Meet Emily Greenwood, VP of Operations & Project Management!
Emily Greenwood is the Real Deal. She’s our Vice President of Operations and Project Management and she oversees all of our day to day operations. She creates and puts in place new processes to help our agency run smarter and more efficiently. She runs our weekly allocations so smoothly you’d think they were oiled. She seamlessly multitasks her way through account tracking, project scoping, client check ins, manager meetings, and more. Essentially, she runs Isovera behind the scenes – keeping all the pieces of our agency communicating, moving, and in sync.
To better understand some of the things that Emily directs, we sat down for a quick interview with her!
What’s your professional backstory?
I majored in literature in college, but after graduating I had no idea what I wanted to do. I ended up doing both of my co-ops at an IT company and loved learning a lot about tech and software development and content.
After collegeI went on to work at the same IT company full time. Eventually, I decided to do my masters in programs and project management. Both of my degrees gave me critical thinking, analytical, and communication skills that help me bridge the gap between tech and client.
To date, I’ve spent nearly my entire career managing tech projects and, while I wouldn’t consider myself a tech nerd, I love working with the tech nerds!
What fuels you?
This may come as a shock but deadlines and getting things done well and on time! Problem solving also drives me – if there’s a challenge, I can’t stop thinking of how to solve that–it’ll keep me up at night!
You sit at the convergence of operations & project management; how would you describe your role?
For me, project management and operations go hand in hand–or maybe even are one in the same. As a project manager I need to manage the product we offer and, to do that, we need solid operations. So in a way, the PM aspect is setting up goals and tracking progress, and that converges with the operations aspect of creating organizational processes that enable us to hit those goals.
What’s the secret to a successful project?
Building good relationships! I’ve felt that for me, it’s often more important who I work with than what I work on, so a great project is one where it feels like our team and the client have a true partnership. I love when a client comes to us and both shares their ideas as well as listens to new suggestions, and I especially love when they are as passionate about and invested in their project as we are!
Aside from that, two big pieces of success come down to a clearly defined scope (a scope that both the client & the project team fully understand and agree on) and great communication (including frequency of communicating, the quality of understanding, and what’s being communicated).
Do you have any “white whales” at Isovera?
Scope! Everything from defining what project success is and what’s included in it, to getting everyone on the same page about what a “task completed” means.
Scope is also ever evolving, so when we’re defining it, we need to ensure we all have the same information and the same depth of that information. Making sure we have all the parts of scope really well defined and understood helps us make intelligent decisions. For scoping out projects, this often includes defining and understanding the intent and need behind things like budget estimates, scheduling, deliverables, process to delivery, client involvement, feedback, timeline, and more.
While we have a really solid collaborative process in place so that we’re able to tackle defining scope in a nimble and collaborative manner, it will always be something that changes with every project and every team’s different needs and asks and expectations.
What’s one thing you wish every client knew going into a project?
For big projects, I’d say it’s key for the client to understand who on their team wants to be involved and at what level of involvement they’re expecting (and are expected) to have.
For instance, it’s key to know who wants to be included in the decision making vs who just wants updates on what’s going on. Knowing this from the start is super important and can help keep projects on timeline, and within budget and scope. I think most commonly projects go out of scope when new stakeholders decide late on that they’d like to get involved, and this causes delays and scope creep.
Managing projects & operational processes during COVID must be intense–have you experienced any big changes?
If I had a crystal ball, the one thing I wish I could have seen was that we were going to be hit by this COVID-19 pandemic! Working in a time with COVID has been interesting, especially with a remote workforce. I’ve always worked somewhat remote but never fully, so it’s been a new experience. I will say that with the remote working I definitely do feel more efficient, but I miss the face to face with my team and clients, and the ways that meeting with teams in-person can foster a strong relationship.
One thing I’ve learned from these times – and it’s been a big learning curve overall – is to have more compassion and to keep in mind that sometimes things just happen.
Any tips for building relationships in the age of social distancing and remote working?
I’d recommend not being afraid to hop on zoom – or your video conferencing software of choice – and turning on your camera when you do so (i know, sometimes easier said than done). I’d also recommend holding less formal meetings with clients and trying to get to know them on new levels; talk about the little life things, like your kids, or your four legged friends, or even recent recipes!
What are some of your favorite tools for operations & project management?
For me, project management and operations are one in the same, but I’d recommend having some of the following:
- A time tracking system (such as Harvest)
- A ticketing management system (such as Zenhub, trello, or jira)
- A forecasting and resourcing tools (such as Forecast or Google spreadsheets)
- A pm scheduling software (such as smartsheets)
- A system for budget reporting and building (such as Google spreadsheets)
- Channels for communication (such as Slack for instant messaging & Basecamp or Confluence for keeping a single source of information)
Are there any irreplaceable skills you’ve found yourself relying on as a PM & Ops person?
Being detailed oriented, well organized, and a good communicator! I think almost everything else can be taught, but those are three tried and true skills that I think are imperative.
Do you have any resources you’d recommend for staying atop of industry happenings?
Absolutely! I really like some of the Slack channels you can join, especially digital project manager channels where you can interact with peers.
For a more formal training, I’d recommend the PMP courses offered by the Project Management Institute. The Project Management Institute is great in general; lots of the principles they teach are actually used in many other processes too.
More generally, I also like to stay up to date on industry publications, so something like Adage.
Ok–last question! It’s an important one–if you had a superhero name, what would it be?