Speaker Abstracts and Bios


OPENING KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY MELANIE SPRING

Presentation: ROCK YOUR PITCH: Storytelling with Numbers

You have to pitch for money for your business or project.
You have to tell your boss you deserve a raise.
You have to explain why your project is going to be successful.

You have numbers to support your reasons for getting what you want, and you understand that numbers matter. But it's up to you to convince them - using data AND story - that you truly deserve this thing you want. In order to get to X (numbers), you've got to explain Y (why).

This talk speaks to the humans who believe numbers tell the story AND to the humans who believe stories tell the numbers. Looking at both sides to ensure everyone gets the information they need, you'll be able to craft a presentation from the story the numbers tell in a succinct, simple, and manageable way. You'll walk away with things you can change immediately in your current presentation or just what you needed to create the one that's in your head. You've got to make your pitch by making an impact.

In this  keynote  you'll start:
Finding out how the numbers can tell a story
Getting tips on how to tell the story without boring people
Seeing why it matters that you make your audience feel something
Seeing how the story AND the numbers make the impact

It's up to YOU to rock your pitch!

I’m Melanie Spring and my personal brand is Approachable Badass. The girl who became your best friend within the first 5 minutes of meeting you.  The smile you responded to with your own inner glow. The badass who tipped you off the edge of the cliff you were scared of jumping off. The big personality who entered a room in a big way while making sure you’re comfortable. The tough chick who cares more about how you show up than you do. The adventurer who does epic shit on the regular. The brand strategist who boldly pushes past your boundaries. The facilitator who pulls out her inner 2nd grade teacher if things get off track. The get-shit-done warrior who makes sure you walk away with what you need. The woman who knows her superpowers and uses them for good.


MORNING SESSION 

Presentation: Unleash Your Project Meeting Potential: How to Maximize Collaboration, Outcomes, and Value 

by Natalie Berkiw 

High-functioning meetings are a powerful enabler for project managers to build collaborative
partnerships, and to drive successful projects results. Participants of this session will explore
their untapped potential that could be accessed through thoughtful meeting planning and execution. As project managers, we easily spend at least half of our time in meetings, or planning for the next one. But not every meeting produces great results. However, as project leads, we need to take accountability for leading effective meetings, and appreciate the value that meetings can play in reaching our project goals and achieving success in our careers. By exploring The 3 Step Meeting Framework™, the group will delve into several considerations for before, during and after each meeting. Participants of this session will leave with in-depth knowledge and practical strategies to plan, lead and follow up appropriately. Just like project management, meeting management has a methodology and best practices. Learn how to maximize your meetings to achieve the project outcomes you want, and to drive value for all your key stakeholders.

Natalie Berkiw has been successfully leading strategic projects as a seasoned, senior project management consultant, for the past 17 years. She holds a Project Management Professional (PMP) designation, and certification in Lean from the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering. Natalie has international project management experience in both the United States and Canada. She has worked primarily in the health care and non-profit sectors, and has extensive experience in team and meeting facilitation, strategic planning, project management and process improvement. She blends this with her past experience as an education specialist to develop educational content and materials to now support and mentor other seasoned and new project managers. Natalie currently provides project management and process improvement expertise to Beaumont Health as a senior consultant in their Value Acceleration Office. Previously, she led multi-organizational, strategic projects in health care in London, Ontario, Canada, and was the cofounder of the Community of Practice for Project Management (COPPM) for the London hospital systems. She served in the President and several Vice President roles where she was responsible for developing project management curriculum and delivering regular educational presentations to the 800+ membership. She recently authored the book Unleash Your Meeting Potential™: A Comprehensive Guide to Leading Effective Meetings, and regularly blogs at EffectiveMeetings101.com. She has taken her years of experience sitting in meetings with executives to the front-line staff, observations, and stories shared by others, and used this learning to develop The 3 Step Meeting Framework™. This outlines best practices and a straight-forward methodology around leading effective meetings. 

Presentation: Leveraging Project Cost Estimation Models to Drive Continuous Improvement in Product Development 
by Rick Crayne 

Most companies are poor at estimating the cost of product development projects. Under and over estimating is considered normal, but both cause waste. Development work is treated as something that cannot be measured, but there are innovative ways to develop and validate Equivalent Work Units (EQUs) for all kinds of products. EQUs can be creatively used to estimate costs of future projects. Hours per EQU and Cost per EQU allow leadership to establish baselines, benchmarks, and gaps in performance as well as future targets for closing gaps. Best practices from benchmark performers can be leveraged across leaders and teams. Roadmaps are developed by leaders with actions to close gaps. EQU-based estimates build reliable resource management plans across portfolios and drive leaders to improve resource utilization across groups. EQU-based processes must be continuously refined and adapted for a changing world with global projects, low-cost country resources, build-to-print requirements, and more. 

