"This is a golden opportunity for you to invest in yourself, to gain greater understanding of your customers, and to learn from leading experts that are recognized all around the world!"

You could say that Sandy Meyer is pretty familiar with Stanford, having worked for the Stanford School of Engineering for the past 22 years. So when she enrolled in Stanford's Advanced Project Management (SAPM) program, it was largely her intimate association with the university that prompted her return to school. "I have known many of the faculty members since I first arrived at Stanford and I know them, not only by their reputation as outstanding scholars and teachers, but also as very thoughtful people. I could not think of a better environment to further develop my skills."

As Director of Facilities and Planning, Meyer is in charge of all new construction and all renovation projects for the school. Her team manages health and safety, space management, and sustainability issues. With the multidisciplinary thrust of teaching and research at Stanford, her projects often involve several schools within the university as well as staff from the Dean of Research and the President's offices. Case in point is Meyer's biggest project: a new Science and Engineering Quad (SEQ) that will house faculty and laboratories across disciplines to facilitate cutting-edge research.

Despite her tenure at Stanford, Meyer initially wasn't sure the SAPM program was for her. "I was reluctant to apply to the program because I was concerned I didn't have the appropriate educational or technical skills necessary to compete in a program like this. I also felt like the program was targeted more towards a Silicon Valley audience. After chatting with the SCPD staff I realized that the program fit nicely with my professional objectives, so I decided to try a class and was hooked."

Participating in the program as Stanford staff was an eye-opening experience. Suddenly she was able to step outside her job and see the campus and its community in a whole new light. "One of the most interesting take aways for me was the opportunity to engage on campus as a student rather than a staff member. It totally changed how I saw the campus. I was able to put myself in our "customers" shoes and experience the campus as they do."

This gave Meyer a greater appreciation for Stanford students - and she found herself thinking more about how her work impacts them. This proved valuable in facilitating the many steps of the SEQ project, since one of the goals is that the buildings facilitate collaboration among students, faculty, and industry. Understanding how students perceive their environment proved important to the process.

Balancing work, school and family life was not easy. In order to stay on top of her job, she only took one class per quarter. Originally concerned that her nonprofit background would be a disadvantage, she found both the students and case studies to be from a healthy blend of sectors. While the issues they face may be different, the processes used to manage projects follow a similar path. "It doesn't matter if you are nonprofit or for profit you still have to develop your business case, define your program and complete detailed project planning - all prior to execution."

The result? Meyer gained more confidence in her ability to manage complex programs, which had a direct impact on the SEQ project. "I was able to leverage the knowledge I gained in the classes into immediate action on campus. The skills I developed in SAPM helped me as I worked with faculty to define and plan our program, understand and respond to the political sensitivities of the many stakeholders, and identify and manage the risks and needed resources."

Meyer encourages others working in higher education and non profits to consider the Stanford Advanced Project Management program. "This is a golden opportunity for you to invest in yourself, to gain greater understanding of your customers, and to learn from leading experts that are recognized all around the world!"