Imagine landing in the challenging world of project management and finding a community that not only supports but fuels your professional growth.
Keegan McCready, has harnessed the power of communities like the DPM and the local PMI chapter to transform his career journey. Keegan’s story is the living proof of the impact of a supportive community network that helped him not just survive a layoff but thrive in unexpected ways.
Listen in to hear Keegan’s experiences of building relationships, solving complex problems, and scaling Asana across an organization with the collective wisdom of his peers.
- Community’s Impact on Professional Growth [1:08]
- Keegan shares his experiences with the Digital Project Manager (DPM) community and the local Project Management Institute (PMI) chapter. These communities provided him with a network of peers from whom he could seek advice and insights, proving invaluable during challenging times.
- Notably, he leaned heavily on these networks during a layoff in 2023.
- He also emphasizes the value of these communities in helping him solve complex problems, such as scaling Asana across an organization, showcasing the power of collective wisdom in overcoming challenges.
I’m a big fan of learning and seeking growth and development opportunities from other PMs, examining their experiences and how they’ve honed their skill sets.Keegan McCready
- Navigating Project Management and Seeking Support [10:56]
- The importance of mentorship and guidance in career progression is evident in Keegan’s reflections. His experiences underscore the importance of networking and community ties in professional development.
- One of the key takeaways from this episode is the importance of turning challenges into opportunities for growth. Keegan’s journey demonstrates that layoffs, while initially devastating, can lead to unexpected professional growth. By leveraging his network and the resources available within his communities, he was able to navigate the layoff and come out stronger on the other side.
- Keegan highlights how he has been able to tap into the collective wisdom of his peers to solve problems and make critical decisions. This highlights the power of community in fostering professional development and problem-solving.
Meet Our Guest
Keegan McCready is an esteemed community member of the DPM and manager of Project Management. Keegan was among the many people affected by layoffs in 2023, but he was able to find support and lean on the advice and insight from a trusted network of peers in his mastermind group and the communities he’s involved with.
Build that network of like-minded roles and like-minded people so that you can lean on them if and when you need to across your career.Keegan McCready
Resources from this episode:
- Join DPM Membership
- Subscribe to the newsletter to get our latest articles and podcasts
- Check out ProjectManagement.com
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Read The Transcript:
We’re trying out transcribing our podcasts using a software program. Please forgive any typos as the bot isn’t correct 100% of the time.
Michael Mordak: Hey, it's Michael from The Digital Project Manager and welcome to today's Member Spotlight. We've managed to string together the biggest and baddest collection of project managers who are out there creating change and challenging the paradigms that exist in projects today. What's interesting about this community is that it's full of people who probably wanted to do something different with their lives.
While we all come from this diverse set of backgrounds, roles, and industries, we found a calling, organizing the chaos that is, projects. Our unique stories have been shaped by the lessons we've learned, the skills we've developed, and the people we've met along the way. If you want to join, or just learn more about the community, come check out our website at thedigitalprojectmanager.com/membership.
Today we're speaking with esteemed community member and manager of Project Management, Keegan McCready. Keegan was among the many people affected by layoffs in 2023, but he was able to find support and lean on the advice and insight from a trusted network of peers in his mastermind group and the communities he's involved with. We're going to hear Keegan's story about community and how it's impacted his professional career.
Keegan, I'm so glad you were able to join us. Thanks for doing this with me today. Let's just jump right into it. I'd love to hear from you, what kind of communities, obviously you're involved in the DPM community, so we don't have to cover that one, but what other kinds of communities are you involved with?
Keegan McCready: Yeah, excellent question. First of all, thanks for having me. The other communities I'm involved with are all project management related, but I would say they are more local and non-virtual or not remote based. And so I belong to the local chapter of my PMI or Project Management Institute community, primarily in person versus virtual.
The value that I see out of DPM specifically, I think, is that remote first and remote based community. Instead of me having introductions or relationships just with people that live in the greater area located, I now can develop those relationships and opportunities and introductions with people that are quite literally globally.
So, the only other community that I'm a part of would be through PMI.
Michael Mordak: Right on. That's awesome. And then you mentioned that you go to the local chapters there. So where are you located?
