into project management?
Grab a personal project you want to accomplish, set a few goals, and knock it out! Once you become comfortable executing on smaller projects, work up to larger, time-bound projects, or projects done for other people, or where you must manage others. Learn PM lingo and use PM tools. You could also take a few classes; maybe get a certification. The sky's the limit. Don't let anything stop you—if you want to be a project manager, then do it. Organization is not a talent you are born with; it is a skill you learn. Anyone with enough discipline can put in the time and work required to be a good project manager.
8. Where do you go to find answers or inspiration for a tough project?
I like to browse art and design websites like Dribbble, Behance, and Pinterest for design inspiration. For answers, I check Stack Overflow (of course!), and I watch many videos on YouTube and Udemy. I have a "Designspiration" folder on my computer where I save some of my favorite art and designs, and I go back and look there from time to time.
9. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I've lived in many places, and other than moderate weather, running water, and fast internet access, only a few accommodations really matter to me. The biggest differentiating factor for me is pretty predictable. Home is where the heart is. I can make "home" anywhere I am with my family.
10. If you could time travel, when and where would you go?
The more I think about this, the less I have an answer. I'd like to watch certain historic sporting events happen, meet certain historical figures, watch certain wars (from a distance), or even change certain things. I just can't make up my mind. I'm a big science fiction buff, and time travel is one of my favorite sub-genres. I enjoy the prospect of branching timelines. Can I recommend a book here? I recommend both Dark Matter and Recursion by Blake Crouch—they are excellent novels.