Project Leadership

Applying leadership to Strategy, People, Climate in Project & Program Management

Project Leadership Case Studies Sessions

Project leadership encompasses the human aspects of project management that impact strategy, people and climate inherent in any project. These skills surpass mastery of a project management methodology, and make up a more advanced perspective that includes the attitudes, skills and behaviors that define a leader.

This year’s forum explores the leadership acumen to accomplish project success in spite of the turbulence, uncertainty and ambiguity that permeate organizations today. Themes such as developing agility and resilience, communicating up, down and sideways, identifying priorities, assessing sources of strength and weakness, and creating trust and credibility will be explored.

Best Practice Interactive Case Studies

Facilitated by project stakeholders, including the client sponsor and/or the project manager, the 90-minute case study session will give participants an opportunity to explore how leadership factors contributed to the project’s success or failure, and to identify how they can address future projects differently by applying best practices and lessons learned from this project.

The case study sessions give project managers and team leaders an interactive small-group forum to:

  • Discuss the problem to be solved, goals, challenges and available resources for the project
  • Understand the context affecting the project, including issues of strategy, people and organizational culture
  • Identify and address critical decisions that presented a leadership opportunity
  • Recommend a course of action that would address the challenges in the project
  • Apply leadership principles by identifying the behaviors, approaches and attitudes that impact the project outcomes
  • Participate in a dynamic group discussion that translates lessons learned into applicable take-aways
  • Learn new approaches through sharing experiences and ideas with peers


2011 Project Leadership Case Studies


"Overcoming Legacy to Implement Modern Technology Systems and Achieve Strategic Positioning,"
Larry Fortin, CIO, Millers Mutual Insurance

This case study will focus on the recent implementation of an on-line rating and quoting system for agents at Millers Mutual Insurance. This project is but one aspect of a six year strategic IT plan, which is in support of an overarching strategy for Millers to redefine itself.

The business problem: Millers' agents are writing business with other insurance carriers, because they are much easier to do business with. Millers' competitors have provided their agents with an online portal to access estimated cost proposals. In contrast, for most of Millers' product lines, cost estimates are developed through phone or paper document exchange and take hours or days to provide. The goal of the project is to implement a state of the art on-line rating and quoting system that would provide Millers' agents with the ability to quote most risks within minutes and submit the information to the Millers' home office electronically. The project needs to be done within the boundaries of the overall IT architectural strategy and needs to be completed within a 12 month period.

CIO Larry Fortin will discuss how the project was completed in 9 months, within 15% of projected cost estimates, and led to increased revenues in 2010. He will explore topics such as the importance of action plans and scheduling, communications, the 'lilly pad effect,' personnel changes, and stakeholder support, such as training and customer service. He will also share his perspectives on working with vendors, and staying in-tune with business challenges, strategy and operations.
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"Leadership in International Projects"
Robert Marsters, PMP, Director of International Business, GeoDecisions, a division of Gannett Fleming

Mosque Development Support System, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. In 2009, GeoDecisions was contracted by the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC) to design, develop and deploy an Emirate wide Mosque Development Support System. The system allows the UPC to evaluate the fit of a recommended mosque site and associated services, as proposed by a private developer. The system allows the UPC to conduct a semi-automated analysis to proactively determine optimal mosque site locations. The system takes into consideration population demographics and Mosque capacities to model supply and demand and rank suitability. This case study will cover many leadership challenges, including but not limited to multiple stakeholders, new business workflows, distributed development team, international realities (time zones, work week, cultures, language and religion) and project risks.
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"Leading the Unconventional Convention Center Project"
Dave Angle, Chief Operating Officer, Reynolds Construction, and Mark Fitzgerald, President and Chief Operating Officer, High Associates Ltd

The Lancaster Marriott and Lancaster County Convention Center project, led by High Associates and Reynolds Construction was an extremely complex development project — possibly the most complex some project managers will face in their career. The project would ultimately serve a variety of public and private stakeholders, with assorted business, technical, financial, historic preservation and community-oriented requirements and strategic goals. Community members from Lancaster and the surrounding region are likely to recall some of the many 'ups and downs' that the project faced on the road to becoming a reality. From project inception through owner occupancy, sessions leaders will explore some of the challenges and courses of action taken to keep the project moving forward. Project managers who attend this session will explore the challenges and the overall achievements of the project from those who were at its helm. Learn what it takes to manage a high-stakes project like this, and what leadership principles these leaders say contributed to the successful completion, of what some consider, the crown jewel in Lancaster's downtown revitalization!

"Leadership—It's not rocket science. Unless, you're a NASA project manager"
Edward Rogers, PhD, Chief Knowledge Officer, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Dr. Rogers will return to the Project Leadership Forum for a second year to discuss how he works with engineers and leaders at NASA to learn from past projects and improve new missions. This session will examine one of the more complex projects at the Goddard Space Flight Center and illustrate how project managers, senior leaders and engineers are impacted by issues of organizational culture, diverse stakeholders perspectives, and the organization's complex mission.

"Supporting the Marcellus Shale Boom"
Marc Reeves, P.G., Vice President Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) Energy Environment and Infrastructure, LLC

This case study will focus on the staffing and quality management while supporting diverse environmental and engineering projects in the Marcellus Shale footprint. Natural gas producers have already invested more than $4 billion in Pennsylvania in lease and land acquisition, new well drilling, infrastructure development and community partnerships, with an even greater investment expected in the future.

The business problem: The Marcellus shale is present beneath areas of Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, and West Virginia where SAIC did not have existing local offices or staff. To meet the demands of our customers, local offices and staff were required within narrow timelines (typically less than 2 months). Many of SAIC's competitors already have longstanding offices within the Marcellus footprint and SAIC had to respond quickly to demands in order to preserve clients and posture for future growth. In addition, all new staff brought into the Program must be trained on strict quality and safety requirements.

Vice President Marc Reeves will discuss the range of projects and demands of the diverse client base. He will detail how over 40 new program staff were deployed within a 2 month period with both the quality and safety of the work maintained. He will also discuss the challenges of establishing a local presence in rural areas while minimizing costs.
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"Behind the Scenes: Multiple Personalities of the State Water Plan"
Lori Mohr, Special Projects Manager in the Pennsylvania DEP, Water Planning Office

Supplied with a prescriptive legislative Act, a requirement to work with 169 committee members, and no dedicated funding for a monumental update to the Pennsylvania State Water Plan, a small staff of DEP employees were able to produce a multi-faceted, twenty-first century water plan for the citizens of the Commonwealth. The State Water Plan brings together multiple interests in water resources planning from regions and stakeholders around the state.
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What makes the Project Leadership programs unique?

The program focuses on the interpersonal aspects of managing people. Through interactive case studies, you'll examine actual projects and learn about the leadership factors that impacted the project's outcome. Exchange lessons learned with peers, and hear about the techniques successful project leaders consider essential. Instructional seminars will explain key theories and principles that are the foundation for effective leadership behaviors.



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