Donor Spotlight: Gerardo Blitzer, PMP

 

12 March 2019

Published inPM Philanthropist

Gerardo Blitzer headshot

Gerardo Blitzer, PMP, shares his experience as a liaison.

When Gerardo Blitzer, PMP, contacted the PMI Buenos Aires, Argentina Chapter via email late one night in 2008, he was simply trying to find out the name of the PMI Educational Foundation liaison. He wanted to get involved in sharing his project management expertise and thought the liaison could help him do that. He never expected the reply he got.

“I got a response from the president of the chapter early the next morning before I went to work,” he says with a chuckle. “It said, ‘YOU. You are the liaison.’” The chapter had never had a liaison, but wanted one. And Gerardo’s letter of interest seemed to qualify him for the job. He could have run away from the implied responsibility, but he embraced the opportunity instead.

Ever since, Gerardo has welcomed continuing opportunities to support PMIEF, one of which is his consistent donorship which began with annual gifts and has now expanded to monthly donations. “I donate for two reasons,” he explains. “First, I think that the work being done by PMIEF is really great and I understand the necessity of having funds available for it to continue. And second, I can’t expect others to donate if I do not donate myself. I want to be an example to other people and encourage them to support PMIEF, too.”

Before taking on the job of liaison, Gerardo, then a project manager with Hewlett Packard, and his wife had been trying to give back to the community by assisting Fundación Cruzada Patagónica in working with rural people in the western region of Patagonia, near the Andes. “The people who live in the mountains tend cattle, but they cannot read or write,” he details. “When I started working with the foundation, they thought that doing project management meant one thing: having a Gantt chart. I was able to help them see that there is much more to project management than that chart.” Fundación Cruzada Patagónica has since founded two secondary schools that are technically oriented so that graduates can effectively handle cattle, build field fences, and hoe rows for planting. 

Once he undertook the liaison role in which he served for three years (and later joined the board of the local chapter), Gerardo presented numerous workshops to youths and nonprofit groups with the overarching goal of “creating awareness that there is another way of doing things, and handling projects,” he says. “I remember delivering a workshop for young students and asking them how they handled risks in a project. They said, ‘When a problem appears then we figure out what to do.’” At the end of the workshop, they understood that the key to a successful project is complete planning, including planning for risks. 

“Especially in today’s world, young people expect immediate results and instant gratification; they tend to skip the planning phase,” notes Gerardo. “I usually tell them in Spanish—though it sounds much better in English—‘If you fail to plan, you should plan to fail.’ It is not a one-time message; we must follow up and be persistent on the message, mentor on projects, stay connected.”

While in the role of liaison, Gerardo contacted Habitat for Humanity, which has been active in Argentina for 16 years. He learned that the nonprofit organization already had a project manager on staff and had started using project management skills to bolster their home-building projects. “In Argentina, nonprofits need to become more professional. Because Habitat incorporated project management concepts several years ago, I can see very tangible results,” he comments. “There is order and planning in everything. Everyone is on the same page all the time, and knows what to expect.” Gerardo was so impressed that, in time, he left Hewlett Packard to become development manager for Habitat for Humanity. “I love the organization; I am honored to be on staff,” he says. “Now, from inside the organization, I am sharing my experience and knowledge and building the relationship between the local PMI chapter and Habitat. I now have a much better understanding of the importance of incorporating project management concepts into the everyday work of nonprofits.”

Gerardo continues his association with PMIEF as a Community Engagement Committee volunteer and an ardent donor. Asked if he has hopes that his generous gifts be directed to any particular project, he stops to consider the question and then answers, “No. I just hope my money will help to support the whole sustainability of the entire PMI Educational Foundation. Without donations, the foundation would cease to exist. I know my gift is a very small piece of it; it must be a global effort, and we all must do our part.”

The father of a son, 12, and a daughter, 10, Gerardo adds, “Project management is a life skill that applies to absolutely everything. I would stress to fellow project managers to keep in mind the importance of changing lives among the world’s youth through education. If that is something you want to do, this is one of the best ways to do it.”

 
 

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