- Jim Douglas- Grant Writing Certificate Program Participant
- Jeff Bruni - Project Management Certificate Program Participant
- Sandi Potter - Supervision Certificate Program Participant
- Rosemary Cummings - Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certificate Program Participant
- Kelli Fox- Training & Development Certificate Program
- Chanterelle Atkins- PHR (Professional in Human Resources) Certification Participant
- Jackie Flowers- Certificate Program in Advanced Assessment of the Older Adult Participant
- Sharoo Wengland- Professional Communication Certificate Participant
- Angelica Caterino- Grant Writing Certificate Participant
- Joe Walsh- Supervision Certificate Participant
- Susan Bassi Brown- Human Resources Certificate Participant
- Chris Glancy- Project Management Certificate Participant
- Melissa Suey - Training & Development Certificate Participant
- Bob Marsh- Lean Six Sigma Certificate Participant
Jim Douglas has devoted his entire career to human services, and here was a fine opportunity to build community – his interest and passion – in a new arena: public health.
So he became partnership director for Healthy Oxford Hills, one of the 27 Healthy Maine Partnerships, and a project of Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway. With a helping hand from USM, he’s doing just fine.
Jim has had extensive experience in the human services field, including eight years’ service as a Quaker pastor. He always has been in supervisory and management positions, developing extensive experience in dealing with the combination of administration and personnel. He likes that blend of service and management.
Still, leading partnership development is something he has never done before. This job is the most complex work he’s had. The “layering of grants” is a major matter. The Wellness Collaborative is a volunteer network supported entirely by grants, and Healthy Oxford Hills promotes health and wellness through 12 grants, from private foundations, state and federal agencies.
Getting that funding requires applying for the grants, which is totally new to Jim Douglas. Now he has applied for three of them, and succeeded in obtaining all three.
He credits the weeklong Certificate in Grant Writing course presented by Jack Smith in the USM Professional Development & Training program. He found the course valuable in focusing what he already knew, and providing key additional material.
“Jack has great information and structured tips,” Jim reported. “There was emphasis on crafting a superb abstract, and using actual facts to demonstrate the need – a grant application to address obesity is made stronger when you can cite that 83 percent of adult males in the Oxford Hills are overweight or obese – much higher than state and national averages.”
Jim loves the work, which he describes as “a pretty holistic range of health and wellness, involving hundreds of agencies.” A lot of it is aimed at improving the health of the entire population in a variety of ways such as supporting farmers’ markets, providing education to increase public awareness of healthy eating, and helping to provide biking and hiking paths.
Public support is growing, he says. People are responding to the efforts to teach a different kind of thinking about what it takes to improve nutrition for the individual and what is needed to facilitate workplace wellness as well as community health. “People don’t choose to eat poorly – they eat what is available and affordable. If the closest source of food is a convenience store or fast food outlet, that tends to be what they eat.”
On a community basis, one problem has been a culture in which the various programs have operated “in their own silos” duplicating some administrative structures “if not actually competing,” in Jim Douglas’ words.
One of Healthy Oxford Hills’ partnerships is the Oxford County Wellness Collaborative, which set out to create “collective impact – the current buzz phrase” for working together at a whole new level. Defining common goals and creating a strategic plan with measures that everyone agrees to, is essential. Ultimately, it comes down to building relationships and trust.
Jim Douglas believes he came to the right place. “My delight in taking this job,” he explains, “is that Oxford County is very committed to taking collaboration to new heights.”
Helping to make it all work is the expertise gained from Jack Smith’s USM Certificate in Grant Writing: “Jack is a wealth of information about resources. He clearly knew the field. His credibility was excellent.”
The same can be said of Jim Douglas, on all three counts.
-Student Profile by Jim Milliken, President & Principal Consultant at Jim Milliken, Inc.
Jeff Bruni says that once you learn the 5 stages of Project Management (PM), you can use it in every area of your life. Jeff and his wife, Diane, enjoy living on Sebago Lake year round. “We even use PM at home,” he says. He gives the annual ritual of “Getting Ready for Summer on Sebago Lake” as an example of how its principles can be easily applied to everyday life. Jeff says PM is a handy tool to break down “what to do, how to do it, and how to know when you’re done.” For example, he and his wife break down a single item such as “Get the jet skis ready” into even smaller, sequential “work packets” such as taking the covers off the jet skis, charging their batteries, giving them a power wash, etc.
