Sunday, May 22, 2011

How to Get PMP Certified in Two Weeks

I received my Project Management Professional Certification in January, 2011.  I’ve been asked by several people on my strategy as I only had two-weeks to study before my exam date.  Here was my strategy.  Please note this may not work with everyone. 

PMP Exam Prep Strategy

Tools:  PMBOK 4th edition, Crosswind PMP Exam Success Series:  Bootcamp Manual

  • Before doing any studying, I took the 200 question assessment that was provided by Crosswind CD (back of the book).  The assessment showed process groups that I needed to improve. 
  • I started studying each of the process groups, taking the practice test along with the CD assessment for that process group.   I focused heavily on process groups that I scored low based on the initial assessment. 
For more exam strategy and exam day tips and lessons learned, please visit:

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Dean Reinemund speaks on his military experience

On April 21, 2011, at the Customer Service Center for Pepsi Beverages Company, we had an opportunity to invite Dean Reinemund as a key note speaker for the newest Employee Resource Group, VALOR.  VALOR is an employee led group that recognizes, appreciates and supports PepsiCo’s veterans, military members, their families, and the communities in which they live and work. 

Dean shared various stories and his learnings from his military experience.  He served 9 years in the military, in which 4 were in the Naval academy and 5 in the Marines.  In his discussion, he covered four main areas on how the military has helped him succeed:
  • Military introduced the principal of servant leadership
  • Helped defined a moral compass
  • Allowed him to see the role and the criticalness of culture
  • Allowed him to see a difference between training and education
 Below are the highlights from the discussion:

Servant Leadership

            A great leader is one that shares the notion of service to others.  In his military experience, leaders always eat last.  It is critical to take care or serve others first.  He gave a story of a platoon leader.  The platoon team that wins is when the leader of the group cares for the team.  

Moral Compass

            A difference between great vs. ineffective leaders is the notion of having a good moral compass.  Dean shared his moral compass in which faith is at the core with family, friends, and country being surrounded by the core. 

Role of Power

            Power is a two edge sword.  Leaders that use power for good leads to greatness while the opposite leads to devastation.   Dean reminded us to stand up for what is right and not to go along with leaders that abuse powers out of loyalty and fear. 

Role of Diversity

            Military was one of the first institutions that were the most diverse.  Everyone was at a level playing field.  It taught Dean the importance of diversity and how it is crucial to success in the organization.  

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Pamela Culpepper - SVP of Global Diversity and Inclusion for Pepsico speaks on diversity and inclusion topics

On March 18th 2011, we celebrated Women’s month at the Customer Service Center for Pepsi Beverages Company and invited Pamela Culpepper, Senior Vice President, Global Diversity and Inclusion officer of PepsiCo to speak to our organization around diversity and inclusion.  The conversation was around answering key questions on three topics:
·        Career Advancement
·        Lessons Learned
·        Work Life Balance

What is the secret to getting promoted?

Pamela introduced the P.I.E model as the secret to getting promoted – Performance, Image, and Exposure. 
  • Performance is the price of entry.  It impacts trust and demonstrates you have the ability to go to the next level.  It is important that you are open to feedback - obtain guidance and direction from others.  A key litmus test is to compare your performance to others and then ask others to rate you. 
  • Image is not only how you appear to others but it is also the ability to portray yourself in words.  Don’t fall into the trap of your work speaks for yourself.  Communicate what you have accomplished clearly and concisely so that other senior leaders are not interpreting your effort.  Another dimension of communication is non-verbal – ensure your intended messages are complimentary with your non-verbal cues such as tone and body language.
  • Exposure – Once you have proven yourself with performance and have the image that you are promotable, next step is to surround yourself with influential sponsors in the organization that will sell you to the rest of the organization. 
When using the P.I.E methodology, key factor to understand is Exposure makes up the largest percentage – 60% and Performance is only 10%.  The only way you can enter the pool of potential candidates is through strong performance.  Once you are viewed as a strong performer, it is crucial to focus on Image (30%) and getting the right visibility.  As a leader, this is where you can develop skills such as delegation and empowerment – training and allowing others to do your job. 

What are Pamela’s lessons learned?

Pamela provided great insights of what she has learned throughout that has made her successful in her journey.  She labeled these as developmental career nuggets.    
  • Know what is important to your organization
  • Know your limitations – Major in self awareness
  • Make it easy for others to give you feedback
  • Create a climate of trust around you
  • Learn how to deal with 1st times
  • Be an early adopter of change
  • Be consistent and predictable when it comes to deliverables

You have a family – How do you balance?