Keegan McCready: I'm located West Michigan just outside the Grand Rapids.
Michael Mordak: Perfect. Well, that's really cool to see. So you've kind of got like your bases covered for in person and then also the remote function of it. And then in these communities, I mean, is there anything that you love to talk about? Any topics that you focus in on or things that you love to discuss?
Keegan McCready: I think for me, it's always centered around the big hairy problems that I'm experiencing in my roles. And I think I'm a firm believer in more heads are better than one when you're trying to solve those problems.
And so whether it's, Hey, I'm using a new tool in a new role and I'm not super familiar with it, or I'm scaling a tool or a platform and would like best practice ideas from other people that have done it, or sharing and receiving templates and tools and best practices. I'm a big fan of obtaining with growth and development and training opportunities from other PMs and looking at what they've done and how they honed their skill set and in what ways that they've done that.
Because I think it's shown a light on a lot of different opportunities that you can go and take courses on or take certifications and things that I wouldn't have heard of otherwise. And so I turned to a community of like minded people and leveraged them for the expertise that they have in those types of areas.
Michael Mordak: I love that you are really using those communities to solve your own needs and your own purposes. Basically, you take your problems to them and you make everybody there your team.
Keegan McCready: That's kind of the way I look at it too is, I'm only as knowledgeable of the roles and the positions and the industries that I've had experience in.
A lot of times you end up in these roles and they're using a tool that you've never used before. They've managed their projects in a different way and soliciting ideas and feedback of other PMs that have worked in a variety of different industries as well has been a really, I've shrugged the time from, Hey, I'm, I have a big problem that I'm trying to solve to getting to a V1 solution to that problem by casting that net as wide as possible and going and finding a bunch of PMs that have different skills and experiences that can bring their opinions to the table of how to solve certain things.
I think historically I've been limited to the company that I work for or the local chapters of these communities. And even so, I think your sample size is pretty small. And so when you unlock something like DPM, as an example, you get access to hundreds of other PMs across the globe. There's a huge walls of knowledge there that you can tap into.
Michael Mordak: Yeah, I agree. And what I want to highlight from that, I guess, is the fact that people are around the globe. Like it's literally, it's not just people that are, it might be in your industry or in your city, but it's people, we've got a lot of members that are in kind of like the EMEA area. So, and then also members that are in New Zealand, members that are in South America.
So it's plenty of different perspectives from different cultures and regions of the world that can pile onto that and help you solve their problems. But what I'm really interested in knowing, are there any kind of specific problems, like any big problems that you were able to solve through a community, anything that stands out?
Keegan McCready: I think there's a couple. In a prior role, we were scaling Asana as a project management platform. I was newer to the tool, I had used a very 10,000 foot level in the past. And so I turned to the community and said, Hey, we want to scale this across the entire organization, tips, tricks, and best practices of how you've done that in the past.
And a lot of people came to the table with not only things to absolutely prioritize and do like, Hey, make sure you set up your portfolios and your projects in this way so that there's connectivity between it all. But also a lot of people came with valid learning said like, Hey, I did this in the past.
Here was a big gotcha that ran into us and our team that was doing. And so it was a good use case of, I knew I needed to do it for the role that I was in and seeking what other people who quite literally live through that implementation as well was incredibly valuable. I think a more recent example is in my current role, we use Salesforce as our project management tool.
There are certain limitations and I'm not as familiar with that tool set. And so turning to the community of other people who have used it and trying to get tips and tricks of different ways they've used it and how and so I can take that into my current role and be successful.
Michael Mordak: That's awesome. Yeah, I love the way that you're able to use that.
And I think the big takeaway there is just like, yeah, I guess the ability you have to avoid the mistakes that others have made. So you can walk into these situations, which I mean, it's not like you're the first person to scale Asana, right? So you're not the first person to take that across different departments of your organization.
So you can get advice from people who've done it and have, like you said, had those gotcha moments and then you can just streamline your way to a better solution and avoid a lot of the headaches that might come from that just doing it on your own.
Another question about your involvement in communities, whether this is PMI or DPM, either way, are there any significant career moves or opportunities that have been made available to you only because you were part of those communities?
