We are looking for Speakers

As a seasoned project manager, have you ever thought about the fact that your everyday work experience executing projects results in valuable lessons learned.  Your experiences provide an extremely valuable learning opportunity, but only if they are shared with other practitioners.  It does not matter if those other project managers work at the same company or even in the same industry.  Project Management best practices and lessons learned transcend all industry types.

Your job is demanding and as a result you’ve got stories. War stories, success stories, failures, and lessons learned. The Project Management community wants to hear them!

We, at the University of Maryland (UMD) Project Management Center for Excellence, recognize the importance of sharing your project management experiences, best practices and lessons learned.  Seven years ago, we initiated the development of an annual two-day project management symposium which allows project managers from any industry the opportunity to share their knowledge and experiences.

Over 600 project managers will participate in the VIRTUAL Symposium On April 22-23, 2021. They attend to hear from each other, ask questions, and learn together. It’s a community that’s growing and open to anyone interested and involved in project management.

As a previous speaker at UMD’s annual event, Joseph Launi, President of Project Management Experts indicated that, “as PMPs we are responsible to spread the word to the project management community.  UMD’s Symposium is an opportunity to evangelize in the practice of project management and transfer knowledge to others.”

There are many reasons why you might want to consider presenting and sharing your stories, at our April 2021 event.

  • Share your story and connect with other like-minded professionals
  • Recording of live presentation, PowerPoint slides, and paper (if developed) available for participants to view after the event is over
  • Potentially get published in the online PM World Journal or featured in a PM Point of View podcast
  • Earn “Give Back” PMI PDUs to prepare and deliver your presentation
  • A very flexible submission process plus helpful symposium staff

The number one reason to consider presenting is simply to share your personal project management experiences with others – or Giving Back to the project management community in which you participate.  After having volunteered her time to assist with our Symposium for two years, Pamela Davis-Ghavami, an IT Project Manager with the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, finally decided to submit an abstract to be a session speaker. “I decided it was time for me to speak at the symposium because I felt that I had something to say,” she stated. “I initially volunteered at the symposium to get the PDU’s I needed to maintain my PMP certification and my agency’s training funds were limited. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting like-minded professionals and was impressed that they were open to sharing their experiences and best practices.”  That’s when Pamela decided it was time for her to share her own experiences and highly encourages others to share theirs as well.  “You should think about what you have accomplished in your career or what barriers you have had to overcome to reach your professional goals. Those are the stories that help other project managers reach new heights in their careers.”

We all have something to say that can encourage someone else to achieve their goals.”  – Pamela Davis-Ghavami

“If there is a topic you are passionate about within project management, submit a proposal. If you are passionate about your topic, others will be passionate to attend your presentation and hear what you have to share with them!” stated Susan Parente, Principal Consultant at S3 Technologies, LLC. Susan has participated as a speaker at the symposium for six years.

Johnny Morgan, Senior Solutions Architect from General Dynamics Information Technology has participated as a speaker for three years.   He received feedback from participants about the value of his presentations.  He commented, “I received feedback that my presentation contained very concrete recommendations that future PMs could quickly use.   I really enjoyed hearing that someone found value in my papers and presentations.”

Since the University of Maryland is recording all live sessions, once you have delivered your presentation during the live virtual event, your content will still be available for symposium participants plus anyone who might have missed the live event to review afterwards*.  Any papers developed and the PowerPoint slides will also be made available.  This is a great benefit to symposium participants since, with five concurrent sessions tracks, it is impossible to attend all sessions.  Posting them online allows participants to view sessions they missed at a later date.  Johnny Morgan stated, “There are a couple of presentations that I reviewed later that have been particularly interesting and I am planning to reference them in future papers for other journals.”  Posting them online following the event also allows project management professionals who were unable to attend the symposium to also access your material which continues the transfer knowledge process.  It should be noted that anyone who missed the event and wants to review the recorded sessions online will need to pay the Symposium registration fee to obtain access.

Anyone who develops a paper for the Symposium has the opportunity to get published in two different ways.  First, all papers developed are published under ISSN 2374-9377.  Papers developed from every symposium held to date are posted on the symposium website under “Previous Symposiums.”  Second, our media sponsor, the PM World Journal, selects between 6-12 papers for republication in their online journal.  Session speaker, Johnny Morgan, had several papers published.  He commented that, “All three of my papers were picked up by the PM World Journal and republished in their online web publication so exposure has the possibility of going further than just the UMD Symposium and its associated website.”

