For Doug Martin, a honey-do list doesn’t quite cut it. In his mind, “Life is an endless series of projects,” and he uses project management concepts to succeed.
“My family has grown accustomed to my endless list making, task delegation and status meetings at home. If you want me to do something at home, add it to the list, prioritize it and let’s negotiate a target date,” he said.
Thirty years at JPMorgan Chase and its predecessor banks fuels that mindset. Martin has acquired experience in various sectors during his tenure, working his way up in operations, technology and, of course, project management. He attained his Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI) in 2006, and has been working as a project manager on global projects in billing and liquidity for the past 12 years.
When the Tampa resident crosses the stage to receive his MBA in Project Management during Spring 2016 commencement ceremonies on Florida Tech’s Melbourne campus, he will have earned a degree that complements and enhances his knowledge and experience. We talked to him about a range of subjects, from his favorite classes to wedding planning, marketing veganism and his advice to other students.
Q. Why did you decide to advance your education through a degree program offered online?
In 2012, during my mid-year review, my manager and mentor asked if I had ever considered pursuing an MBA. He offered to sponsor me and allow me to take advantage of the bank’s tuition assistance program. After careful consideration, I decided to take advantage of the offer to increase my earning potential and make myself more marketable in preparation for future mergers or potential downsizing.
Q. What was your favorite class and why?
My favorite classes were the Project Management courses in general since that is my field. In particular, BUS 5668 Cases in Applied Project Management was the most enjoyable class, as I learned to be more proficient in Microsoft Project. By the end of the class I had developed an end-to-end project plan for planning a wedding, which was based on past experience and by interviewing my current manager, who was in the process of preparing for her own wedding. This was my first use of MS Project for a non-work related project, and my instructor told me I could probably market and sell it as a template.
Q. What surprised you most about taking an online program?
I was impressed with the user interface at Florida Tech and the ongoing investment to improve the user experience and features over the years while taking courses from 2012 through 2015.
Q. What was your most valuable takeaway?
Much of the curriculum at Florida Tech in the MBA program was review and reinforcement from my prior courses and my work experience as a practicing project manager. Surprisingly, the most valuable knowledge came from the Marketing Management course. I thoroughly enjoyed the concepts covered and found that they not only applied to marketing goods and services, but also to the marketing of ideas and concepts outside of the work place.
As an example, I recently transitioned from being an omnivore to being a vegan. My 15-year-old daughter did a wonderful job marketing the concepts to me and, after 52 years of eating meat and dairy, I am now proud to be among the growing vegan population in the U.S. and the world. Spreading the word about the benefits of veganism effectively takes a carefully thought-out marketing plan considering each target audience.
Q. How will your Florida Tech degree make a difference in your career?
As a practicing project manager with many years of experience, having an MBA with a concentration in Project Management should allow me to move into a program management role where I can manage a team of project managers and engage more in the overall planning process. In addition, my long-term goal is to write instructional books on project management based on my 30 years of experience at the firm, and I believe having this credential will increase my chances of getting published.
Q. What advice would you give to current students to persevere to graduation?
Balancing work, family and school is very challenging and can be stressful. Three concepts helped me over the past four years:
- Getting support from family and friends. Make sure your family knows how important this is for you and for them!
- Making sacrifices in your social life and staying committed to success in classes. If you really want this, you need to make it a priority. I gave up golf on weekends and spent many Friday and Saturday nights hitting the books to keep up my GPA. Online availability made it easy to keep up with my classes even on family vacations.
- If your current employer is sponsoring you for your MBA with a tuition assistance program, make sure you get your manager’s support and some flexibility to work on assignments and study for exams during work hours. They have a vested interest in your success as well!
Q. Who or what inspires you to succeed?
My wife obtained her MBA while working full-time and raising our son while I was busy merging banks in the 1990s. She encouraged me to go back to school and finish what I started when I obtained my bachelor’s degree. Without her support and encouragement, I never would have made it this far in my academic pursuits.
I have always had a quest for knowledge, and each year I would take courses and attend training sessions to fine-tune my skills and learn new tools. The tuition assistance program at JPMorgan Chase and the sponsorship from my management team made it very easy to start on the path to my MBA.
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