Keegan McCready: Yeah. Says the short answer to the question. I think there's been several opportunities that have been made available to me. I have not capitalized on any of those opportunities or accepted any positions from them, but that doesn't mean that they don't exist.
I think, as I mentioned earlier, I went through a layoff in the summer of 2023 and the 1st place I turned was the communities and said, hey, PM was part of a workforce reduction looking for my next opportunity. Here's the skills and experience I bring to the table. Here's, loosely speaking, what I'm looking for. Is anybody aware of anything?
And the amount of people that came to the table, not only with just opportunities at face value to say, Hey, my company's hiring, here's the job description. But also just general support, coaching, mentorship, recommendations about people to talk to or websites to go and check out as I was going through that job search and kind of navigating that layoff was invaluable.
And to this day, I'm super appreciative of all the people that reached out and provided those opportunities. And even though I landed a position elsewhere that didn't stem from one of those connections, the fact that I had that many people reaching out with valid connections and positions is something that you don't get just on your own searching via LinkedIn and Indeed and various other websites.
Michael Mordak: Yeah, that's huge. I love that. I mean, going through what you went through, through the workforce production, like that's an awful thing to have to navigate on your own. So, I mean, I really love the way that you're able to lean into those communities and you don't have to feel alone when you're going through that process because you've got, like you said, the support from those people.
Feel free to, if you want to shout out any names from people that played a big role in that, if you wanted to give a call to anyone that really helped you out, feel free to make that known.
Keegan McCready: Yeah, for sure. I think my entire, I'm a part of a mastermind group through DPM and so huge shout out to them because they were obviously the first place that I turned for support and coaching and they provided a bunch of opportunities.
So Sarah, Kelly, Rhonda, Melinda, you guys were a huge help and super appreciative of the support that you provided during that time.
Michael Mordak: That's super cool. I love that. And yeah, the mastermind groups are, they have to be one of my favorite things about this community. I mean, I'm sure that they're available in many other ones.
Actually, do you want to just give a quick kind of debrief of how your mastermind sessions go and what kind of things you guys cover?
Keegan McCready: Yeah, sure. You know, to echo your point, I think masterminds was one of the selling points for me. Joining BPM is to get part of the smaller group of PMs and using that as quite literally a group of masterminds on the particular situation.
And so that was a big selling point for me. For comparison purposes, that is not an option. And like the local chapters around me of getting together, I'm sure you could create one manually if you wanted to, but it's not a built in piece. Our mastermind, it's a group of PMs across a ton of different industries and different experience levels and different experiences that they bring to the table.
We get together on a monthly basis. Topics range pretty greatly, but most of our meetings start with a kind of a win and worry type format of, Hey, here's what's going on in my life. Here are the big wins that I'm experiencing right now in my position. Here at the big worries that are keeping me up at night and then I'm getting a little anxious over.
And then we do a little bit of a round robin to go through those and congratulate the wins where applicable. We really lean into the worries to say like, Hey, what's bothering you in your role and how can we help as a group of PMs? And I think that's where the knowledge sharing and the best practices and just general kind of partnership and coaching comes in the play and that's where I think the biggest value that I've gotten from comes from in the conversations.
Michael Mordak: That's amazing. Yeah, that's super cool to see. And I love that you're taking advantage of that through membership. I think that's, you've already explained how, you know, much support you get from those people. So it's really encouraging to see that.
And I invite everybody who's in membership to go seek out masterminds, because I think there's just so much value to be had from those sessions. Just connecting with other people, I mean, one for the face value of networking with them, but also, like you said, for all those secondary benefits that you get from that.
Next question I want to throw at you is a bit of a twist on it, but I don't want to single anybody out now. You've mentioned some cool people already, but who's the coolest or most influential person you've been able to meet through a community?
Keegan McCready: That's a good question. I don't know that I could narrow it down to just a single person.
I think, you know, I mentioned my mastermind group. So the four of them, plus myself, I mean, I think that's first and foremost, just the coolest and most influential people that I talked to on a regular basis. I value their experience and their thought leadership on all things related to PM on a monthly basis.
