VP of Global Experience & Solutions at Project Management Institute (PMI) Michael DePrisco wanted to be a high school history teacher growing up.
True enough, Michael DePrisco earned a bachelor’s degree in Education, as well as a master’s degree in Higher Education and Counseling.
Likewise, Michael DePrisco also holds a “Certificate in Company Direction (International) from the Institute of Directors.” He also works with a lot of youth and educational programs in his community.
This experience in education has guided Michael DePrisco to begin working for PMI as the Vice President of Academic and Educational Programs.
Over the years, Michael DePrisco has held several different positions at the company. He went from “academic programs to lead our Global Membership & Chapters,” until he became VP of Global Experience & Solutions.
Michael DePrisco is proud to work with PMI. The company is the “premier champion and advocate for the project, program and portfolio management community.”
Likewise, Michael DePrisco takes pride in working with a company that is “committed to not only empowering and serving as a resource for all change-makers in the workplace and companies that employ them.”
Michael DePrisco and PMI also honor “change-makers through our awards and Most Influential Projects lists.”
Check out more interviews with committed executives here.
It’s not just about talking about what needs to get done, it’s about taking action. Michael DePrisco, PMI
Jerome Knyszewski: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Michael DePrisco: Project Management Institute (PMI) is the premier champion and advocate for the project, program and portfolio management community.
But beyond that, PMI is committed to not only empowering and serving as a resource for all change-makers in the workplace and companies that employ them, but also honoring these change-makers through our awards and Most Influential Projects lists.
We empower employees based on traditional PM skills and encourage teams to develop different “power” skills — including greater communication and more emotional intelligence and empathy.
PMI offers Resources for the New Work Ecosystem with a variety of free resources and virtual events to learn new ways of working and deliver the training and professional skills necessary to thrive in this dynamic environment, as well as to help build skills and prepare to advance in a post-COVID-19 world.
As more organizations are finding themselves working and collaborating in new ways, they are leaning on employees at all levels of the organization to spur change — even while remote.
At PMI, we encourage our leaders ensure their teams are active partners in driving positive change — for business and society — and here are some ways to do so:
- (Business Direction) Have a Definition of Done: Teams should begin with the end in mind. By establishing the big picture vision of the future, with quantifiable and achievable goals, everyone on the team understands what they are working towards.
- (Implementation) Be Students of Execution: It’s not just about talking about what needs to get done, it’s about taking action.
Outline the ways of working and assess what’s working/what’s not working as you go to continue to optimize as you drive forward as a team.
- (Value) Channel the End Customer: Every project has an end customer, be it a consumer or internal stakeholder.
Be sure to put them at the center and constantly integrate their feedback to ensure what you are driving towards creates value for them, your team and business.
But as an organization, at PMI, we have created a culture that proactively navigates change by educating, reskilling and training our workforce with the skills needed to facilitate change to help future-proof our organization from any disruption.
And this is where we pride ourselves on being able to help change-makers and their respective organizations to do the same.
In fact, organizations that transform quickly are almost 2x as likely to focus on developing internal talent, according to Brightline’s Strategic Transformation Research.
Jerome Knyszewski: Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Michael DePrisco: Moving to a full-time remote schedule presented many challenges to individuals across the board.
Workloads increased with longer hours and stress levels went up as there were many unknowns with the coronavirus pandemic causing difficulties with ‘powering off’.
The lines got blurred of when the workday began and ended since it all took place in your home. Some tips that have helped me through this difficult transition include:
- Create some separation by working in one part of your home.
By creating a designated workspace in my house, it helps to mentally separate home from work.
- Organize your meeting schedule in way that makes sense for you and allows you to get up from your computer.
I try to schedule times throughout the day that don’t require me to participate in a virtual meeting.
- Take time to decompress throughout the day.
I enjoy taking a walk in the middle of the day or have a virtual chat with friends or family.
Jerome Knyszewski: None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Michael DePrisco: I credit my wife of 26 years as the person who has provided the most support and encouragement to my career.
Without her, I wouldn’t be where I am.
She gives me the space to do the things I need to do to grow professionally, whether by taking on challenging assignments or taking risks with new opportunities.