After completing many additional similar “work packets” they know they’re finally done managing their home “project” when they fulfill the project goal they mutually agreed upon in the fifth and final stage. In other words, says Jeff, they’re ready for summer on Sebago Lake when they "take that first ride of the season across the lake.”
Jeff earned a B.A. in Communications from the University of Southern Maine (USM) in the fall of 1994. In 2000, Jeff started at Verizon as a Business Sales Representative and by the time Fairpoint Communications acquired Verizon in 2007, Jeff was promoted to manager of a team in the Business Sales and Customer Service Center.
Although Jeff was performing well in his manager position, he realized that to grow personally and professionally it was “up to me”. By this time, he was not only reading biographies, but everything he could get his hands on that had to do with leadership, business and mentoring. After all, he says, “The more viewpoints you have in your toolbox the better!”
In August of 2012 Jeff took on a new opportunity, this time as a Specialist of Complex Services/Project Manager. As a primary contact for Fairpoint’s largest business customers, Jeff found himself coordinating several internal Fairpoint departments. Six months into this newest position, Jeff decided to take the initiative to continue learning and growing personally and professionally. He made a commitment to add on to his already full work schedule by signing up for the spring 2013 Project Management Certificate Program at USM.
Jeff had some reservations about “going back to college” because it took him out of his comfort zone and he didn’t know what to expect. However, within a short time, he was put at ease by the sheer diversity of experience in his classmates—from those who had no PM experience whatsoever to those who had already fulfilled the criteria to earn the title of PMP but were eager for a refresher, and everyone in between. Most importantly for Jeff, every single one of them wanted to be there.
He found the Project Management trainer, Jim Milliken to be down-to-earth, self-effacing in spite of his wealth of experience in the field, funny, easy to talk to and extremely knowledgeable. Milliken went out of his way to include each participant in class discussions. Jeff really appreciated that “everyone took part and everyone had a say”. He says his classes “really flew by” and that he felt let down when the semester ended.
Jeff had only one class remaining before completing the PM certificate program, when he was assigned a project at work that would give him a golden opportunity to put into practice what he’d just learned from Milliken. It was a large-scale project that involved working with many different players. Jeff says that one of the most important skills he gained from his PM training was how to successfully interact with a wide array of people. As a result, he and his two Project Manager counterparts were able to communicate and get along “without competing with one another and just work together to get the job done.” This resulted in the successful and timely completion of the project for all stakeholders.
Jeff says his wife and his parents have inspired him when it comes to community involvement, giving back and going the extra mile. Project Management has given him a way to do the same. “Now,” Jeff says, “I’ve found my niche. In the big scheme of things, I want to make a positive impact.”
- Student Profile by Justine Denny
Sandi Potter is a persistent person, determined to have a management career.
Over the years she has handled as many as three jobs at once, while periodically taking college courses and continuing education workshops.
The search for a better life always included a conviction that education must be part of it, and there has been a lot of that along with the search for meaningful employment.
The career-building project has continued over three decades, interspersed with raising four children and has included work as an Associate Broker in real estate, completion of a general studies associates degree and a variety of other work and learning experiences that have led her to zero in on becoming a manager.
The idea of seeking management education rose from both positive and negative experiences.
“I love talking and working with people,” she explains, adding, “The majority of the people I’ve worked with liked working with me. I know how to give constructive feedback, and I have good rapport with people.”
The restaurant management job that demonstrated that to her, also revealed areas where she needed to increase her learning. “I fell into the job with no management background, and when certain situations arose, I didn’t know how to handle them.”
As a result, she pursued USM’s Professional Development Certificate in Supervision which provided her new knowledge to apply right away as well as an opportunity to network with others seeking the same skillset.
She has also been working closely with USM’s Online Program Advisor Ashley Collins, as she works her way through USM’s online Business Management Degree. Completing her bachelor’s degree is a key part of her career plan.
All this from a person who, looking back at her early education, remarks, “I didn’t do so well the first time around.”
In her hardworking pursuit of that better future, she definitely seems to have it right this time.
Rosemary Cummings has been a nurse all her professional life, and still is – but now with a difference.
For the past year, she has been Director of Clinical Initiatives and Innovation at Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick.
She is a change agent, working as an internal consultant on nursing practice improvement, productivity and quality.
