March 25, 2021

Division of Programs in Business partners with the Project Management Institute NYC Chapter to Discuss “Project Management in the Pandemic Era"

The Division of Programs in Business of New York University’s School of Professional Studies and the Project Management Institute’s New York City Chapter (PMINYC) co-hosted a virtual webinar to discuss "Project Management in the Pandemic Era." A panel of experienced project managers shared their experiences managing projects during the COVID-19 pandemic during a webinar held on March 18, 2021, almost a year after the New York State Executive Order was issued.

The virtual event was moderated by PMINYC’s president, Frank Saladis. The panel included Stuart Brodsky, Director of the Schack Institute’s Center for the Sustainable Built Environment, Ben Maddox, NYU’s Chief Instructional Technology Officer and Anuskha Ramkissoon, Strategic Marketing Manager at Verizon. The event had over 200 attendees joining virtually from 13 countries.

The panelists recounted having to make quick decisions immediately after the pause began. These included having to determine whether projects needed to continue or be halted on the basis of size, complexity, importance and their impact on stakeholders. Uncertainty about the length of the pause and the evolving course of the pandemic meant that new strategies had to be formulated and implemented quickly.

The need to suddenly transition to remote work for an unknown period of time during an emergency while simultaneously tackling new critical initiatives forced changes in leadership styles. The panelists agreed that transparency and visibility were necessary to keep everyone abreast of new developments and decisions. Everyone had to reconsider their own roles and determine what was important to those touched by their projects. 

Each panelist reported that their organizations used every communication technology and channel available to keep management and employees apprised of progress and problems. It was necessary to adapt the use of technology on a case-by-case basis to get the best results. In the early weeks of the pause, demonstrating honesty, openness and empathy were vital when communicating with a workforce likely to be dealing with personal and family trauma and tragedy. Admitting that one didn’t have all the answers to problems and issues encountered was beneficial, as did allowing communications to be less formal in tone.

The pandemic accelerated the shift to agile project management approaches in each of the panelists’ organizations. The need to get enormous amounts of work done with no time to train dictated that teams had to move faster and adapt to the unexpected situations they encountered. Customers and employees liked the agile techniques employed and it is likely that these will be integrated with their traditional ways of executing projects even after the pandemic is over.

DPB is the largest division at NYU School of Professional Studies, with over 2,200 students, 500 faculty, and over 7,000 alumni. TThe Division comprises four centers of excellence—such as Management and Technology, which offers a Master's in Project Management and more—that educate leaders in the functional areas of an enterprise. Each department’s credit and non-credit portfolio of offerings serves students at every level of their careers, providing them with the knowledge and skills required to succeed in critical positions in their professional development.

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