PMI Western Michigan Chapter members receive the bi-monthly newsletter publication, On Target, via email.  This publication contains information about upcoming chapter and national events, as well as feature articles about practical project management contributed by local chapter members, PMP certified members, or reprinted publications published by PMI.

If you would like to submit an article for the newsletter, please use this link or contact our Communications Director.  All references must be sited and photographs or other media must have written release.  Submittal cut-off dates and publish dates can be obtained by contacting the Communications Director. 

Previously released newsletters are available in the Archives.

October 2014  


Welcome to fall with WMPMI!

In this issue, WMPMI met with Kathy Ober, PMP, of Amway and Florin Stanescu-Bellu, PMP, of Meijer to hear more about how they use project management each day. We also caught up with Olivia Jelenek, a participant in THE Project 2014 to chat about her career development since the competition. In case you couldn't make it, we recapped the feature and bonus presentations from the September 8, 2014, WMPMI Chapter Dinner Meeting. Lastly, if you're looking to get involved, take a look at our Calendar of Events and Volunteer Opportunities for many ways to interact with the PM community.


Introductions: Project Management Professionals

Kathleen Ober

Are you looking for project management (PM) inspiration? Have you ever wondered how your WMPMI colleagues approach their work or what types of project management challenges they face? Have you stared at the business card of the person sitting next to you at the last WMPMI dinner and been curious about what their job is really like? Do you want to connect PM faces with PM names? Would you like to learn more about the heart of WMPMI, our members, and get to know what folks are doing in our profession … right here in Michigan?

If so, you’re in the right place! This month, we’re starting a new column to introduce you to other PM professionals in the WMPMI chapter.

WMPMI had the opportunity to sit down with Kathleen (Kathy) Ober, PMP. Kathy recently accepted a new position in Business Growth and Development with Amway Corporation, so we were very excited to learn more about her new role and the many ways she uses her project and program management skills each day. Kathleen is a Program Manager for the recently formed Americas Strategic Program Management Office (PMO) in Growth and Business Development where she enthusiastically leads programs to strategically align business practices across the Americas Region (e.g., North and South America). Kathy is also responsible for establishing, testing, and implementing standard process methodologies for program management and local product sourcing. She enjoys researching PMO best practices both within and outside Amway, and looks forward to delivering process standards that will provide an outstanding experience for her stakeholders while achieving management’s goal of creating a center of program management excellence to serve the region.

To that end, Kathy is thrilled to be partnering with Amway’s Global Program Management Office and Amway Europe to establish business program management best practices and share them with other Amway PMO’s across the globe. She’s also excited about joining the local PMO Community of Practice (CoP) in Western Michigan. This community includes nearly 100 PMOs with leaders that meet monthly to discuss different challenges their PMOs are facing and brainstorm possible solutions. Kathy said, “Kudos to Ted Kallman of the WMPMI Chapter for forming this local interest group (LIG) last summer and creating this awesome communication channel for PMOs in West Michigan.” She looks forward to connecting with PMO CoP members in October.

Kathy appreciates the opportunity to work on strategic programs as they are challenging, unique, and highly visible. These programs often include ambiguity and higher risk, but the reward of sharpening your skills with a wide array of new challenges, and working with such talented and diverse people, is worth the extra effort. Kathy shared that her teams have autonomy to establish lead measures that will drive the desired strategic outcome, which she knows empowers the teams and promotes innovation. “The teams I’ve worked with so far are amazing,” said Kathy. “It’s a real pleasure to work with talent so focused and dedicated to success,” she added.

Kathy shared that her professional goal has always been to “make a measurable difference” in all that she does. In her new role at Amway, every program is driven by strategy, supported by analytics and market research, and has specific performance metrics to achieve. She looks forward to seeing the results of her initial programs in Americas Strategic PMO portfolio, but not for the reasons you might think.

Amway is committed to helping people all over the world build better lives through their business opportunity, therefore, everything Amway does is laser-focused on ways to better meet the needs of their independent business owners to help them grow their businesses faster and achieve sustainable success. When the programs Amway launches are successful, the Amway Independent Business Owners benefit directly. “Their success is our success, and that’s what Amway is all about,” said Kathy. What better way is there to make a difference than to help others be successful? This is why she loves working for Amway.

