Nov 18, 2015

"An Amazing Place to Work" - Interview with Navy Federal Credit Union's Kristin Earley

Posted by Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin | 0 Comments

From managing to leadership: "It's a natural progression."

A week ago today, our CEO Kent Crawford joined PMI in congratulating the 2015 PMO of the Year Award winner, Navy Federal Credit Union, at the PMO Symposium in Phoenix. The finalists, Symcor and Ticketmaster, were also honored at the event. An in-depth description of the winner and finalists’ applications is available in ebook form on our PMO of the Year Hall of Fame page.

The PMI Awards program has already shared a brief discussion of some of these organizations’ practices, but as sponsor of the Award since 2006, we wanted to delve a little deeper. While the award is not a personal award, but an organizational one (and all three directors were quick to stress the role of teamwork and executive support in their success), it’s also true that leadership makes a difference! So  I reached out to the PMO directors by phone to find out firsthand just what it takes to make it into the finalist pool. In alphabetical order, today through Friday, I’ll be sharing some highlights from each PMO leader’s interview.

Navy Federal Credit Union’s Kristin Earley, pictured at right, discussed the important shift that the PMO is making from a rules-and-process-focused IT shop to a PMO that encourages leadership and judgement: “One best practice that has emerged is to ensure that our PM’s balance process with leadership.  Our PM’s use their best judgment to determine how to tailor processes and minimize unnecessary work to meet each project’s needs.  This lets them focus on project leadership, not just project management, and that’s exactly where we want our team to be.

“It’s a natural progression. When you start to design new processes, you need everyone to adhere to them initially. But as the processes mature, and people gain expertise, we found we had to push for a balance between adhering to process and accessing talents and leadership. So now we really promote empowerment of PMs to shift from manager to leader. Some things are mandatory for every project but mostly they are empowered to make decisions regarding their projects.”

This kind of flexibility and recognition is doubtless one reason why, for five out of the last eight years, NFCU has made Fortune magazine’s list of “100 Best Companies to Work For®,” along with receiving other workplace honors in 2015:

Culture, too, plays a big role in NFCU’s ability to embrace organizational changes and pull off time-sensitive major projects like the Instant Card Issuance initiative described in their winning PMO of the Year application.  Says Earley, “We have a great mission: ‘serving the military and their families” and it really fosters a culture of member service. It’s great to see that culture develop and grow within our PMO staff; it’s rewarding to deliver new products and services to our members through IT projects. The credit union culture is all about service, all about our members. The focus at the end of the day is a passion to serve our members, and that’s energizing and exciting for everyone here. You don’t often find a place as amazing as this to work.”

Tomorrow: Symcor's Haresh Desai

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