Fiat Veritas roughly means “Let there be truth”. I chose that name for my project management consulting firm because project managers are responsible for telling the unpleasant truths: that an assumption was incorrect, the project is late or over budget, that a risk has graduated to an issue, …
I’m experienced in both waterfall and agile project management, but my preferred style is something I call adaptive project management, which is better suited to projects with complexity (which agile manages poorly) and uncertainty (which waterfall manages poorly). I’ve used this process in developing innovative hardware products, where at launch we don’t even know if the product is possible, much less what the Work Breakdown Structure is. I’ve written the book, “Adaptive Project Management: Leading Complex and Uncertain Project” to intoduce people to this approach.
Physics as the perfect education for a technical project manager
When people hear I have a PhD in astrophysics from MIT, but now I’m a “lowly” project manager, I often get questions like
- “Do you use what you learned in school?”
- “Do you regret spending all of that time in school?”
- “Do you miss astronomy?”
- “Can you do my star chart?”
The answers are “more than you would think”, “no”, “a bit, but I don’t regret moving on”, and “not astrology, astronomy”.
I’ve found that physics is the perfect background for project management of hardware products. I know enough of all of the disciplines to see gaps and recognize risks, but not so much that I’m tempted to actually do the work.
But the journey from physics to project management is rare, so I thought it would be worth telling the tale of how I got here. In 1993 I moved to Seattle for a research fellowship at the University of Washington’s astronomy department. During this time I realized that the academic world didn’t suit me as much as I had thought it would, that tenure track jobs were harder to find than dark matter particles, and I really loved Seattle. So in 1996 I decided to try to be a successful “engineer without an adjective” (i.e. not an electrical, mechanical or software engineer), rather than a struggling astronomer.
My first job was at Neopath where I worked on improving an automated microscope that scanned Pap smear slides for the diagnosis of cervical cancer. From there I went on to develop industrial equipment, medical devices, and consumer electronics. When I was at Calypso Medical I started out as an individual contributor with ownership of a critical module of a device that improved radiation therapy. When I delivered my prototype and showed my preferred solution would meet our requirements, I was tasked with finding and managing an outsider company to implementing my concept, beginning my transition to project management. Since then my career has focused on project management and team leadership for product development.
Fiat Veritas offers project management and product development consulting. Services include:
- Leading technical and non-technical teams for product development
- Project management mentoring
- Introducing, refreshing, or repairing project management and product development process
- Technology assesment
- Strategic Analysis
- Developing actionable metrics and reports
- LiquidPlanner on-boarding
- Brainstorming sessions
- Root-cause and risk analysis
If you’re interested in learning more about how Fiat Veritas can help your project, drop me a line.