Highlights of speakers from the 2020 Symposium are being featured in three PM Point of View Podcasts.  UMD has teamed with host Kendall Lott to produce the podcasts to share and engage the key knowledge and practices from the 2020 event’s lineup of talented speakers. The first podcast, Culture and Fit from the 2020 UMD Symposium, was released in July 2020 and featured two 2020 symposium speakers.  View the article to find out more information about the podcast.  Two speakers were featured in the September 2020 podcast, Project Perspective: The Bigger Picture.  The final three speakers were featured in the October 2020 podcast, Agile Today from the 2020 UMD Symposium.  The podcasts are posted on the PMI WDC website, or downloadable from iTunes and TuneIn so project managers can listen and learn long after the podcast is developed.  Three podcasts are also being planned to feature speakers from the April 22-23, 2021 VIRUAL Project Management Symposium.

The ability to earn Project Management Institute (PMI) Giving Back Professional Development Units (PDUs) is an excellent reason for presenting at any conference, including the UMD Project Management Symposium.  According to the PMI Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR) Handbook, you can earn PDUs for both the creation (Create Content) of your paper and/or presentation plus actually making the presentation (Give a Presentation).  You can earn one PDU for every hour spent creating and presenting content.  The website indicates that you can earn a maximum of 25 PDUs in the Giving Back category with 17 of those eligible for “Volunteering and Creating Knowledge.”  Once completed, you would report your PDUs on PMI’s online continuing certification renewal system.

Aimee Baxter a Finance Systems Specialist at Macalester College in Minnesota has presented at UMD’s Symposium.  She stated, “I had recently published an article for PMI and I thought it would be a great way to Give Back and see what the reaction was to my ideas from other Project Managers.”

UMD’s Project Management Symposium is the perfect venue for busy project managers.  The submission process is very flexible and the UMD team is easy to work with. Previous speaker, Susan Parente stated, “The UMD Symposium is not like any other project management conference that I have ever attended and the UMD team does a phenomenal job welcoming and supporting speakers like no other conference does.” Another previous speaker, Mr. Johnny Morgan, stated “The UMD Project Management Symposium offers the lowest barrier of entry for anyone to share their experiences and lessons learned with other practitioners in the field.” The submission process is indeed extremely flexible. Initially, all you have to do is develop and submit an abstract.  When you submit, you can choose whether you want to develop a paper and a presentation or just a presentation.  UMD does not require you to develop both; the presentation is the only requirement.  There are many advantages to developing the paper, like being published in the PM World Journal, but it is definitely not a requirement.  After you submit an abstract, you are notified within a few months if your abstract is accepted.  At that point in the process, you still have plenty of time to develop your paper and/or presentation.

Pamela Davis-Ghavami sums up her participation in the UMD Symposium as a speaker, “It allows you the opportunity to share your project management experiences externally as well as participate and be the recipient of new ideas from others in your field.  In order to learn new ideas, it is important to get out of the office and interact with others in the field.”

If you are interested in challenging yourself and sharing your project management experiences with other practitioners in the industry, UMD is now accepting presentation abstracts for their April 22-23, 2021 VIRTUAL Project Management Symposium. Find out more information and see the Topics of Interest.  Abstracts will be accepted through midnight (eastern time) on Thursday, November 19, 2020.


*A small $25 fee will apply for Symposium participants to have access to the recorded sessions following the live event on April 22-23, 2021.  Anyone who missed the live event and would like access to the recorded sessions will need to pay the full Symposium registration fee.



UMD’s First “VIRTUAL” Project Management Symposium Deemed a Success!

The last minute change to a VIRTUAL delivery did not alter the outcome of the University of Maryland’s (UMD) annual Project Management Symposium held on May 7-8, 2020.  Amazing, wonderful, outstanding, awesome, fantastic, exceptional and exceeding expectations were some of the expressions used to describe the two-day event!  Survey results indicated that a whopping 99 percent of attendees stated they would attend another UMD Project Management Symposium as well as recommend the event to their colleagues.