Kathy’s been involved with WMPMI since 2000. She became a Project Management Professional (PMP) in 2003. She’s served the chapter in numerous roles as volunteer, Vice President (VP) of Education, VP of Administration, and President (2006 – 2008).  

 “I can’t say enough about volunteering with WMPMI and the value of the relationships I have built over the years in this chapter. Learning how others were working through their projects and implementing change was so valuable, and in several cases directly applicable to projects I needed help with. My years working on the board provided leadership skills that I use daily, and I can tell you with absolute certainty that the relationships I have built in WMPMI have had a big impact on my career progression,” she relayed.

Chat with Kathleen at our next WMPMI dinner or connect with her on LinkedIn.

Are you doing amazing things in project management? Do you know a PM who would be a great candidate for a future column? Tell us about it! Email your ideas, submissions, or nominations to Monica Stout at


Introductions: Project Management Professionals

Florin Stanescu-Bellu

Are you looking for project management (PM) inspiration? Have you ever wondered how your WMPMI colleagues approach their work or what types of project management challenges they face? Have you stared at the business card of the person sitting next to you at the last WMPMI dinner and been curious about what their job is really like? Do you want to connect PM faces with PM names? Would you like to learn more about the heart of WMPMI, our members, and get to know what folks are doing in our profession … right here in Michigan?

If so, you’re in the right place! Please read below to learn more about WMPMI chapter members in our community.

WMPMI recently spoke with chapter member Florin Stanescu-Bellu. Florin is a Construction Project Manager at Meijer, where he’s responsible for designing and managing projects building coolers (0F to 29F) and freezers (0F to negative 20F). These are not refrigerators like the ones you open and close everyday in your kitchens. In Florin’s case, the refrigerators or freezers are on a much larger scale. They can be 110 feet tall (11 stories high) and over 75,000 square feet!

 The freezers Florin designs and creates also contain an integrated automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS). “Items are stored in the freezer primarily by the case, with the ASRS. When it comes time to ship a requested product to a store, the ASRS knows where everything is and the order in which the products will be removed from the pallets to stock shelves at the store level. The pallet will be built not just store friendly, but also aisle friendly,” Florin shared.  

A few months ago, Florin completed a construction project renovating a 550,000 square foot distribution center in Wisconsin containing a cooler and freezer, with temperature controls as low as -10 degrees Fahrenheit. To put the distribution center into perspective, an average Meijer store is just under 200,000 square feet. So, how does the PMBOK help in all of this? The study of Project Management allows Florin to manage multiple projects in a standard or structured way. This allows him to engage and manage a variety of in-house and outside resources for each of his projects. 

Florin’s professional management career started nearly 16 years ago when he was working on a large construction project in Germany. There, he managed construction workers building a high-speed train tunnel through the mountains between Frankfurt and Koln. Workers were from five different nationalities and were working around the clock six days a week.  With different nationalities, languages, cultures, and safety and production issues, Florin had to first find common ground with his staff, such as German being the language used for the project.

Florin has now managed projects in Europe, Canada, and the US. In his experience, he feels there is a broader range of Project Management Professionals (PMPs) in Europe and Canada, with the US primarily having IT-based PMPs. “The one thing I am now much more open to is differences in culture,” Florin said.  “There are what might seem like subtle differences in cultures, but they can make very large impacts on people involved. How you hand someone a business card, or lay down an agenda, or speak in metric or imperial measurement terms can all seem like small differences, but they speak volumes to those involved. There are also local perceptions that need to be thought through and addressed when building in a new geographical area.  People in the local area may not know or understand who we are or how we operate.  You have to strive to learn and know “local” when you’re in a new area.”  

Are you doing amazing things in project management? Do you know a PM who would be a great candidate for a future column? Tell us about it! Email your ideas, submissions, or nominations to Monica Stout at


THE Project Participants: Where Are They Now?

As we gear up for THE Project 2015, we were wondering how the lives of our collegiate competition participants last year have changed. This month, we caught up with Olivia Jelenek. Olivia was a member of the winning Grand Valley State University (GVSU) team in THE Project 2014.

For Olivia, her involvement with THE Project started a year ago when she was pursuing her Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Grand Rapids at GVSU. She was attending a school function when she ran into WMPMI Director of Creative Education, Benjamin Todd. He was the first person to tell her about THE Project. Given her background, Olivia thought the project management discipline would be great to gain experience in, so she joined one of GVSU’s two teams competing in THE Project.