She was Vice President of Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer at St. Mary’s Hospital in Lewiston when, deciding to make a career change, she took the new post in her home town, Brunswick.
Rosemary’s management approach is a participative one. Ever the nurse, she has made a practice of doing her managing out on the units rather than in an office. “I walk alongside pretty well,” she acknowledges. “I have a critical eye for excellence, but I don’t judge people.”
The hospital has reorganized its nursing leadership, and Rosemary has filled in as Director of Surgical Services since April while the hospital conducts a search for a permanent director.
“The team members are the clinical experts,” she notes, “I’m learning roles, functions and workflow. It’s my job to see that they have what they need in order for them to perform at their highest and best. If they need to call in a nurse, I say okay . . . then we debrief: Is there something we could have done differently? If we manage effectively, we will continue to have quality outcomes every day and manage to still put a little aside for the unexpected; we need to manage our work budget just as we do our home budgets. It’s my job to ask the hard questions.”
Simultaneously, she is pressing clinical initiatives in Surgical Services and she is focusing on sustainability.
Rosemary earned her nursing degree at the University of Rhode Island, and her master’s in Nursing Administration at Boston University, and came to Maine in 1983.
Her extensive experience, including project management at St. Mary’s, stood her in good stead. But her professional reading convinced her that Lean Six Sigma could add additional value, so she arranged her work schedule to allow her to take the five-session certificate program at USM. It worked.
“I already had the project list and the team to work with,” she explained. “What the Lean Six Sigma course gave me was the structure and the process, to get sustainable outcomes.”
“What I learned from Lean Six Sigma was to measure outcomes determined by the voice of the customer or audience, whether it’s patients, staff members, or physicians. If the outcome doesn’t meet their need, the new processes won’t be sustainable.”
“Our healthcare environment is changing every day. Every member of our team needs to be functioning at the highest level and our work processes provide sustainable change to keep our patients safe.”
Student Profile by Jim Milliken, President & Principal Consultant at Jim Milliken, Inc.
When the director’s position opened in Sweetser’s Training Institute a couple of years ago, Kelli Fox applied and got the job. “It opened up a whole new world for me,” she says.
Kelli is a self-described fan of professional development and a lifelong learner. She progressed through a series of stages that began when she decided at age 9, down home on the Jersey shore, that she wanted to be a psychologist.
Later, as she was working on her psychology degree at Rutgers, her classes on addictions counseling sparked an interest in that field, and she worked toward professional certification. In January 1987, she began working as a family counselor at an addiction rehab facility for adolescents in New Jersey.
Upon moving to Maine in September 1987, Kelli accepted a job as a home-based counselor with Bath-Brunswick Mental Health Center, (now, coincidentally, owned by Sweetser). In 1989 she became licensed as an addiction counselor and moved on to work with another mental health agency in the substance abuse program.
Among her colleagues over those years were clinical social workers. “I loved them,” she reports, and she developed a desire to have their broader perspective on how people become who they are in the world. “Psychology was too limiting at that time.”
So she entered the social work master’s program at UNE, becoming a member of the first graduating class. By 1994, she had been asked to teach graduate courses in Human Behavior and the Social Environment, and Social Work and Substance Abuse. In addition to teaching at UNE, Kelli has held several management positions in social work and addictions counseling.
The attraction to social work was because she wanted to help people. Not surprisingly, she realized she really liked teaching, learning something and then helping other people understand it.
So the move to leadership of the Training Institute was part of the natural progression, but felt she needed something more to do it properly.
She loved the work and the people, yet, “I felt a knowledge gap. I’ve had lots of training in management, supervision and organizational development, and I feel comfortable with it. But in adult education, there were things I just didn’t know. The concepts were not unfamiliar, but I’d be in a webinar and didn’t know all the language.”
So she sought and added a new level of understanding in the past year, her 28th in social work. In the September-June period, she completed the USM Certificate in Training and Development.
“Now I have a much better grasp of the difference between teaching for content, as in grad school, and training for skill development.
“All my career as an educator, I was a subject-matter expert. Now I’ve learned how to also include people in the process. They walk away with skills as well as knowledge. I’m more of a facilitator than just an educator.
“It’s a whole different situation when you are teaching adults who are already doing the work, rather than presenting theory without practicality.”
Student Profile by Jim Milliken, President & Principal Consultant at Jim Milliken, Inc.