Rick Crayne owns Crayne Consulting, LLC. His mission is to measure and achieve benchmark performance in product development. He has developed and implemented successful Continuous Improvement programs in many product lines around the world. Rick was recently Corporate Engineering Director of Process Excellence at Johnson Controls, a global $40 billion technology and multi-industrial leader. Rick was the Global Director of Continuous Improvement for Engineering and Program Management for 10 years at Adient, a $20 billion global sales leader in the automotive seating market. He believes that “True” Key Performance Indicators are critical foundation to long-term continuous improvement efforts. Rick’s secret sauce is measuring engineering productivity with accuracy and objectivity. Rick led global teams that applied this to automotive seating, interiors, fabrics, electronics, batteries, HVAC controllers and fire-suppression devices. His methods set budgets for more than 2,000 projects and $4 billion in engineering spend with 87%+ accuracy. Rick led a group of 15 Six Sigma Black Belts and a Master Black Belt focused on improving the engineering function for 2 large technical centers which are now part of Adient and YFAI. Rick is all about processes. He led a global team from 3 companies to combine best practices into a new Product Launch System (PLUS) and formed supporting PMOs. 17 years later, this process is still used in Johnson Controls, Adient, YFAI, and others. Rick is the author of an article series about continuously improving product development. Rick holds an MBA from the University of Phoenix and a BS in Manufacturing Engineering from EasternMichiganUniversity. He is amember and past speaker at PMIGLC and HVC. He holds a US Patent. He has visited 18 countries and travelled around the world 12 times and can say Hello, Thank You and order a beer in 15 languages. 

Presentation: The Real Story: What's Behind Our Highlight Reels
by Jess Ekstrom  

When Jess first started her company, Headbands of Hope, as a college student, she had a rough start. She wired $10k of all the money she had, plus a loan from her dad, to a manufacturer to start her first round of production. After she wired the money, she never heard from them again and the money was gone. She thought about giving up, but realized she believed in the business too much to let it go before it began. She brushed herself off, got a $300 grant from her university and created a million dollar company that impact hundreds of thousands of kids with cancer. For a while, she thought all of these hurdles were only happening to her (because no one else was talking about them). We live in a world of social media highlight reels, which paints a false picture for what life should be. When people are honest and disclose the real story in between their start to their success, it humanizes the hustle. You can make mistakes (big ones, too) and still make it. But when we pretend it’s smooth sailing or blame our success to luck or being in the right place at the right time, it paints a false picture that can make people turn around at the first sign of This keynote will tell an honest, humorous and inspiring tales of Jess and other people who went for it. The audience will not only be entertained, but will also feel permission to be creative, intentional, and relentless towards their goals. 

Jess Ekstrom is the founder and CEO of Headbands of Hope, a company she started as a junior in college in 2012. For every headband sold, a headband is given to a child with cancer. The company has been featured on the TODAY Show, Vanity Fair, Seventeen, Good Morning America and more. But more importantly, they've donated over 200,000 headbands to every children's hospital in the United States and 15 countries. Jess is also a professional speaker, author, and writer for Entrepreneur and The Huffington Post. 

Presentation: Agile for IT Infrastructure Innovation: Making the Square Peg fit the Round Hole 
by Raj Kattil

Agile is being sold as ‘Snake Oil’ these days, as a ‘cure all’ for all kinds of projects. Unfortunately, the sequential nature of IT Infrastructure projects presents some challenges in adopting Agile methods en-masse from the Software Development projects, for which these methods were originally developed. The author is a Certified Scrum Master, and has been using Agile methods for IT Infrastructure Innovation projects for the last three years. In this presentation the author will describe two case studies (two projects) from his experience, how Agile was used/abused/adapted, what challenges were encountered and what Lessons were learned. The author will also solicit audience participation and comments, particularly the experience of audience members who have used Agile for similar projects. The presentation will conclude with some pragmatic recommendations of how to adapt Agile, and even commit ‘Agile heresy’ by combining methodologies! 

Raj Kattil (PMP) is a seasoned IT Delivery Manager with over 25+ years of experience and is currently a Program Manager at T-Systems North America. Raj has been managing Global Teams to deliver projects and programs since 2010. Currently, he manages New Engineering initiatives for a large Global client (Top-3 Oil Company), choreographing the transition from Idea to Implemented Service using Global Delivery teams. Raj holds a B.S. degree in Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, India, and an M.B.A. from Carlson School of Business, University of Minnesota. He has also completed the coursework for M.S. in Computer Science from University of Minnesota, and has been a P.M.P. since 2002, and is also a Certified Scrum Master. 


