Galen Low is joined at Capterra by Olivia Montgomery, a Senior Analyst. She discusses how her combination of PM skills and a background in social sciences allows her to navigate personalities within IT projects. Learn how psychology can help you be a better PM.
Interview Highlights
Olivia is an IT program manager with extensive experience. She is passionate about combining the worlds of technology and social sciences. With a CSM, a PMP and a Masters in Liberal Arts, she is now a specialist in qualitative research and analytics, project management consulting, and small business technology strategies at Capterra. [1:23]
Olivia enjoys watching psychological horror films and is competitive equestrian jumper outside of work. [1:43]
Olivia aspired to be an English professor. She also wanted to be an Olympic gymnast. She wanted to be a horse jumper at the Olympics. [4:37]
After graduating from college, Olivia made the jump to project management and IT. She started writing for a company that processes payments and also produces accounting software called Shift4. Their software development team was scrum-style, so she learned about scrum, how teams work together, as well as JIRA. [4:51]
After working at Shift4, Olivia began consulting as a business analyst, gathering user requirements and writing QA scripts. It just kept evolving from there. [5:43]
Olivia’s first official project was as a BA in the company’s public listing and replacement of their ERP to comply with SOX. [6:45]
When Olivia was heading up the IT PMO’s last role, she was actually a client at Gartner. She was working with Gartner’s analysts and receiving help in maturing her processes and all. [8:58]
Olivia has moved from an operational PM role to an advisory position at Capterra. Olivia’s day-today work consists of surveying and talking to SMB leaders about their tech issues or software problems and getting to know what they need. [9:36]
MBAs and marketing professionals are the best candidates for leaders and executives. IT students study computer science. Both have different communication styles and values, so they have different communication training. [19:13]
Olivia saw Dr. Erin Leonard’s article, “High EQ is a Superpower” in Psychology Today. Dr. Leonard is a psychologist and wrote a specific example about a project manager’s reaction if they had a high EQ versus a lower EQ. This would have a compounding effect for their project. [20:24]
Olivia has a “bank of references” that she can draw from after studying language, narratives and stories for more than a decade. This helps her to relate to more people than if it wasn’t. [25:05]
Social sciences encourage and train flexibility in the mind unlike any other field of study.
Olivia Montgomery Requirements gathering is an important aspect of stakeholder management on a technical project. You gather requirements from your executives and managers, as well as your supervisors, managers, supervisors, actual users, coders, engineers, and QA testers. They must also understand what’s going on. [28:55]
Meetings are another aspect of stakeholder management for technical projects. Meetings are where all the personalities come together. You need to be efficient with your time and effective with communication. Effective communication and time management are key to a successful meeting. Depending on how much preparation you put into it, it can either be very successful or very unsuccessful. [35:11]
“I strongly believe in categorizing and labeling clearly the meeting type that is taking place.
Olivia Montgomery Once you have done your meeting prep, and the people know exactly what to expect when it comes to sharing their information, it is time to really listen to their responses.