PMI Atlanta Chapter - Forums Summaries

“PMO as Governance: Must Dos for New PMOs”: May Governance Forum Summary

By Kashif Choudry

The May PMI Atlanta Governance Forum hosted Magaline Harvey, PMP. Magaline is an accomplished Project Management Consultant who leads Training and Mentoring in her role as VP of ACS Professional. Magaline did a fantastic job in taking a governance topic “Do’s and Don’ts for new PMOs” and making it easy to understand and digest for the audience members, even those that aren’t currently in a Governance role.


If you are starting a PMO, or a program governance body, what are the key success factors to keep in mind? Magaline made note of the following:

  • Executive Buy-In (this is paramount)
  • Defining Strategy
  • Where does PMO Fit within Big Picture
  • Operational Level Agreements / Service Level Agreements and Mapping
  • Management By Objectives

As far as definition of the strategy, one of the key messages is that you need to build a “Leadership Culture” rather than a “Management Culture”. The leadership culture encourages innovation, growth, and fulfillment of potential. To illustrate this idea, Magaline presented this slide which juxtaposed how the two types of cultures compare with each other. This slide resonated strongly with our audience:

Leadership Culture          Management Culture 
 Invest in People  Invest in Tools
 Encourage Risk  Punish Failure
 Collaborate  Compete
 Challenge Everything  Protect Status Quo
 Reward Contribution  Reward Potential
 Close GAPS  Set Boundaries
 Think Span of Influence        Think Span of Control

The highly interactive discussion helped the audience members benefit from the concepts highlighted by Magaline in their roles as Project Managers. The volume of questions prompted Magaline to set up a follow-on virtual session on a later date to help answer open items that could not be addressed in the meeting.

We’d like to give special thanks to Magaline Harvey for sharing her lessons learned and her open hand to take on a mentoring relationship with audience members.

We would also like to thank our sponsors at Global Payments for being our steady and supportive hosts for 3+ years.

If you would like to learn more about Governance and the value it brings to projects, please join us at a future forum. The calendar can be found on the PMI Atlanta website.


PMI Atlanta serves project managers in Metro Atlanta, and we're an active resource to corporations, community and government agencies throughout north Georgia. With over 4,000 members, PMI Atlanta is the second largest chapter in the US and fifth largest in the world. Our professional expertise span across industries; we’re the professionals building healthcare information technology systems, the engineers developing smarter public transportation, and the planners growing our communities more efficiently.


Written by Glenn Boylan, PMP

The March Technology Forum featured a fascinating presentation titled "The Data Driven Revolution: The Future of Corporate Technology", presented by Steven Kostyshen.

My reaction to Mr. Kostyshen’s talk can be summed up in two words. Mind. Blown.

Co-chairs Nancy Berlin and Steve Kruger opened the Forum, which was once again hosted by Hewlett-Packard Enterprise in their beautiful new café. Nancy and Steve reviewed the upcoming Atlanta chapter meetings, including two new “PM in the AM” events coming up in April – one at the Georgia International Convention Center near the airport on the 18th, and the second at Alpharetta Presbyterian Church on the 19th.

They also reminded everyone that both the Technology Forum and the Atlanta chapter have numerous volunteer opportunities available. Becoming a volunteer helps the chapter, grows your network, and gets you additional PDUs. That’s a win-win-win.

Go to the chapter web site at for all the details on upcoming meetings and volunteering.

Nancy then introduced Steven Kostyshen. His talk was a futuristic discussion about what Steve believes will be unprecedented change in almost all aspects of society due to the advancements in Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Steve has worked internationally in over two dozen countries and dealt with senior executives at numerous Fortune 500 companies. He’s now an angel investor assisting young entrepreneurs and their new enterprises.

Any discussion of what will happen in the future is obviously speculative to some degree, but Steve has been around technology most of his career, so he has some perspective. He discussed how he spent a lot of time at those Fortune 500 companies explaining to their executives the anticipated benefits of a then new technology called “the Internet”. Steve recalled that at that time, the promises of the Internet seemed very grandiose. But in retrospect those grandiose promises turned out to be much less than what the Internet actually delivered.

In looking toward the future, it’s instructive to look at the history of how technology impacted industry. Steve told us that the Ford Motor Company used to estimate their cash flow by comparing the height of their stack of Accounts Receivable receipts to the height of their Accounts Payable stack. Financial work was one of the first work areas to be impacted by computers, and more of white collar labor soon followed.