Beyond being my biggest supporter, I can absolutely say she is also my personal counselor.
She is there to celebrate the wins and keep me grounded when things are hectic.
Delegation is an important skill for anyone — whether you’re a CEO, a project manager, anything.
Jerome Knyszewski: Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. Delegating effectively is a challenge for many leaders. Let’s put first things first. Can you help articulate to our readers a few reasons why delegating is such an important skill for a leader or a business owner to develop?
Michael DePrisco: Delegation is an important skill for anyone — whether you’re a CEO, a project manager, anything.
It’s a vital part of managing a team and deadlines.
It became even more vital during the pandemic with greater stress levels in and out of work due to the fear of not knowing the consequences and conclusions arising from COVID-19.
Everyone was trying new things and stepping into the unknown. At the same time, the work-life divide was blurred — work was becoming home, and home was work.
Professionals had to find that correct balance between delegation and empathy for the rest of your team members.
In recent research at PMI, nearly half (49%) of business leaders who said their company successfully navigated the challenges of COVID-19, believe that teamwork and collaboration made them successful.
That being said, I think we are all still trying to perfect this process.
The pandemic notwithstanding, delegation is key for maintaining mental health and motivation in the workplace.
Not having breaks and being consistently overworked is demotivating, and team members need to delegate to overcome it.
I’ve seen many articles discussing how burnout rates have been exponentially higher due to the pandemic, and delegation can be a key response, at least from a work perspective.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you help articulate a few of the reasons why delegating is such a challenge for so many people?
Michael DePrisco: Delegation is a form of change, which can be tough for many people who are used to certain processes or ways of working.
The first key acknowledgement that needs to be made when delegating is recognizing that there will be change and others have alternative ways of working.
But this is also the beauty of delegation — it introduces fresh thinking and ideas.
On a much larger scale, it can lead to professionals challenging the “sacred cows” — those processes that are seemingly immune to criticism or change.
On a smaller scale, it can lead to team members finding new ways to streamline projects and deliverables.
Another key challenge for those delegating is finding the balance between delegation and empathy for team members, as I said.
Many times, professionals will try to delegate everything or nothing at all.
Finding the balance is a skill, and one that allows you to manage your and your team’s workloads and morale.
Jerome Knyszewski: In your opinion, what pivots need to be made, either in perspective or in work habits, to help alleviate some of the challenges you mentioned?
Michael DePrisco: Time management is huge — finding a way to delegate tasks to other team members and talking to them regularly to make sure the workload is spread out can help prevent burnout.
Additionally, finding a way to compartmentalize your mind and physical space can be a great asset as well.
Splitting your day up into work time and rest time can also help you regenerate.
If you live with your family, be empathetic because they are probably not used to seeing you with work stress.
And lastly, finding a relaxing hobby not related to work is critical.
Finding the balance is a skill, and one that allows you to manage your and your team’s workloads and morale. Michael DePrisco
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Michael DePrisco: Given the current state of the world, people are looking for ways to give back to their community and to those in need.
As organizations build their way back from this crisis, they’re going to strive to build a better future with a better understanding of their environment.
Corporate social responsibility will have an increased presence to attract talent and create a good brand name.
People are more inclined to look at how they value these companies, not just from a monetary perspective, but also from a social perspective.
This will help people focus on the commercial bottom-line as well as the company’s values.
In response, businesses must find ways to measure their social impact through their projects.
In our latest Pulse of the Profession report, Why Social Impact Matters, only 35 percent of respondents reported using methods to measure the social impact of their projects.
This will need to be a priority moving forward.
One of the reasons why I joined PMI was because of the social impact that they have on our community through initiatives like last year’s Global Celebration of Service, where PMI chapters pledged to contribute more than 150,000 hours to help the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Michael DePrisco: Feel free to give me a follow on LinkedIn.
It’s always great engaging with my network and I love hearing new ideas and experiences. I also encourage you to check out PMI’s Blog.
I, along with my colleagues at PMI, are active regularly on the blog sharing our thoughts on some of the most pressing business discussions, including the future of work, AI, no-code and low-code platforms, and much more.
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!