Also gleaned from survey results were the top five reasons participants attended the event which included:

  • Gain insights I can implement
  • PDUs
  • Interesting Topics
  • Great Price
  • Learn or Sharpen PM Skills

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Symposium had to be converted from an in-person event to a virtual one in only five weeks. Thanks to amazing and adaptable speakers, UMD maxed out the number of sessions that could offered over the two days in a virtual environment.  This first-ever VIRTUAL Project Management Symposium featured four (4) keynotes and fifty-five (55) individual sessions in five (5) concurrent tracks.  A total of 64 different speakers presented on trending topics, best practices, lessons learned and case studies to five hundred and sixty project management professionals representing 273 different organizations from government, non-profits, industry and academia. “I was a little concerned about the virtual experience,” stated Laura Sharps, an Engineering Supervisor for Jacobs.  “However, UMD pulled it off exceptionally.  The content was awesome and I have lots of new ideas to take back to my team!”  Meisha Watkins, Strategic Initiative Project Manager for the U.S. Postal Service stated, “The 2020 symposium was the perfect intersection of practical industry application & theory.  Despite being online, I felt connected and ‘in the room’ with all of the speakers and moderators. Great job!”

Keynote speaker Mark Brown, Chief Operating Officer, Federal Student Aid, U.S. Department of Education kicked off the second day of the two-day live symposium on May 7-8, 2020.  

So how did the experience actually work?  All registered participants received instructions on how to access a password-protected online version of the VIRTUAL schedule.  That schedule included a description of each session, speaker photos and bios plus the WebEx links needed to participate in each session.  Attendees were able to review the schedule and select which session they wanted to join.  Participants were able to earn up to 11.25 PDUs during the two-days of the live symposium sessions.

“The ability to look at the agenda and have the option to hop from virtual room to virtual room was like intellectual shopping for your brain!” said Symone Mercado, Strategic Planning Project Manager from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “Not only was each session insightful and clearly delivered (can I just say logistics were on point!), it was so much fun to have the freedom to really explore Project Management at my own pace. Overall, I was very impressed and would eagerly attend another session!”

Session speaker Sandra Menzies (top right), presented “Imrov to Improve.”  The screen shot above shows Sandra and  her demonstration team as they exposed symposium participants to Improv games to help them get out of their comfort zone and out of their heads to be in the moment in a safe and supportive manner.

Besides being able to attend the live sessions on May 7th and 8th, UMD recorded the speaker presentations and links to the recordings were posted on the password-protected online schedule.  This offered participants the opportunity to view any of the sessions they missed during the live event at their leisure later and the ability to earn an additional 33 PDUs. Cindy Miller, a teacher from Fairfax County Public Schools, said, “I Love the fact that I can ‘attend’ all sessions through recordings.  Generally, I would have to choose one session out of five for each track, but now I can benefit from all of them!” Lorelei Pate from the Baltimore Chapter of Women in Cable Telecommunications stated, “Wonderful event which worked perfectly online! This allowed for multiple PDU’s & learning to be gained not only in a deep dive during the 2 day live event but throughout the year at attendees own pace. Fantastic value!”

The change to a VIRTUAL environment also provided the opportunity for participants from outside of the DC Metropolitan area to easily attend.  Project Management Professionals from 28 states and 11 countries were able to participate with no risk of COVID exposure or any travel costs.  “It’s the best project management symposium that I never attended” said Shane Perkins, Director of Investment Realization at Aurelius Group in Sydney, Australia. “Going virtual meant that I could sit half-way around the world in my pajamas, and still participate and hear the latest ideas.” Roy Lafferty from the US Department of Agriculture indicated that “many of my USDA co-workers, along with myself, could not have attended if the event had been in-person.”

Despite the last minute change to an online event, the evidence is clear that UMD’s first VIRTUAL symposium was a success! Camille Hordatt, IT Project Manager at the Library of Congress, provided an excellent summary of comments received, “You delivered!  Truly awesome experience, obtained from my home in the year of COVID-19. A well planned and organized event and a great source of innovative and new information.”

It has already been decided that the 2021 Project Management Symposium will also be delivered virtually.  Mark your calendar for Thursday, April 22 and Friday, April 23, 2021.  Don’t miss UMD’s second VIRTUAL symposium and spread the word to your colleagues.  Location, travel and virus exposure are no excuses for not attending! Registration will open in September 2020. More information will be coming soon!