Christine Purchell, PMP, CPLP, has been working as a professional project manager for 12 years, but has been practicing project management fundamentals for much longer. While in middle school, Christine was introduced to The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey and was required to use a planner as a part of her classes. Today, as a Senior Learning Consultant with the Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI), Christine still uses the Covey teachings in her project management courses. As both a project manager for training initiatives and a project management instructor, Christine focuses on the central tenant of “putting first things first”: how to get people to think more about how they work and what it means to be productive instead of just “being busy” at work.
Recently, Christine reprised her student role to obtain her Certified Performance and Learning Professional (CPLP) certification from the Association for Talent Development (ATD). She aims to incorporate many of the skills and ideas from her CPLP certification into her own curricula. One of the most important takeaways from her certification training was a larger idea that she is working to weave into her classes: the importance of applying a “global mindset” to all that we do. A global mindset is an awareness that training is not just what one learns in the classroom; it’s a greater context of how one then applies that training to help others in one’s vocation. Christine explains “When I’m training project leaders, I’m not just training them to get through their job. I’m training them so they can complete a clinical study which then ultimately impacts patient care. It’s not just that they need to learn the course material, but also a focus on why you need to learn this.” These larger questions and holistic approach aid Christine in her efforts to break down educational and professional silos and encourage people to think more deeply about how they practice and prepare for their work.
Another principal that guides Christine’s pragmatic, thoughtful approach to teaching project management is that at some level, many people operate as project managers, even though they may not formally be referred to as project managers. As Christine explains, “If you define a ‘project’ as a unique product, service or deliverable, with a beginning and end time, most of our work is project management. But, not many people have formal training in it and most learn as they go.” To address this knowledge gap, Christine teaches a two-day course called “Basics of Project Management” offering participants 11 tools to work with, including “a project plan tool, a risk management tool, and stakeholder analyses.” One of her favorite tools from this two-day course is the “conversation planner.” Christine describes this tool as so essential that she uses it every day, even with her family. She describes it as effective preparation for hard or needed conversations. For example, if you need to talk with someone whose late assignment is impacting you, the conversation planning tool helps you plan your approach ahead of time without a defensive or accusatory tone. Christine reviews the use of the conversation planner in her recent Duke PMCoP webinar “Critical Soft Skills for Project Management”. View the recording here.
A final word of advice from Christine Purchell? “Take advantage of all of the tools and training offered and available at Duke. That’s what a community of practice is about- sharing skills and tools. The highlight and joy of my job is seeing people learning - taking the time to better their skills; also, seeing what others do in project management and sharing tools- that’s how we all learn together.”