Chanterelle Atkins is that rare person disciplined enough to accomplish a great deal by applying professional development learning to her employer's growing business. She has proactively worked with the Maine Human Rights Commission to establish her employer’s first parental leave policy, supported the implementation of its first telecommuting program, and she is currently developing metric tools to gauge employee satisfaction, all while smiling a lot and taking life with a “gratitude attitude.”
Her full-time occupation is a multitask position as Director of Administration at Compass Health Analytics, Inc., a Portland-based consulting firm that advises on health care costs, financial risk, regulatory issues and related matters to a nationwide client base.
Chanterelle participated in more than 30 training events last year, mostly on her own time, and attended a conference in Texas on an award from the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP). She currently is developing the first mentoring program for the Portland IAAP chapter. This year, her professional development focus is strategic alignment of her responsibilities on the job, along with the firm’s objectives.
She manages the firm's administrative operations, providing direction and support of benefits enrollment, business development, ergonomics assessments, travel and meeting coordination, client contract administration, risk management such as security and corporate insurances, office and vendor management, recruitment, and service as an account liaison for all company-provided benefits. Prior to Compass, she worked at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General and McLean Hospitals.
Chanterelle’s first experience with USM came as she worked her way through college. She earned pre-approved transfer credits here and at Orono in a plan that eventually produced a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing Communications from Emerson College in Boston with magna cum laude honors. The coursework in Maine, as well as a job at L.L. Bean, kept costs down and built up the wherewithal to finance the Boston phase of the plan.
At USM more recently, Chanterelle took the Professional & Continuing Education prep course for Professional in Human Resources and passed the certification test (Chanterlle shares her experience in the video below); and last month, she completed the PCE Supervision series. Additional avenues for growth are the several professional organizations in which she participates. Certifications she has earned include the Certified Administrative Professional, specialty in Organizational Management and Certified Office Ergonomics Evaluator. Next month, she is presenting a webinar about LinkedIn and building an online personal brand.
Chanterelle is a fan of Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, author of the inspirational life-management bestseller “Lean In.” She likes to use a Sandberg term to describe her career philosophy: “Relentlessly pleasant.”
While the two words aren’t usually thought of as being compatible, available evidence suggests that Chanterelle is doing very well with both.
Student Profile by Jim Milliken, President & Principal Consultant at Jim Milliken, Inc.
Student Profile: Jackie Flowers
Certificate Program in Advanced Assessment of the Older Adult Participant
Jackie Flowers says, “I’ve always ascribed to the notion that, if you find a job you love, you’ll never work another day in your life.”
She also believes that touch is the best therapy for someone in distress, and that education is a continual requirement. Those three convictions are the guideposts as Jackie’s career enters a transition from nursing to healthcare staff work.
Jackie, a massage therapist, will always continue in that work. She talks of working in hospice care as a home health professional, and seeing what happened when morphine had no effect on an end-of-life patient’s torment from severe pain: “Then someone touched them – massaged their feet – and they went to sleep. I saw it over and over and over. The magic of touch.”
Jackie, who also is a registered nurse, has worked at hospitals for much of her career. She received massage training some years ago, and worked in her own full-time massage therapy practice. Then a recession-induced decline in income, coupled with a need for health insurance coverage, sent her back into the employment market.
She has been working as a weekend supervisor at the Veterans Administration Home in South Paris. “I fell into supervision,” she explains, relating that she filled in at a time in need, and a new competency was discovered.
Now, she will be moving into a full-time position as admissions and education coordinator at the 61-bed Freeport Nursing Home – but she will continue a reduced massage therapy practice. Jackie takes a holistic approach to that work, blending in her nursing knowledge to work with people who are injured and/or in chronic pain.
She doesn’t want to let go of the massage work. “It’s a calling,” she says. The Freeport position became a possibility when the administration there agreed to schedule her responsibilities around the requirements of her massage therapy work.
Jackie’s extensive educational record includes two certificate programs at USM. She took a nursing refresher program some years ago, and last fall completed the Certificate Program in the Assessment of the Older Adult. One thing she has always known is that “nursing home patients are ‘touch-deprived.’ They have no one. Touch is the best therapy.”
The first stage of her professional career was a 13-year stint as a licensed practical nurse (LPN). Then she completed registered nurse education in 1988 at what is now Kennebec Valley Community College.