MORNING SESSION #2

Presentation: Laws of Physics in the World of Change
by Minimol Mathew 

The presentation will be focused on how the basic laws in physics covered in high school
science classes can relate to your professional life. Science teaches methods of enquiry
and investigation to stimulate creative thoughts. The presentation covers how Newton's
and Ohm's laws and the laws of thermodynamics can be interpreted in simple terms to relate
with business world. These basic principles will provide tools and techniques to cultivate
innovation and creativity as well as leadership and influential skills among business professionals. 

Mini Mathew is a strategic thinker and a project scientist who mastered the art and science of project management through a convex lens. Mini holds Masters in Physics from CUSAT, Kerala, India and later moved her career into IT. She is currently working as a Manager for the EPMO Office at Little Caesars Enterprises/Ilitch Holdings. Prior to this role she established a PMO office and served as an IT Director for more than 10+ years.

 


Presentation: Scheduling by Risk, a Practical How-To Guide 
by Matt Pallaver and Nick Beneker

In developing project schedules, typically there is a corporate milestone process that identifies the key project delivery points. For example, design reviews, documentation release, and prototype release might be common. Yet the underlying work required to deliver on the identified milestones is typically not scheduled. This presentation provides a methodology to identify and schedule key intermediate lower level technical work, systematically assess risk, and then sequence tasks by risk to reduce exposure to project delays.

Matt Pallaver is a principal at Functional Specs Inc. a product development consulting firm focusing on design processes to improve on-time, on-budget and on-specification project performance. For the last 6 years he has been supporting global product development teams at Schlumberger, a Fortune 500 energy firm. He focuses on requirements analysis, functional requirements decomposition, solution synthesis, risk assessment and engineering development
and test task planning. 

Nick Beneker is a Project Management leader with experience in both client application support and Unisys internal applications.  At Unisys Federal Systems, Nick led the Process Engineering Team, wrote proposals for US Government contracts, and supported several civilian agencies as a Program Manager, Project Manager, Quality Manager, and Earned Value Management Specialist. Nick has an MBA from the University of Michigan and bachelor’s degrees in Computer Science and Biology from Oakland University.  He is certified by the Project Management Institute as a Project Management Professional and as a Risk Management Professional and holds 3 intermediate level ITILv3 certifications.

Presentation: The Remote Employee – How to Manage Projects From a Virtual Office 
by Christine Panaretos 

In today’s Global world, many companies are saving money and hiring “virtual” employees, based on their experience, not location. I’d like to present my experiences of working virtually and help others who are thinking about it or experiencing it themselves.

Christine Panaretos has been a Senior Project Manager with the Ricoh Project Management Office, since July 2010, specializing in Professional Services software, Document Management and IT deployment projects with multiple complexities, working with vendors and customers in the Education, Health Care, and Energy industries, to name a few. She is responsible for projects from initiation to project closure, following the RicohMethodology Framework. She joined Ricoh in December, 2008 as a Manager of Implementation for Professional Service projects. Here, she managed a team of Solutions Integrators who performed system implementation upgrades and complex hardware and software installations. During this time she also carried out Project Manager activities for the Michigan area, working closely with senior management, customers, consultants, vendors and sales teams to secure and complete Professional Service contracted goods and services. 

Presentation: You Did What In My Shoes? 
by Neal Rowland 

Are you making what you want or want the end user really wants? The use of immersive empathy and developing stories around their needs - not yours – gives a deeper understanding and appreciation of what is needed. See how stories have been used in projects to adapt to user needs and expectations. 

Neal Rowland is the lead crowd surfer for The Crowd Training. He is certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP) and to the Expert level of ITIL. He was also one of the first in the world to be PMI-ACP certified. As the Lead Crowd Surfer, Neal develops and constructs learning content and resources for a variety of topics, industries, and modalities. Incorporating design thinking he merges pedalogical best practices with graphic design, multimedia, and technology. His experienceincludes projects for Microsoft, Plex Manufacturing Cloud, Amazon, PM City, and Sound Transit. Neal currently lives in the Detroit area with his wife and 5 young kids. 


AFTERNOON SESSION 

Presentation: Schedule Crashing Techniques for Recovery
by Gerardo Abad 

In so many high cost complex projects with extreme impact to the organization, certain leadership decisions that were made at the start may lead to project recovery initiatives to meet required milestone implementation date(s). This presentation session provides mechanical techniques to crash the schedule, however, insightful approaches to inspire creativity among SMEs is the focus to achieve success.  