A good approximation is that it took about 40 years for computerization to get to the point it’s at today. Even though 40 years is not long for the significant amount of change that has occurred, it only took that long because humans were integral to developing and implementing the technology.

The very dramatic difference that Mr. Kostyshen sees now is that with ML and AI, humans are essentially eliminated from the development and implementation of technology.

Computers learn faster than humans. Computers propagate knowledge faster than humans. Computers do not resist change. ML and AI will create a hyper competitive environment that may threaten not only those who oppose it, but also those who accept it. Steve anticipates more change in the next 10 years than we’ve seen in the last 30.

Mind. Blown.

Steve expects significant functional impacts to human capital management (recruitment, performance analysis, employee satisfaction) and customer relationships (customer lifecycle management, demand generation, and customer segmentation).

The three largest growth areas of the economy right now are healthcare, education, and leisure. Both healthcare and education are ripe for automation. Jobs within those industries may soon follow travel agents, stock brokers, and architects – which are jobs that Steve said have had the largest losses due to the Internet.

The key to all this is no surprise. It’s data. Having and leveraging data will be key.

This will take a change in perspective for many companies, which today see data as a cost or a liability. Plus, there are significant challenges to the effective use of data, not the least of which is its enormous quantity. Another fundamental shift that will be required is for companies to organize their data based on business needs, not system needs.

Steve thinks that the organizations who stand to benefit the most and the quickest are Google, Facebook, and Amazon because they have the data. And they are leaders in leveraging the data they have.

Mr. Kostyshen’s presentation wrapped up with a lively Q&A session with the Forum participants. Our thanks again to Steve for this very interesting presentation.

Please plan to join us at the next Technology Forum which will be on Tuesday, April 25th, also at the HP-E office in Alpharetta.

"Concept to Reality – Successfully Sell Ideas and Secure Executive Funding": February Technology Forum Summary

Written by Glenn Boylan, PMP

PMI Atlanta’s February Technology Forum was held on Tuesday, February 28th, where Sarah Ming Hsi presented a very informative and interesting talk titled "Concept to Reality – Successfully Sell Ideas and Secure Executive Funding".

Steve Kruger started the festivities at the Hewlett-Packard Enterprise office in Alpharetta. Once again the Technology Forum enjoyed the amenities of HP-E’s fantastic new café. Our thanks to HP-E for sharing it with PMI.

Steve reviewed PMI Atlanta’s upcoming events and reminded everyone about the many volunteer opportunities available for the Forum and the Atlanta chapter. For the full schedule of events and more details on how you can volunteer (and earn extra PDUs!), go to the chapter web site at

Steve introduced Ms. Hsi, who is the Chief Information Officer for the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transportation Authority (MARTA). Sarah started her career as a developer at AT&T. Her first job at MARTA was as an Oracle database administrator. She moved from databases to project management and program management, earning her PMP and PgMP certifications along the way. Being a program manager ignited her interest in a more strategic role, leading to the opportunity for her to become MARTA’s CIO.

In the first part of her presentation, Sarah shared some background on MARTA and an overview of what the agency is working on this year.

MARTA is the ninth largest mass transit system in the country, averaging 450,000 weekday boardings. These passengers use 338 rail cars, 565 buses, and 211 vans which are kept running by over 5,000 MARTA employees. All this adds up to a $2.1 billion input to the regional and state economies.

Security is vitally important to the agency, and to that assist in that they have over 12,000 cameras installed around the system, which includes 2,000 cameras at rail stations and major bus stops. That’s a lot of video, so MARTA is in the process of implementing video analytics software to help keep track of it all.

Looking to provide more than just transportation, MARTA recently introduced some amenities to their ride services – things like food trucks at stations, a bicycle sharing program, jazz events, and the popular Pianos for Peace initiative that placed pianos at several stations, inviting anyone to sit down and play. In addition, transit oriented development is in progress around several rail stations, including the Edgewood and Avondale stations.

Innovation and technology play important roles is keeping MARTA competitive. MARTA is teaming with City of Atlanta on smart city initiatives as well as working to incorporating the power of the Internet of Things (IOT) into the system. One of the key innovation techniques the agency uses is their “Hackathon” which invite teams from the public to come up with ideas to improve MARTA’s services. Last year’s Hackathon had over 197 participants. Hackathons have resulted in system improvements ideas ranging from train scheduling to waste receptacle management.