Jackie, who refers to herself as “a lifelong learner,” continues a years-long practice of earning CEUs from various organizations, so her skills will remain up to date. “Nursing always has been – always will be – dynamic,” she says. “If you never take another class, how will you know what’s going on?”
Student Profile by Jim Milliken, President & Principal Consultant at Jim Milliken, Inc.
You could say that taking turns driving an 18-wheeler day and night across North America was part of Sharoo Wengland’s pursuit of her lifelong dream. But it was a small part.
Sharoo’s big vision was to rise above the poverty she and her small family – Sharoo, her little sister and her mother – struggled with after her parents divorced when Sharoo was three years old. She considers Texas her home, but her mother moved them all over the country in search of work, ranging from secretarial to hotel-cleaning jobs that never provided a real living.
No one in Sharoo’s family had ever earned a college degree and she felt that lack of education was the root of her family’s predicament. She knew she had to ensure that she could be self-reliant when it came time to provide for her own future children – “my dream” – and prevent their ever undergoing the kind of life she had experienced. “I always had a passion for college,” she says. “I didn’t want to end up with the life my mother had, unable to support herself.”
Now she’s there, but she’s not done yet, by any means. Sharoo is a staff associate in the Office of the President of USM. She holds a USM bachelor’s degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences and is a graduate student aiming for an advanced degree in adult and higher education. She plans to go on to receive her doctorate when she is done at USM.
Sharoo has been taking classes since 1996, first in community college in Texas, then online with the University of Phoenix, and finally at USM. She also is in the USM’s Professional Development Program’s Professional Communication Certificate Program.
Getting here has been quite a trip. Sharoo had to go to work at the age of 16, to pay for her own needs and help support the household. When she was in training to be an assistant manager at Pizza Hut, a new manager arrived. That was Steve, who would eventually became her husband.
Shortly afterward, the couple took to the road. They lived in the truck, in continuous motion because they were paid by the mile, hauling everything from expensive athletic shoes to potatoes through every state but two (the Dakotas) and into Canada. It was fun, Sharoo recalls, but it allowed for just three days a month back home in Weatherford, Tex. It became time to stay put for a while.
Sharoo managed a mobile home park in Weatherford while Steve continued to drive locally. Then, after an accident, he had no luck in a job search – even after sending out nearly a hundred resumes. He did much better when he tried his native Maine. His first contact landed him a spot at Friendly’s, and the family relocated to Gorham. Now Steve is a USM alumnus as well and employed at Unum, working at home and doubling as a househusband. Their kids are Rayne, age 10, and Ebbin, age 5.
Sharoo’s reverence for education remains undiminished, and her dream has been expanded: “Getting a bachelor’s degree changes who you are as a person. Whether you actually use it or not, you’re a better person. Now, instead of being in poverty, I’m in the middle class.”
“I want to change other people’s lives, as mine was changed.”
Student Profile by Jim Milliken, President & Principal Consultant at Jim Milliken, Inc.
Angelica Caterino is a go-getter. She went from Montpelier (Vermont) to Portland for a week’s training in grant writing, Returned home and immediately got a job as development director for a nonprofit housed in a historic old house.
Angelica also is a person of enthusiasm and a wide range of interests. She is currently working on a graduate degree in Colonial American History in an interdisciplinary Humanities Program through California State University. She reinterprets traditional folk songs as a hobby and art, plays the guitar and mandolin, collects old books, and dabbles in genealogy for fun.
History has always been a passion for Angelica, and in her mid-twenties she decided to pursue a degree, entering Johnson State College in Vermont, graduating Magna Cum Laude with a degree in history at the age of 32 (and picking up a certificate in business management along the way).
Angelica seems to find her interests wherever she goes. She became a work-study student in the development office, then worked there as an employee. One bonus of the job was the opportunity to work in the alumni archives, and she did a lot of research there. Her thesis was on the early history of the Normal Schools – or teachers’ colleges, many of which became the state colleges and universities of today, using Johnson State as a case study.
“I knew nothing about the field of development, but had an incredible mentor, Sally Laughlin,” she reports. “I always delve into the history of everything I touch, and I soon realized that it is actually a great field for a historical researcher – There is so much having to do with history in terms of personal legacy, institutional history, and a sense of place and memory to draw upon.”
