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Designer and Innovation Consultant Amy Guterman Leads Project Management Workshop for MSLCE Students


By Nick Roman
MSLCE students arrive at Northwestern with substantial professional experience, which typically includes project management. In reflecting on experiences in the field, MSLCE students discovered that while end results of their projects were positive, the process leading up to them proved to be more difficult. 

To breakdown project management, MSLCE students recently attended a workshop with Innovation Consultant Amy Guterman, a designer and illustrator who guided the cohort through the fundamentals of project management, the various tasks involved, and the best practices for completing those tasks. Throughout the day, Guterman referenced several creative industries, allowing students to apply takeaways in their respective fields.

Guterman framed the workshop through reflection of past projects. Students were challenged to evaluate what worked, what did not, challenges they faced, and what they would do differently in projects. To help organize these questions, Guterman presented a visual graphic of a triangle with “project management” in the middle, with scoping projects, coordinating teams, and managing sponsors at the three points.

Most creative professionals understand that time is money, thus making scoping projects an essential part of project management.  Guterman assigned cases to student groups in their respective creative sectors (theatre, film, advertising, visual art), and had students establish objectives, deliverables, and activities into their hypothetical cases.  Components were organized into a visual chart to directly observe the progress of a project.

Work in teams is standard in today’s creative industries. Guterman helped students evaluate strengths in teams though identifying action oriented individuals, those with strong people skills, and those who work best in completing cerebral-oriented tasks.  Guterman provided students with tools for alignment to maintain a productive work ethic amongst teams.

All projects have sponsors, whether it be a colleague from an external company or a supervisor. A key takeaway of the workshop’s sponsor management section was that project managers need to carefully navigate sponsorship as much as they need to work for a sponsor’s benefit. To illustrate this, Guterman developed four areas in which to observe: engagement, experience, work style, and decision. Students evaluated different sponsors based on these areas through a role-playing exercise, relatable to workplace environments.

Guterman’s workshop provided clear and organized steps to further develop students’ skills in project management.  Key reflection points included sequencing projects that ensures task completion in a timely manner, monitoring progress, and alignment in teams. The workshop’s content in conjunction with its application to professional sectors equipped MSLCE students for the workplace beyond Northwestern.