Overall, Olivia relayed that her team with five other GVSU students worked really well together and that everyone on the team learned so much about project management. All of her teammates were new to the concepts of project management, so they were nervous, but each made a commitment to work hard and come together to succeed. During the competition, her team met every Saturday morning to work on deliverables and learn all the ins and outs of project management.

She said her team’s biggest challenge was getting an idea of where to start with such a big project that had so many possible directions to explore. “The Mentors were instrumental in helping us break it all down into smaller chunks so we could work through everything step-by-step,” she shared. Olivia also attributed much of her team’s success to the use of many, many sticky notes. She really enjoyed the experience and everyone’s contributions. “Getting to see it all come full-circle at the end of the competition was really great, not to mention taking home the first place trophy!” she said.

After the competition, Olivia updated her résumé with the experience she gained through the competition and the added bonus of being a part of a winning team. She attended a Career Fair on campus at GVSU and met a recruiter for IBM. The recruiter was impressed with her grasp on project management principles and scheduled her for an interview. In the interview, Olivia was asked questions about her knowledge of the Project Management Institute (PMI), Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), and more. Through her work on THE Project, she was able show off all she had learned during the competition. Olivia definitely impressed them because she was hired in as a Project Manager for IBM in Dallas, Texas, with only a few other individuals.

Fast forward to the present … Olivia has been with IBM for roughly a month and is just finishing her initial training. She is going to be working as a Project Manager on AT&T’s Strategic Account, where she’ll be putting in place the applications for the strategy roadmaps the company will implement through 2020.

Olivia shared that she has a lot of work to do in Dallas, but once she gets some time under her belt she could see herself moving back up to Michigan and working as a Project Manager for one of the companies in our area. If she does, she wants to help with THE Project because it was one of the most difficult, engaging, and rewarding experiences in her college career.


In Case You Missed It: Professional Development Day

October 6 Professional Development Day Recap – PMI Michigan Capital Area Chapter

Lansing’s PMI chapter had record-breaking attendance at their Professional Development Day with 235 attendees. The five speakers of the day included: Neal Whitten, Mark Perry, Cindy Lewis, Todd Williams, and Crystal Farh. The video promoting the event, agenda, and biographies of the speakers can be viewed here.

Attendees earned 7 PDUs and participants were entered in drawings to receive prizes including books and consulting certificates. One lucky winner walked away with a new iPad.

WMPMI's Director of Public Relations Cindy Lewis was both a speaker and attendee at the event. Below are her thoughts on the event. 

Neal Whitten gave us his 15 power snippets. There are a few things that really stood out to me --
1. Think for yourself. 
2. Like I heard at a recent WMPMI meeting – common sense is a PM technique. 
3. He recommended that you manage daily to your 3 top priorities. If you can’t name them, you don’t have them.
4. Be bold in your approach – people can’t tell if you are faking it or not when acting courageous. 

I personally feel that the Flash Foresight book by Daniel Burrus that our chapter has been recommending really helps with some of Neal’s points. I also feel that an older book on Leadership from Rudy Giulianiillustrated some of Neal’s points as well. 

Mark Perry gave us his perspective on PMOs. Even though he was not formally trained via PMI standards, he had some insights that we could all relate to. He said that the PMO is key to business success and to compliment what we heard in our WMPMI PMO panel in October, small successes help lead to bigger successes. He presented numerous stories about how just deploying master approaches in software and processes really don’t work. This is where he contradicted common PMI direction that the only way to deploy a PMO is through implementing a process on a global level since that does not in reality guarantee success. Other thoughts: Company issues might be outside the scope of the PMO and the company might not be ready for a PMO. Something he said that is still making me think is, “Golden Rule = It’s not your PMO.”

My presentation included the topics of What’s New in Project 2010, What’s New in Project 2013, Agile Approaches in Project/Excel, Cloud Benefits, Project Online, and Pricing Cloud versus Non-Cloud. My topics were expanded based on feedback from the Lansing chapter before my presentation. Much of my discussion on what’s new was delivered in demonstrations and what I tried to show is not just what the new feature is, but why you should care in a PM or business situation. Some features I highlighted include: manual task scheduling, team planner view, timeline view, inactive tasks, jump start wizards, task paths, synchronization with SharePoint, and reporting dashboards. I shared with the audience some thoughts from our September WMPMI meeting related to Agile - do more with less through priorities. I illustrated how you can categorize activities and decide what to drop in favor of the sprint. I shared third-party research from on 70 deployments that conclude “Cloud applications deliver 1.7 times more ROI than on-premise ones.” I showed the three major areas of Project Online – Projects, Resources, and Portfolios. For small businesses I illustrated how easy it is to support costs of monthly cloud memberships versus buying software outright.