After graduation, she went looking for a professional development course in grant writing to strengthen her fundraising credentials and found exactly what she was looking for in the program at USM Professional Development Programs.
After returning to Montpelier from her “working vacation” in Portland for the grant writing course, she heard about a development job with a nonprofit, Food Works at Two Rivers Center. The job, the organization, and the center itself fit perfectly with her varied interests.
The position had the added benefit of some flexibility, allowing Angelica to spend more time with her son Rowan, 8 (“the light of my life”).
Food Works has a variety of programs in cooking and nutrition for all ages, focusing on under-served populations, and offers low-cost food distribution to support local farmers and institutions.
The 25 year old organization bought a historic 1830s farmhouse that was once home to one of Montpelier’s original settlers, and is gradually preserving and restoring it. Eventually, it will be a multifunction education center for food and sustainable agriculture.
“I am the development coordinator – the sole fundraising staff – and in this job I get to be involved with so many of the things I love: food, people, the local economy, preservation, and the history of the place I live. It’s wonderful!”
Student Profile by Jim Milliken, President & Principal Consultant at Jim Milliken, Inc.
Joe started his Green Clean Maine business with sweat equity and an old Volvo station wagon in 2007, after seven years of wandering geographically and career-wise. He now employs 20 people and the business is growing 50 percent a year.
A friend’s wedding brought Joe from Rhode Island to Maine, with the prospect of enjoying a leisurely summer here before heading to California for grad school in urban planning.
To pay the rent in Portland, Joe got a job selling advertising for a environment-oriented coupon book, The Sunrise Guide.
Working with small businesses, Joe was attracted to that way of life. He also fell in love with Portland – the people, the walk ability, the lively activities, the easy access to natural beauty and the sensitivity to the environment.
He wanted to work in a “green” business, and expected to do that in California, where the newly-subsidized solar power industry was booming.
Joe’s “eureka moment” came after he and his colleagues at The Sunrise Guide realized that there were no green cleaning services among their clients. Checking into why, he got a surprise.
The two active green cleaning services in Portland told him they couldn’t advertise because they were too busy already. They were turning away homeowners and business operators who inquired.
By this time, Joe also realized he wanted to work for himself. His informational interviews about urban planning had cooled his interest in that profession.
Another thing: The Sunrise Guide had opened his eyes to a kind of business he had not known existed. “I thought of myself as too idealistic to go into business,” he explained. “I didn’t think of it as a virtuous pursuit.”
Now he knows better. He makes the products used by Green Clean Maine, with ingredients such as baking soda, vinegar, plant-based detergents and essential oils.
As his business prospered and his company grew, Joe learned what every entrepreneur does: There’s more to it than the product or service, and more than the numbers.
“I went from zero to 16 people in four years,” he noted. “I needed to learn how to manage people. I had an assistant manager who would ask me, ‘What do I do?’ I realized that our management challenges had become more complex and I needed help getting answers.”
His college courses in leadership had given him a basic understanding of management, but he needed to bridge the gap between theory and the day-to-day. So he went looking for training.
“I had a background in leadership, so I was a picky consumer.” He settled on the Certificate Program in Supervision presented by USM Professional and Continuing Education, and hasn’t been disappointed. “It absolutely worked,” for Joe and Green Clean Maine’s assistant manager, both of whom completed the series.
Joe Walsh has tended bar in Ireland and led citizens’ protests in Rhode Island. Now he provides clean homes and offices for the environmentally conscious in Portland, and his search for a virtuous occupation has ended.
Student Profile by Jim Milliken, President & Principal Consultant at Jim Milliken, Inc
When Susan Bassi Brown graduated from Colby College, she and a friend started a small business. Her friend handled sales and Susan was the “everything else” person. They formed a corporation because people told them they should. When she consulted a tax accountant and was asked for the books and records, Susan had no idea what he was talking about. She took an accounting course at Thomas College and found herself enjoying it.
“Something about the logic in it clicked with me,” she says. She liked the way accounting solved problems. “You can take something apart to see how it works, then make it work better.”
She worked on an MBA at Thomas College, but stopped the study in the midst of a busy life. Twenty years later, she picked it up again at USM, and earned her master’s in 2007. Along the way, she also earned insurance and investment licenses.
Today she is the chief financial officer of Garrand, a Portland ad agency.
