Sep 3, 2014
Ian Wong receives his award from Sue Taylor, Regional Director, BC/Yukon CDA.
Vancouver, BC - A recent graduate of Langara College’s Project Management Certificate Program, Ian Wong, has been honoured as the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) 2014 Volunteer of the Year for BC/Yukon Region. The CDA leads the fight against diabetes, helping those affected to live healthy lives, preventing the onset and consequences of diabetes, and working to find a cure. Their work is assisted by many dedicated community volunteers.
Volunteering their skills and time to charitable projects gives project-management graduates a chance to show professional responsibility and leadership, and to grow their portfolio of successful projects for their résumés. Jill Wurflinger, National Director of Volunteer Engagement, describes Ian as a “knowledge philanthropist,” who provided the “overall leadership for the deliverables for the spring webinar series, creating and implementing a communications plan, a task checklist and risk register. He worked very closely with the Senior Manager, Programs and Partnerships, at many points truly leading the project and all communications with both staff and volunteers.”
With a B.A. Economics and B.B.A. Accounting, Ian chose project management at Langara for his post-degree studies because it complemented his personality, background, and abilities. Ian saw himself as a “strong generalist with more breadth than average” but he also realized that he might not have enough specialization in any particular department to “truly stand out.” Langara’s Advanced Project Management Certificate was recommended to Ian by a friend, and after doing some research he found that it had a solid educational reputation, was comparatively affordable, and fostered an understanding of project management software and concepts.
Like many project management students, Ian was looking to find new opportunities and build his confidence through achievement. His instructor, Rob Clark, who has been teaching project management at Langara since 2002, brought in a representative to speak to Ian’s class from PM-Volunteers (pm-volunteers.org), an organization that connects qualified volunteer project managers with the project needs of local charitable and not-for-profit organizations. Project managers can contribute expertise and assistance as volunteers to projects in IT, construction, human resources, communications, marketing, event planning and other areas.
Ian highly recommends that other students who are getting started in the field donate their PM skills because working with non-profits opens up great opportunities to network and learn. “Many non-profits that seek out project managers are receptive to feedback and suggestions so they also represent opportunities to apply what you have learnt. There will always be a gap between theory and application no matter how good an academic program is. Keep learning and have an open mind as to sources of learning,” said Wong.
Ian’s award recognizes his service as a volunteer Project Manager for the CDA’s spring-summer webinar series, a pilot initiative that delivers free, live interactive sessions and webinars to support Canadians living with type one or type two diabetes. Webinar participants can view informational presentations on diabetes management and care online, ask questions, connect and share with others. Selected recorded sessions are available on the CDA website (diabetes.ca) on topics such as the healthiest eating choices for diabetics, self-management strategies for a healthy life, and new diabetes research.
Once Ian was placed into the CDA webinar project through PM Volunteers, he took on the challenges of creating and implementing new practices for a project that was already underway. He introduced formal project management processes to the organization and made recommendations on ways to improve operations. Ian could see that having webinars along with live sessions offered many potential benefits. “Besides being able to reach out to far more people at a lower cost than traditional face- to-face events, we have been able to attract enough sponsorship to be able to fund other projects,” he said.
Drawing on his training from Langara’s PM program, Ian approached his role as one of enabling others to meet the project objectives and providing direction to bring together resources. “My role in this project [was to be] the person who would assist the team in information management and nudging everyone along the same direction. Each one of my team members are far more talented than myself in their area of expertise so it was my duty to stay out of their way and help them do their jobs. There have been bumps along the way but with advice from my team members, we have been able to put together a project that is running smoothly and can be replicated with a fair degree of success,” added Wong.
In thanking Ian for his contribution, Jill Wurflinger mentioned that there are still many opportunities open for PMs who are looking to volunteer their expertise in the non-profit field. “We are so grateful to Ian for all that he has brought and accomplished during his time with CDA and I would encourage any project managers considering volunteering to explore it and make connections on their way to making a profound difference.”
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Project Management Program