It was really surprising to hear how the two speakers after me referenced one of the same authors I referenced in my presentation – Daniel Pink. According to Todd Williams, to learn more about what motivates individuals, you should check out the YouTube video and book titled “Drive” by Daniel Pink. More money does not equal more drive. Individuals might be motivated more by what they are developing – consider open source software as an example. Todd’s presentation used audience members standing, walking, and moving to illustrate the common problems that we all experience with stakeholders, team members, risks, changing scope, and other areas. Some points that stuck in my head include having the project manager and stakeholder walk arm-in-arm to approach the issue at hand. You can also use this approach to showcase completion of the goal. Something that I am still thinking about from Todd’s presentation is everything you run across in a project can be categorized into three areas – team, process, and customer.

Our final speaker of the day was Crystal Fath. Crystal discussed leadership styles and each of us completed an assessment that categorized us into either directing, coaching, or relating. In her research, she conducted numerous evaluations of surgical teams to see how these different approaches were used in different points in a surgery such as prep time or actual surgery. She tied her results into PMI concepts very clearly. For example, directing too early can be a demotivator. Coaching is needed in both prep and execution. As a PM, we might say something like, “This is the type of situation we might experience,” which is more coaching than directing. She illustrated how relating too much on a new team can actually reduce team effectiveness. If people don’t know each other, forcing them to be more personable can backfire. 

Overall, it was a great event and I was happy to be a part of it.  I especially thank the PMI-MCAC chapter for inviting me to speak and attend their PDD.

Cindy Lewis
Director of Public Relations 


In Case You Missed It: Dinner Meeting Featured Presentation

Mark Layton of Platinum Edge was the featured presenter at the WMPMI Chapter Dinner Meeting on September 8. His presentation, Racing in Reverse, relayed the quantitative relationship between overtime, defects, and project slippage. If you missed our meeting, a copy of his very interesting and informative presentation is located here.

Mark shared a reality that many PMs face each day – we work a lot of overtime. Despite this, we’re not more effective. Mark shared many facts and figures regarding overtime, sleep deprivation, and the ensuing mistakes. He shared the relationship between all three. Finding out that eliminating overtime reduces defects by roughly 93 percent was eye opening to attendees.

Additionally, Mark pointed out that there is a cultural value system in which loyalty and grit are proven through personal sacrifice, that our compensation structures reward working longer, not smarter, and that there is a disconnect between introducing defects and identifying defects (e.g., workers can get false credit for creating trash).

One way to close the gap between defect introduction and defect identification is by employing agile methodologies. Mark also relayed that you can accelerate projects by working on the right thing (features that are used frequently), reducing wasted time through less interruptions, less thrashing, more effective communication, and less ineffective meetings.

You can learn more about Platinum Edge here or brush up on agile or scrum by reading Mark’s books, Agile Project Management for Dummies and Scrum for Dummies.


In Case You Missed It: Dinner Meeting Bonus Presentation

Jill Arehart from TEKsystems joined us for the September 8, 2014 WMPMI Chapter Dinner Meeting. TEKsystems, a subsidiary of Allegis Group, provides IT staffing solutions, IT services, and talent management insights. Deploying over 80,000 professionals annually, TEKsystems helps companies achieve quantifiable outcomes.

During her presentation, Jill shared the state of Project Management (PM) in West Michigan. Notably, she relayed that the majority of job postings in IT PM fall in the Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo areas. She noted that there is a distinct crossover from business to IT in the market and that companies are willing to pay a premium for scarce skillsets. Despite this, salaries in the West Michigan area are not keeping pace with the national market. That said, national salaries can be hard to compare to our area because they do not account for cost of living adjustments, so it is difficult to draw a clear comparison between the two.