Susan has repeated this process several times in her career, continuing her education whenever a new situation called for new skills. The process will result shortly in Susan’s earning a USM Certificate in Human Resource Management. Susan had thought of HR as a narrow and not particularly comfortable business necessity. She decided to go for the certificate anyway. HR comes under her supervision, and she had no particular background in it.
It’s been an eye-opener. “I’m enjoying it. It’s not at all what I thought. It’s tremendously valuable to me,” she says. “I have new respect for HR.” Now she finds herself advising fellow managers in a variety of ways that used to be handled through guesswork.
Human resources, she notes, is the largest cost item in a people-centered business, “a huge expense,” and her new understanding of its breadth has helped her help the Garrand organization: “We have integrated it into all the business planning we do, all the business modeling we do.”
She has found a comfortable fit as the financial officer in marketing organizations, where the creative culture is quite suited to a person of her nontraditional approach. She held that position for 18 years at CD&M in Portland, and has been at Garrand for six years.
Susan speaks highly of the open and supportive culture at Garrand. The organization has won national and state recognition for its quality as a place to work.
As a not-your-typical financial officer, it suits her just fine.
“Your brain is kind of a muscle – the more you exercise it and stretch it, the stronger and more flexible it becomes.”
That’s a quote from Chris Glancy, explaining why he took Project Management training workshops at USM despite his decades of experience in the work. In fact, Chris had already studied project management 25 years ago and earned certification in it.
Now he’s done it all again. He completed the three Continuing Education courses in the USM Certificate in Project Management program this year. Then he took the CCE prep course for the Project Management Professional certificate, and earned the PMP designation from the Project Management Institute.
Chris is a Project Manager for IBM, employing his long experience in project management in the Global Technology Services group working on transition and transformation project for companies outsourcing IT to IBM.
It is completely in character for him to be on a constant search for new ideas and broader fields of knowledge. He likes to take some kind of course (project management, philosophy, psychology, etc.) every year or two, then dive deep into the literature of the field.
He is never at a loss for an opinion, but he is acutely conscious of the need to gather and examine other viewpoints. “You can’t learn it all on your own,” he says. “I read books all the time and have my own perspective on things. But going to Continuing Education exposes you to different perspectives. Maybe someone has tried that out and know why it doesn’t work. . . .
“You’ve had this idea in your head for a long time. Now you hear yourself saying it out loud and you’re getting feedback, professional feedback. One reason I like taking classes is to keep the gray matter engaged.”
That balance between academic learning and the real world experience goes back a long way with Chris. He took a year off after his junior year as a USM undergrad, and started a commercial diving business with a buddy on the Carolina coast.
“That was probably the best education I ever had,” he believes. “I was at best a ‘C’ student. I went out and took a few courses in the school of hard knocks, then came back and was a straight-A student from then on.”
He earned a BA in communication from USM 1983, then an MBA from the University of New Hampshire in 1991.
His professional career includes two years with Northern Utilities, then 15 years in various roles, including project management, for Unum. Since 2000, he has done and led similar work at IBM, at a much higher level on much more complex projects.
Coming back to the project management classroom after a quarter-century, “seeing how the discipline has changed,” is a professional activity as well as an intellectual one.
“One of the key things Continuing Education does, it gives you the ability to see how things are applied in different situations. Other people share the breadth and depth of knowledge from their experience. You can’t get that in your own organization.”
It’s an essential element in a life-long quest for new and better ways (“With project management, you’re only as good as your last project. You have to be creative – find and use things that have never been tried before.”)
And it’s a serious matter: “There is no safe job any more. You have to keep updating your skill set.”
Keynote speaker Melissa Suey looked out over her audience and asked a question: How many people had tuition reimbursement available for training? About three-quarters raised their hands.
She asked a second question: How many were currently using the benefit? Three.
Melissa was making a point that represents a hallmark of her 19-year career: “Learn while you earn.” Take advantage of educational opportunities, formal or informal, on the job or in the classroom.
“Self-employed folks make it their business to gain up-to-date knowledge and skills. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be in business! In my opinion, we should all act like we are self-employed when it comes to our own development, especially in this tough job market.” Melissa has done an impressive amount of training, and her high praise for USM’s Nancy Ansheles and Peggy Page carries significant value.
Melissa is training and development manager for Delhaize America, the parent organization of Maine’s Hannaford Brothers supermarket chain, and is based in Scarborough. She leads a team that trains the people conducting Delhaize supply chain operations - from product sourcing and category management through pricing and getting goods to the stores.
