Putting Agile to Work

“If you have the skills of project management, there are more opportunities for finding jobs.”

Neville Mistry, a project management consultant at Kairos Power, juggled multi-million-dollar project management responsibilities for several years before returning to school to boost his career.

“I was doing a hybrid of traditional project management and Agile for a while, but I hadn’t ever formally studied the concepts,” he says. “In my opinion, very few people really understand what Agile is and how it allows us to make changes as required and quickly learn from what you do. You have to have a broad understanding of the project and what people can deliver.”

Mistry, a chemical engineer by training with a background in designing and setting up manufacturing facilities, immigrated to the U.S. about five years ago to be near family. He worked for a few U.S. companies but found it hard to find the right position. A career counselor at NOVA Workforce Board introduced him to the UCSC Silicon Valley Extension Project and Program certificate program as a way to formalize what he already knew, familiarize him with Silicon Valley best practices, and serve as a bridge to a better job. It was there he got to learn from some of the best instructors in the industry, Mistry says.

“They not only provided us a very detailed understanding of the concepts, but they mentored, guided, helped, and supported us,” he says. “They made the course study easy for us to understand and apply the knowledge gained in our day-to-day activities.”

Eventually the most challenging part of the course was to balance classwork and his job. His last course was Extreme-Agile Project Management, a new, two-day workshop with Gail Ferreira, Ph.D.

Extreme Project Management (EPM) uses an agile development model to address projects with short increment delivery schedules, high uncertainty, rapidly changing requirements, and high visibility. It’s a study of both the methodology (Flexible Project Model, Adaptive Project Framework, and Scrum) and interpersonal skills needed for effective management under extreme conditions.

“From assignments, class exercises, and group discussions to the project work and quizzes—it all challenged me,” says Mistry, who completed the certificate program with an overall GPA of 3.8. “It helped me build strong foundations and solidify concepts.”

“One should have some basic technical understanding, but project management is more about the overall understanding of scope, time, cost, and quality,” Mistry says. “It’s about ensuring you are able to achieve the goal of the project.” It’s a skill that can be applied to all industries. “And, if you have project management skills, you have more opportunities to find jobs.”

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