Upping the Ante
Project Manager-Turned-Author Increases his Support of PMIEF’s Vital Global Education
Project management is “a science” that can transform lives on a global scale, says John Briesemeister, MBA, PMP, a power plant steam turbine systems specialist with GN Power Dinginin Ltd. Co. Now managing a major multiyear project in the Philippines, John continues to expand his support of the PMI Educational Foundation (PMIEF), not only through his conviction of words and spirit, but via monthly donations and membership in the Leadership Society.
“PMIEF is on the right road, moving education into the classroom,” says John, “and teaching students the rudiments of basic program management knowledge early in life.” Regarding the basic skills of project management as life skills, John fervently believes PMIEF is “vital” to delivering exactly the education that results in self-reliance and community empowerment for people in all corners of the world.
“Consider, for example, the number of students who go to college and get in way over their heads in student debt,” he says. “If we can intervene and teach young people to manage college education like a project and to understand the basic principles of project budgeting, we can help a lot of students reduce their levels of debt and stress.”
John’s own educational journey began on a Minnesota farm in the 1960s. At the age of 9, he was determined to become a doctor and devoured medical textbooks in between chores mandated by his father, a career military man. But at the age of 17, John followed in his father’s footsteps, joined the U.S. Navy, and served in Vietnam. When he returned home, he began decades of education that did not include medical school but did include a myriad of over-lapping disciplines. “While in the Navy, I determined that in every decade of my life, I would do something—training-wise—with a new advanced degree,” he says of his ambitions.
John has since made an impact on the world—living and working in 15 countries as a construction project manager—and has become such an expert in project management that he has written a book about it. His 265-page Managing Complex Construction Projects: A Systems Approach was published this year by CRC Press and is included in its Best Practices and Advances in Program Management series.
John credits the literary achievement, in part, to PMIEF. “PMIEF personally impacted me in a very positive way by presenting me with the 2016 Donald S. Barrie Award for a paper I wrote on ‘Managing Construction Projects,’” he explains. The honor, along with a “challenge” from college professor Ginger Levin, who suggested he translate his practical approaches to construction project management into a book, propelled him to do precisely that.
Looking to the future, John intends to increase his involvement, as time permits, with the various programs PMIEF manages in elementary schools. “I believe that joining the Leadership Society will assist me in supporting PMIEF's efforts in schools. I already know that PMIEF is making a positive difference in so many lives at a much earlier stage; this is exciting to me.”
John hopes the money he contributes to PMIEF will help to keep educational efforts going strong and going far. “I have seen a global hunger among the young people of this planet for what PMIEF provides in the United States. I want to transfer more of my knowledge to a new generation, just as PMIEF is doing now. Giving through a monthly plan makes it easier to give important financial support for such efforts. My personal vision is one in which PMIEF’s program is extended on a global scale, bringing younger citizens the tools to improve not only their lives, but also the world around them.”
He knows it won’t happen overnight, but with help from other project managers and contributors like himself, John believes it will happen. He offers a favorite saying to illustrate an intended chipping away of barriers toward a steady forward progress: “In South Africa, they say: ‘How do you eat an elephant? You eat it one piece at a time.’”