As CIO, Sarah is at the forefront of MARTA’s technology initiatives. The Breeze fare card program is completing a significant upgrade this year. The next step for fares is a purchase and ride application for smart phones. This app is in the pilot stage now, with 500 pilot users. So far MARTA has is getting an 88% approval rating on the app from these users.

A major technology initiative, and the focus of Ms. Hsi’s presentation, was the distributed antenna and Wi-Fi network being installed throughout the system. Sarah is responsible for the project from concept to reality, and as you can imagine, there were significant logistical, technical, and funding issues to be resolved.

Sarah stressed the importance of simplifying the scope – and therefore simplifying the messaging to stakeholders, including vendors and management. Previous projects to implement the Wi-Fi network at MARTA did not get off the ground, largely due to complicated scopes of works (and the resulting complicated RFPs) and confusing messages to the stakeholders.

By thoroughly analyzing the scope and requirements, the MARTA team was able to simplify the scope of the project without compromising the overall requirements. This was critical to providing clear, concise communication to MARTA management, government authorities, and participating vendors. Effective communication was the key, Sarah said, to getting project approval and continuing the successful project implementation.

The programs and initiatives Sarah shared with the Forum seem to be striking a chord with MARTA’s riders. A November ballot proposal for a half-cent sales tax increase within the City of Atlanta to help fund the transit programs passed with a remarkable 71% approval by the voters.

The Technology Forum appreciates Sarah taking the time to share her insights with us. The Forum attendees, which included both long-time riders and those not familiar with MARTA, learned a lot about the system and the successful project management techniques Sarah’s teams use so effectively.

The Technology Forum meets on the fourth Tuesday of the month except in August and December. The next Forum will be Tuesday, March 28th. Come join us.

"We Have Met the Enemy, and He Is Us: Cyber Security Issues and What You Can Do About Them": January Technology Forum Summary

Written By Glenn Boylan, PMP

Scott-David-2The January Technology Forum was held on Tuesday, January 31st, and featured a very interesting keynote presentation titled “We Have Met the Enemy, and He Is Us: Cyber Security Issues and What You Can Do About Them” presented by David Scott.

Steve Kruger and Nancy Berlin kicked off the event which was hosted by Hewlett-Packard Enterprise in their new café at their office in Alpharetta. The café has been completely re-done and is a beautiful facility for both HP-E and HP employees. Our thanks to HP-E for sharing it with PMI Atlanta.

The Forum also wants to thank the Rezult Group which sponsored the food for the event, and provided some great swag for the meeting attendees. The Rezult Group provides staffing solutions for companies seeking talent in healthcare IT, finance, accounting, and of course, technology. They have just opened an Atlanta office. For more information, go to their web site at

Steve and Nancy reviewed PMI Atlanta volunteer opportunities and events, including this year’s Technology Forum schedule. The Tech Forum will meet on the fourth Tuesday of the month except for August (when Nancy will be at the beach) and December. Melody Cookson announced that there will be an Alpharetta series of the popular “PM in the AM” breakfast meetings on the third Wednesdays of each month, starting April 19th. For more information on volunteering and upcoming events, go to the chapter web site at

Nancy then turned the meeting over to David Scott of Mission Advantages, LLC. David got everyone’s attention by asking the question “Are you aware of the greatest threats and risks to your organization?” and he kept it by linking The Varsity, a rubber duck, and Mountain Dew to the key basic principles of cyber security.

"Agile Games with Joshua Jack": November Agile Forum Summary

Written by Tarun Sethi

Joshua Jack was the speaker at the Agile Forum on Nov. 15. Joshua is the Agile Leader for the Eastern Region with Matrix Resources. He discussed how he has used games as an Agile Leader. Games can be used to teach adults 21st century skills such as: overcoming challenges, problem solving, leadership and responsibility, teamwork and flexibility and adaptability. Benefits of games on the brain include: Increased motivation, increased testosterone, Improved memory, increased brain size (increase in volume of white matter which helps form connections), increased empathy and increased efficiency.

Joshua used Speed Uno and Penny Points to teach concepts like "one thing at a time", pull system, bugs/waste and teamwork. He also used Build It games to teach lessons re: trade-offs and negotiations. Simple game like Picture Taboo can be used to illustrate communications challenges among teams. Additional games ideas can be found on sites like and and