So, where do companies find top talent? Jill let us know that job seekers use the following resources:

  • Job boards (96%)
  • Professional networks (84%)
  • Their employer’s sites and career pages (83%)
  • Staffing firms (80%)
  • Social networks (79%)
  • Referrals (74%)

How do you differentiate yourself from your competition? Jill’s advice was to have great references. As a talent management professional, Jill said that applicants these days are thoroughly screened. This includes understanding a person’s references, both peer and supervisor. She recommended asking your network to endorse or recommend you on your LinkedIn profile. Jill also encouraged the audience to practice their personal elevator speech, listen and ask questions, clearly tell your story, and dress like a professional when interviewing.

If you want to learn more about TEKsystems, you can visit their website or connect with Jill on LinkedIn or Twitter.


Calendar of Events

  • November 10, 2014: WMPMI Dinner Meeting, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.
    Feature: Ashley Livingston, PMO at Wolverine Worldwide and Pat Mitchel, Lead Project Manager at Wolverine Worldwide are presenting "Managing the Madness of a $1.5 Billion Project."
    Bonus: Mike Yoder will present on Social Media for Professionals

Location: Holiday Inn Express / Crossroads (Grand Rapids)  and Fetzer Center (Kalamazoo)

  • November 16-19: PMO Symposium 2014
    Miami Beach, FL

  • January 12, 2015: WMPMI Dinner Meeting, 5:00 - 8:00 p.m.
    Feature: James Brown, Keynote Speaker for THE Project 2014
    Bonus: Jim Boes, Past President of APICS
    Location: Holiday Inn Express / Crossroads (Grand Rapids)  and Fetzer Center (Kalamazoo)

  • February 9, 2015: WMPMI Dinner Meeting, 5:00 - 8:00 p.m.
    Feature: Jeff Dalton will discuss leadership concepts
    Bonus: Robert Berline will discuss leadership concepts
    Location: Holiday Inn Express / Crossroads (Grand Rapids)  and Fetzer Center (Kalamazoo)

  • March 9, 2015: WMPMI Dinner Meeting, 5:00 - 8:00 p.m.
    Feature & Bonus: Joe Tipton will discuss Managing for Improvement, Parts 1 & 2
    Location: Holiday Inn Express / Crossroads (Grand Rapids)  and Fetzer Center (Kalamazoo)

  • March 17, 2015: Professional Development Day (PDD) with Flash Foresight author Daniel Burrus, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
    The Pinnacle Center, 3330 Highland Drive, Hudsonville, MI 49426-1907
    You can save a ton if you register early! Super early bird deals end on November 18th and early bird deals expire on February 18th. 





International Project Management Day

November 6th Is International Project Management Day (IPM Day)

IPM Day was founded by Frank Saladis, PMP and is always the first Thursday in November. The goal of this event is to recognize contributions of project teams, project managers, and others implementing project management methodologies. 

Looking for PDUs or need a way to promote project management internally? This might be your event. 

This is very similar to a regular conference as participants are in full control of how they interact in this virtual environment and how long they spend in various sections of the conference. For several years, WMPMI's Director of Public Relations Cindy Lewis worked as a question and answer volunteer in one of the exhibitor booths. Conference participants enter a booth where they may obtain information sheets, participate in live chats, network with others, or submit questions. After the participants receive the information they need, they move to another booth or enter a speaker presentation. 

Whether you need PDUs or want to celebrate the profession, consider adding IPM Day to your schedule.


Facilitated Conversation

The membership committee has been busy trying to create more inclusive conversation at the monthly dinner meetings. Have you ever dreaded coming to a meeting knowing no one? Do you come to WMPMI to network? We are providing questions for each table (except the speaker table) to help facilitate conversation.  

We tried this as a trial in September and felt it was helpful so we are continuing it! The goals of this facilitated conversation is to help make people feel welcomed, allow everyone at the table to be introduced and engaged, understand where people work and provide a lead-in to the main speaker for the evening. 

So help us by volunteering to be a facilitator for your table in November. The October meeting questions will included the following questions.

1)     Please introduce yourself, where you work and your favorite dessert.  Feel free to pass business cards as well.

2)     Have you ever had or been a mentor?  Please explain briefly your experience.

3)     What do you think a mentor should do be for the mentee?


Volunteer Opportunities











If you have a relationship with a College Dean in the Business, Engineering, Computer Science, Marketing, Please let us know.

If you have relationships with people in Talent Acquisition / HR, we'd like to talk with you about bringing awareness of an opportunity to interview excellent talent represented by collegiate team members in THE Project 2015.

We need THE Project 2015 mentors! If you are interested, contact Jeff Kissinger at