Gerry Abad is the owner of the Velo Consulting Group, LLC which is incorporated in the state of Texas. He possesses a BS in Applied Economics and an MS in Electronic Commerce. Gerry achieved certifications as a Project Management Professional (PMP) and Program Management Professional (PgMP) with the internationally acclaimed Project Management Institute (PMI). Mr. Abad has been involved in energy restructuring in the US since 1987 during the restructuring of the Gas Industry then the electricity markets since 1997. He has led successful high cost technology programs in the bulk power market at two Independent System Operator (ISO) organizations in California and Texas. He has also led highly successful technology programs and projects for market participant systems in four ISO control regions in the US. 

Presentation: The Real Story: What's Behind Our Highlight Reels (repeat presentation)
by Jess Ekstrom 

When Jess first started her company, Headbands of Hope, as a college student, she had a rough start. She wired $10k of all the money she had, plus a loan from her dad, to a manufacturer to start her first round of production. After she wired the money, she never heard from them again and the money was gone. She thought about giving up, but realized she believed in the business too much to let it go before it began. She brushed herself off, got a $300 grant from her university and created a million dollar company that impact hundreds of thousands of kids with cancer. For a while, she thought all of these hurdles were only happening to her (because no one else was talking about them). We live in a world of social media highlight reels, which paints a false picture for what life should be. When people are honest and disclose the real story in between their start to their success, it humanizes the hustle. You can make mistakes (big ones, too) and still make it. But when we pretend it’s smooth sailing or blame our success to luck or being in the right place at the right time, it paints a false picture that can make people turn around at the first sign of This keynote will tell an honest, humorous and inspiring tales of Jess and other people who went for it. The audience will not only be entertained, but will also feel permission to be creative, intentional, and relentless towards their goals. 

Jess Ekstrom is the founder and CEO of Headbands of Hope, a company she started as a junior in college in 2012. For every headband sold, a headband is given to a child with cancer. The company has been featured on the TODAY Show, Vanity Fair, Seventeen, Good Morning America and more. But more importantly, they've donated over 200,000 headbands to every children's hospital in the United States and 15 countries. Jess is also a professional speaker, author, and writer for Entrepreneur and The Huffington Post. 

Presentation: Project Coaching: A New Perspective On Project Leadership
by Matthew McCarty 

More and more organizations are realizing the benefits of coaching on individual and team
performance. In addition to hiring professional coaches, organizations are expecting their leaders and managers to develop and utilize coaching skills in their day to day practice. This includes project managers! As project management evolves toward the second quarter of the 21st Century, leadership skills that were once considered esoteric have become indispensable. In this presentation audience members will pick up the coaching tools and skills that are most helpful to project managers. 

Matt McCarty (PMP) has over 30 years of experience in technology leadership, project management and customer service. Matt served as technology and project leader for companies such as Dana Corporation, Comerica Bank and Kelly Services, Inc.  Matt also served 15 years as Executive Director of Technology and Information Services for the Clarkston Community School District and led the district through two major technology initiatives and several construction projects. Matt is currently at Kelly Services, Inc. where he serves as a Senior Business Process Consultant. Matt also serves as an executive coach and public speaking coach through his company, MD McCarty & Associates. Matt is very active in Toastmasters International and has served as president of Kelly Toastmasters at Kelly Services, Inc. He is also a Certified World Class Speaking Coach and coaches entrepreneurs, project managers, educators and non-profit administrators in public speaking, presentation and leadership skills. 

Presentation: When the Organization Thinks They’re Running Too Fast to Use Project Management 
by Jen Pfaff 

What should an experienced PM do when their company doesn’t have a PMO or when an organization think Project Management is too time consuming? This scenario presents a lot more opportunities than you might think.  

Jen Pfaff is the Director IS Payment Strategy & Global Support for Domino’s Pizza in Ann Arbor, MI. She is a Senior leader with expertise managing global teams acquired over twenty-four years working with some of the world’s largest corporations. Specialties: Project Management Office implementation, portfolio management, methodology development and deployment, delivery team and vendor management. Jen is married and has two teenage sons and two dogs. She is also an avid runner. 


CLOSING KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY CYNTHIA D'AMOUR

Presentation: Leading Successfully in a Constantly Changing World

Innovation, creativity and change can strike fear and paralysis in the hearts of your typical team members. We are wired as humans to resist change. To succeed as a leader in world changing in rates that feel faster than light, new skills are needed.

Join Leadership Strategist, Cynthia D’Amour, MBA, author of The Lazy Leader’s Guide to Outrageous Results to explore how to achieve your outcomes with more ease by helping your team members feel more confident in a constantly shifting world.

Cynthia D'Amour, MBA has spent more than 20 years helping thousands of leaders get more members involved in associations. She's the author of seven books including The Lazy Leader's Guide to Outrageous Results. Now Cynthia is helping associations do Future Bending Adventures to be ready for what's coming. She's balancing the future by teaching leaders how to use joy as a shortcut for success.