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Finding Adventure in Project Management

We’re big fans of adventure – after all, what interesting project isn’t one? – and so we’re especially excited (stoked, even) to have Leslie Springer, director-engagement and PMO for Maverik Inc., as one of our speakers at Oracle Industry Connect this April in New York City.

With a rapidly growing footprint that today includes more than 300 store locations in the western United States, Maverik (aka “Adventure’s First Stop”), wanted to modernize and enhance its capital project management processes to support the company’s continued expansion. In her presentation at Oracle Industry Connect, Leslie will explore Maverik’s journey with Primavera Unifier—seen as one of the best implementations by the PMO—including how the initiative won key support from the sponsor and subject matter experts, and the critical role of end user involvement in managing any successful solution rollout.

We recently sat down with Leslie to learn more about her background and how she approaches her work.

What path led you to your current role?

LS: Spending the last 10 years at a company that lives and breathes adventure, I can earnestly say that my career has been just that—an adventure.  With no specific career in mind, I began my early pursuits in marketing with the mindset that a foundation in how to make a business profitable and relatable to its customers would support any future endeavors, which it has. After working in various management roles in vastly different industries, I really found my passion was in problem solving and relationship building. I was able to leverage this while learning how the company works from the ground up, and as my knowledge and experience grew, so did my career.  Little did I know that early concepts in relationship management and driving solutions would lead me from roles in merchandising, loyalty development, and brand management straight to project management and more. I’ve spent the last several years honing the skills and knowledge I attained from those seemingly unrelated areas to develop as a successful project manager and leader.

Other than your current work, what’s the most interesting initiative or project you’ve worked on?

LS: Early on in my project management endeavors, my boss walked in and said, “You’re running the credit switch project.” My response: “Ok, what’s a credit switch?” From there on out I learned the intricacies of payment systems and how broadly they are intertwined with every aspect of the business, including the potential risks from the simplest misunderstanding. It was through this project that I really understood what it meant to be a great project manager. There seems to be a misapprehension that PMs just coordinate and communicate status and deliverables of a project; a PM does so much more than that. Leadership and an intimate knowledge of how to expertly and efficiently run a project is a trade every bit as much as an accountant or attorney. The skill set is not one you just come by, but is definitely more innate to certain personalities. With that balance of skill and demeanor come some of the best PMs I have seen in my career—and that’s something I continue to develop myself. That along with standing a PMO while managing projects and hiring, developing and retaining great talent are where my passions lie, which makes just about everything we do very interesting to me.

What’s the best advicepersonal or professionalyou’ve ever received?

Oddly enough, my grandmother always used to tell me “how blessed we are that our problems can be solved with money.” Anyone who has had to run a project wrought with cross-departmental turmoil or lack of appropriate support can relate to how much easier it would be if we could just throw money at it and solve the problem! Oftentimes, getting buy-in and support to implement complex or even simple solutions floundering under contempt is far more difficult than building a case to fund a project. And while I don’t think this is the exact intent of her words, it has helped me refocus on using the right tools at my disposal to navigate such difficulties. Thanks for the insight, grandma!  

Many other innovators and big thinkers will join Leslie at Oracle Industry Connect to share their stories of successful business transformation. Visit the event site to learn more about our full program and to register to attend. 

 

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