Melissa Suey has had a varied career. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in journalism from Bowling Green State University in Ohio, then worked as a television reporter/anchor, marketing consultant, media relations and marketing trainer, and then honed her entrepreneurial skills consulting with small businesses.
Along the way, her talents and interests led her into advising her clients beyond marketing – in relevant business issues and other areas in their lives. She realized that in order to really help her clients see where they were stuck and move forward, she needed to coach the whole person. It was then that she invested 120 hours in professional coach training from the highly acclaimed Coaches Training Institute and subsequently founded Red Sky Leadership, a coaching and training company.
As she continued to coach and facilitate groups, she felt she needed more. “Most of my education around training was informal, so I felt it was important to get that formal training,” she explained. “That’s why I so appreciated Nancy and Peggy. They are experts and are DOING it in their current work– practicing what they teach.
“Besides the new knowledge, the courses reinforced what I was doing. That gives you confidence.
“The added value was getting to know my fellow participants. I can’t emphasize enough the value of building relationships with your peers in the industry. There were professionals from all over Maine, large and small organizations. We still share best practices and lean on each other for feedback.
“And I send my employees to USM. It is part of their job to come back and share what they’ve learned.”
She now is the mother of two children and, besides her full-time position with Delhaize, coaches several clients and delivers occasional keynote speeches through Red Sky Leadership. It comes as no surprise to hear she is currently enrolled in a training program to prepare her for the rigorous credentialing process with the International Coach Federation.
With her current responsibilities, as well as her broad career background and extensive training experience, Melissa knows exactly why the USM training is so important.
“There is no such thing as job security,” Melissa says. “WE are our job security – it’s all in here (indicating herself). It’s all about your knowledge, skills, experience, talents, work ethic, reputation... Whether you are working for an organization or self-employed, you take those with you wherever you go.”
USM Professional Development Programs - Student Profile
His company is OMNIA Technologies Inc., but Robert P. Marsh is as much a business-process problem-solver as he is an international telecommunications expert.
That’s why he appreciates the Professional & Continuing Education courses he takes at USM. His everyday work life at this level directly engages knowledge from the courses he has taken.
Bob founded the Portland-based company in 1998. Today, he designs and implements telecommunication systems, locally and across the United States, Mexico, and Canada.
“People want to buy technology,” he says, “but they also need to improve their business process. It could be any one, sales, order management etc.
“Often the customer will ask, ‘What do our processes have to do with telecommunications?’ My reply is, ‘When we improve business processes, then match those to the needed technology, we’ll have greater success.’”
Marsh has taken numerous courses through the Professional & Continuing Education Program at USM, beginning nearly 20 years ago with Project Management, and more currently with Business Coaching courses. Just this year he completed Lean Six Sigma Training, to the Black Belt level.
Bob has added an internationally accredited Professional Certification in Corporate Coaching.
He is a voracious researcher and reader, and it’s a good thing. His profession is “changing by the day. It was changing by the month five years ago and by the week three years ago,” he says. “I’m astounded by the rate at which it evolves, but we are intending to stay ahead of the curve. We are constantly on the lookout for advancing technologies, culling out the not-so-good, vetting the others and ultimately choosing to work with the best.”
“I want to be prepared to walk into a business and have that business say, ‘Yeah, you’re the company who can help us.’
“Initially we spend time with the customer helping define their technological challenge and contrast how that might map to a fractured or flawed business process. Then, with a new process, we design and implement a new telecommunication system”.
He credits the USM courses with adding value to his professional skill set.
“Just this morning I met with a customer wrestling with a business problem who was convinced technology would eliminate the problem. After a few hours of assessment, we concluded that the problem was in fact process- and technology-related. . . .”
“Education? I love it!” During a previous 13-year career at Digital Equipment Corporation, Bob estimates he took “two hundred weeks” of training. USM, he says, has been a worthy extension of that professional learning continuum.
In addition to the noncredit training, Bob took a heavy load of courses for two years to earn his BS in Industrial Technology at USM.
With focus and determination, Bob Marsh leads a team to design and implement state-of-the-art technology across the continent. He enthusiastically credits the USM programs for providing vital support for that work.
As a problem-solver, he knows how and where to stock his toolkit.