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Q1 2024 Spotlight: Gary Monti, PMP
Bruce Halley, our Board Member overseeing Membership and Volunteer Services had the pleasure of interviewing Gary recently. Here is a summary of that discussion...
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Gary, you are the 14th person to pass the PMP exam. What was the exam like then? How did you even know about it and why did you decide to take it?

I was working for Stokely Van Camp both developing a new process and overseeing a large oil refinery expansion and wanted to learn more about project management. I found a reference to PMI in a book, The Encyclopedia of Associations, at the library and contacted them. Turned out Lee Lambert was right up the street and was on the team putting the first PMP exam together! From that I attended their conference in Philadelphia. At the time there were about eight thousand members in PMI. I was one of ninety-five people that were qualified to take the first PMP certification exam in 1984. It was a written exam that was graded by a panel of PMI experts. We got our results by mail approximately 3 months after taking the exam. Approximately 45 people from the first exam group passed and were awarded the PMP certification. The certification numbers were assigned alphabetically, so with a name in the middle of the alphabet, I got #14!

 

How has your membership in PMI and your PMP certification benefited you in your career?

When I joined PMI, it was a small organization; it has grown to become a global organization that is recognized as the world leader in advancing the profession and discipline of project management. The PMP certification gives me credibility as a skilled project manager, and provides a framework for managing projects that allow me to ask “If everything was going great on this project, what would it look like?” From that I can identify and address risks and issues that could impact the project outcomes.

Gary, what are you doing these days?

I am very busy with my consulting, teaching, and mentoring practice. I work mostly with privately held companies (typically under $75 M in revenue) that have been successful but reached a “plateau” and need help to continue growing. In addition, I am always happy to give presentations about project management and change management and am currently mentoring a number of individuals. 

Outside of work, I love to cook for family and friends. It creates a balance with my work, and allows me to be creative, and connect with others. I learned the basics of cooking while sitting in my grandmother’s kitchen, and love to share this same experience with my kids and grandkids. A lot of what I make I give to family and friends. Some of my favorite things to make are ravioli (36 dozen at a time), pasta sauce (4 gallons) and meatballs (100). I also like to grill and smoke meats.

 

What is your interest in change management?

I’ve always been fascinated by the number of projects that “fail”, which has led to my work with Wicked Problems. PMI used to quote a statistic that 70% of projects fail. It is my belief that many of these project failures can be attributed to a lack of clear alignment and common objectives between all of the project stakeholders. My focus has been on understanding the “politics” of a project and using that insight to work with the stakeholders to build a common set of goals for the project. It has led to the development of my signature system, the Business Triad – Politics, Business Case, and Project Management

 

You have had a long and successful career and have seen a lot of changes. What advice would you give a young person just embarking on a career as a project manager?

1. Connect – first with yourself and then with others

2. Be humble – know what you can and can’t do

3. Be kind – you’ll get as much out of it as the person you are helping. Besides, you’ll get your turn in the pit-of-unfairness-of-life and having good connections will go a long way to getting back on track

4. Find your passion – find what creates spontaneity within and gets you up in the morning

5. Determine Key Principles and stick to them – create a “report card” around your passion and score activities accordingly. The Guide to the PMBOK can be a good tool in this regard.

6. Experiment – If having a hard time with 1 – 5 then try something new, even if it is difficult. There is no such things as failure, just added information to your “lessons learned.”

To nominate someone for a future Member Spotlight, please email director-at-large1@pmicoc.org with a brief description of why they should be considered, and their contact information. 

Q3 - 2023 Spotlight: Lee Lambert, PMP
Bruce Halley, our Board Member overseeing Membership and Volunteer Services had the pleasure of interviewing Lee recently.  Here is a summary of that discussion...
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Lee Lambert has been a longtime member of the PMI Central Ohio Chapter, has served as an officer of the chapter, and now travels the world on behalf of PMI. Lee has been recognized for his service to the field of Project Management and PMI, including being named as a PMI Fellow in 2009, the highest award given to individuals by PMI. He has also been recognized as the PMI Professional Development Provider of the Year (2007) and received the PMI Distinguished Contribution Award in 1995. Lee is the CEO of Lambert Consulting Group, a firm that provides project management consulting and training services.

Lee, you were involved in the early days when PMI was founded and the PMP certification was created. Tell us a little bit about how that happened, and why. 

I became a PMI member in 1978 while I was the head of a PMO for the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory which was operated by Battelle. I was transferred to Columbus in August of 1981. I checked out the Columbus PMI Chapter and learned that the Chapter was on probation. I was the third member at that time. I joined the Chapter and undertook revitalize it. I volunteered to be President and with Battelle's help we had over 100 members in two months. I was President for 2 years. Regarding the PMP, PMI recognized that they needed to create a certification program to lend credibility to the organization, and to allow members to differentiate themselves. In 1982 I started working with a small team crafting the initial certification process and the initial exam, which rolled out in 1984. Around this time, many large corporations were recognizing that project management was an important discipline and they recognized the PMP as the “standard”. At that time, there was no published reference guide or study materials. The first PM Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) was published in 1996. 

Looking back, how has your membership in PMI benefited you in your career? 

My career has been based on PMI. I have volunteered extensively and took every opportunity to capitalize on what I learned and put into practice in the working environment. I have been independent since 1984 but continued to be very active in PMI.

What are you doing these days? 

For the past two years, I have been an unofficial “ambassador” for Project Management and the Project Management Institute. My job is to travel the world spreading the message of Project Management. Last year, I visited 31 countries and this year I hope to connect with another 60. Chapters invite me to come visit them, and I will make every attempt to reach them all. My time is free, but the Chapters must pay my expenses for my visit. I am 77 and will continue to do this job as long as I can.

With all of the changes that are occurring in our world, where do you think PMI will be in 10 years?

I believe that PMI will continue to grow and thrive in the future.There is a global need for strong project management skills – PMI forecasts that over 20 million new PM jobs will be created by 2027. The PMP will continue to be a very strong differentiator for PMs. In my travels around the world, I have had the opportunity to meet the leaders of many PMI chapters and I am very enthusiastic about the future of this organization. They are committed to growing our profession and making the world a better place.

 
​You have had a long and successful career. What advice would you give a young person just embarking on a career as a project manager? 

Decide as early as possible if project management is a fit for you. The beauty of project management is that all the different variations of management have a foundation in project management. Look for opportunities in advance and be ready for your next big move.

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