But outside of my mastermind group, I think the person I've been classically influenced by the whole time has been Patrice from DPM. And while not firsthand, but you know, in terms of like, I haven't sat down and jammed with her on anything, but her content has been incredibly useful in just navigating daily digital PM life.
Me personally, I've been reeling with decisions around like freelancing and how to best manage that and how to get into the freelance game, especially if I was navigating this layoff. And so I've been a super fan from afar, Patrice, and definitely appreciate all the work and the insight that you put in.
Michael Mordak: Right on. Yeah. She is an incredible person to have in the community, which is, yeah, like she makes herself so available for everybody. I mean, I'm sure if you haven't DM'd her already, that she would be open to helping you out. Yeah, exactly. I know quite a few who have, and she's always makes herself available to help people out, which is incredible.
And she's also been such a big advocate in the job finding space as well, as she runs her own LinkedIn group for PM job finding. So to kind of counteract the highlights and cool moments of communities, because I have to counterbalance the interview, right? So what's your least favorite part that you would say about project management?
Keegan McCready: That's a good question. I can give you all the positives. I don't know that anybody's ever asked me the least favorite part. I think for me, it's a blessing and a curse of trying to balance all of the plates at once. But oddly enough, that's also why I went into project management, if that makes any sense.
So maybe I'm just a glutton for punishment. But the reason I chose project management is because I didn't want to do the same thing every day. I started my undergrad in accounting and I figured out really quick that that wasn't gonna work for me. I couldn't do that for the rest of my life. Got into project management, but I can fully appreciate, as you increase your workload and as you increase, if you're doing freelancing and you're doing side gigs and side hustles and those kinds of things, it can be a lot to balance all of that and make sure that all the plates stay in the air.
And also balancing your personal commitments as well outside of what you're doing on your computer all day long. So I think that's the biggest frustration is trying to keep all of those plates in the air and you're leading without authority very often. And so being able to navigate those relationships and get these projects across the finish line can obviously certainly be a challenge.
Michael Mordak: Yeah, I think that's such a good summary of it and a really interesting kind of view of that, how it is like a blessing and a curse, right? Like, you know, you joined it because you want to solve problems and that it's frustrating because there are so many problems to solve. But it's like the never ending goal line that keeps moving back and you keep slowly working toward it.
That's incredible. I love your perspective on community and all the things that you've gotten out of it. I guess one final question I would like to throw your way before we wrap things up is give me like any kind of words of wisdom for a PM navigating the space right now, in terms of where they should go for some help or to get advice.
Keegan McCready: Yeah, I think a few different areas. One, I would start with the tried and true Project Management Institute, projectmanagement.com. I think there's a lot of what I'll call formal opportunities to get training and certifications that way, which are industry standardized. The other thing is a learning that I came to is don't just tell this concept of communities.
I had never heard of DPM full transparency until I started at my prior gig. And so it's a relatively new thing for me, like within the past couple of years. And I didn't have access to this like huge population of people that do the same jobs as me. And so it was difficult to bounce ideas off of one another.
And so if there is a couple of recommendations, I would say from an academic perspective, lean on the tried and true Project Management Institute and any other courses that you can find via Scrum Alliance, scrum.org. Even DPM has education opportunities. But secondly, I would really lean into networking and relationship building and doing that via these communities makes it really easy and low lift.
It's something that I wish I did early in my career is just like build that network of like minded roles and like minded people so that you can lean on them if and when you need to across your career.
Michael Mordak: Yeah, it's kind of like an insurance like a safety net of needing support. Well, Keegan again, I just want to say thank you for your time. I really appreciate you going through all these questions and humoring me a little bit about your experience with community. I'd love to see your contributions in the channel and I'd love to see how much you're getting out of the mastermind group. Just want to say congratulations on the new role and I hope that goes well for you.
Keegan McCready: Appreciate it. Thanks for having me.
Michael Mordak: Yeah, my pleasure. We'll talk to you soon.
Thanks for tuning into our Member Spotlight with Keegan. He has so much more knowledge and insight to share with you so come chat with us in the Slack channel, along with our entire community of digital project managers. You can learn more about membership on our website at thedigitalprojectmanager.com/membership.
Until next time, thanks for listening.