"Successful project management professionals understand that our field is both a science and an art,"

"Successful project management professionals understand that our field is both a science and an art," says Maryann Kelly, a project veteran of more than twenty years. When Cendant Corporation decided to divest itself of its mortgage and commercial fleet subsidiaries, Kelly's mortgage project office suddenly had to evolve and she found herself faced with a new set of challenges. This process involved transitioning from an IT-driven to a business-driven office and facilitating the contractual merging of two highly diverse businesses into one corporation.

To help her meet these challenges, Kelly sought project management education that would be advanced enough for an experienced professional. A colleague took Converting Strategy into Action, the first course of the Stanford Advanced Project Management certificate program, and raved about it to Kelly. "It's hard to impress us and keep our attention away from work. This inspired me to check it out and I was absolutely hooked."

Kelly explains that the program addresses many age old problems facing project managers, but with a current twist. "We are faced with a global economy- with in-sourcing, out-sourcing, and other staffing choices that enable work to be done 24/7 from different cultures and with changing technology tools. The program provides truly relevant subject matter for today's veteran project manager," says Kelly.

Courses such as Project Risk Management examine unique ways to identify and manage risks that can affect success among projects. "In program management, you must look at the missing pieces and holes or risks between projects. This aspect of the program has been especially relevant for me," explains Kelly. "Our two lines of business are entirely different, but they have points of interdependence and correlation. The PHH Arval vehicle management business has been historically stable while the mortgage business can be more volatile due to the changing market mortgage interest rates. At PHH Corporation, we are leveraging both the stability of PHH Arval and the volatility of the mortgage industry by capturing new business opportunities." Kelly learned to focus more aggressively on the common denominators of the two businesses-their shared relationship to the parent company and common positions in the transitional process.

Kelly stresses that peer interaction is another key advantage of the program. She points out that faculty and participants alike share a passion for project management, and a shared motive to help each other learn. "If you're struggling, you can tell the whole, unedited story to get honest, blunt feedback without judgment or risk," she says. "The more we realize we don't know, the more we're willing to share the war wounds. For the project manager, the human element cannot be underestimated as I use my softest skills to solve the hardest problems."