  • Balance is in the eye of the beholder
  • Spouses (for women) may need to be subjective to new titles – trailing spouses, stay at home dad
  • Quality over quantity related to time
When you hear a great speaker, such as Pam Culpepper, that excites you about making a change, it is important that you reflect and create action plans.  As a minority female, one of the points that hit the heart was the P.I.E allocation.  I’ve always focused solely on performance and not worried about other factors, especially image.  Image makes up 30% - which is a crucial ingredient to be successful.  In addition, as part of the millennial generation, it is essential to minimize distractions.  Our generation has a different outlook in terms of image and communication.  More than ever, organizations are seeking to adapt in order to attract and retain the Gen Y workforce.  If you have joined an organization that is slow to accepting Gen Y idiosyncrasies, minimizing distractions – such as personal appearance and tailoring your communication style – will go a long way.  Not every organization is going to be like Zappos – where there are parades, beer carts on special occasions, and you can wear flip flops.     

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Key Lessons Learned: The LEGO Experience


During the Welcome Reception for the Elevator Competition, Colin Gillespie, the senior director of marketing for LEGO Direct, was invited to provide a keynote speech. His speech was themed turnaround to transformation for the LEGO organization. When reflecting on Gillespie’s message, there are key lessons that we can incorporate in our professional and personal lives.


“Love what you sell…Sell what you love…Create amazing experiences”

Gillespie loved the LEGO brand as it was one of his childhood toys. When you are passionate about the brand or service, loving what you sell becomes inherent. When you combine loving what you sell with selling what you love, you then have the ability to create amazing experiences for your target audience. LEGO introduced the opening of their Rockefeller store by creating a giant apple with the help of the New Yorkers. The giant apple was a great marketing technique as it not only created a symbol for New York but involved the locals in order to create an amazing experience that they will never forget.

Continuous Improvement

“The best is still not good enough”

In order to become world class, you have to constantly look at ways of improving your best. Going overboard can also be damaging when you are stretched too thin. For example, LEGO developed theme parks, TV shows, computer games, dolls, and created life-style products. This allowed them to lose focus on their core products and they suffered profit loses.

Core Competencies

When stretching beyond core competencies, you lose sight of focus and start the walk of desert

When LEGO suffered loses in 2003 and 2004, they went back to the core - what are their core competencies. They had to set a crisp and clear direction and change the way they do business. They had to find ways to restore competitiveness and reduce the assets that were the most risky. They also needed great leadership to bring them back to basics. When LEGO made the turn from turnaround to transformation, they understood their core assets, had a matching business model, there was high amount of ownership and passion, and right people were hired to do the job.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Feeling Stressed?

Working full-time job, Evening MBA at Wake Forest (No piece of cake), spending time with family, taking care of home, maintaining friendships...the list can go on and on.

I personally like really allows me at times to focus and get things done. Stress can be good and bad. Understanding the trend of when we go from good stress to bad is key and will allow us to perform better.

I came across an interesting article that speaks to the subject. The key is to understand the Yerkes-Dodson Curve and when we are going too much on the right.


Our attention, mood, stamina, and body tells us if we need to start stress reduction methodologies so that we can control our stress. Ways we can start reducing our stress is to break-away from work 10 to 20 minutes, do a different task, or go somewhere for meditation. We also have to equip our bodies to handle stress and some long term items we can implement are:
  • Ask your company to build a relaxation room where employees can go relax and rejuvenate
  • Exercise regularly
  • Balanced diet
  • Sleep!!!!
  • My favorite: Avoid negative expectations - Always think positive thoughts

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Generational Diversity - Embrace the Change!

I just read a fantastic article on managing generation diversity at the workplace. As a millennial, especially in management, majority of my peers tend to be from a different generation. The beauty of diversity is that everyone brings something unique to the table and for me, I bring a lot of my "millennialism" which can be a huge source of conflict, especially if I'm in the minority. According to the article, the most common areas of conflict come from the following:
  • Choosing where and when to work
  • Communication among team members
  • Planning and scheduling
  • Accessing information and learning
The best way to handle the conflict is to be first aware there are differences and develop strategies to cope with the differences. Education is key as it increases knowledge and helps eliminates biases and stereotypes. Making gradual changes to accommodate the generation differences will allow both to co-exist. (Yes - Millennials and Baby Boomers can work together!)

In my experience, I seek ways to work with ones that have a harder time adjusting to the Millennial style. Once they understand me and see the throughput I produce at work, the biases and the stereotype slowly disappear. This strengthens our professional relationship and allows us to co-exist. There are some people that have deep rooted biases and takes time and patience to eliminate their perceptions but it is very necessary to keep up the fight and constantly educate.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Paying It Forward: 2011 Women’s Weekend

This year, the Graduate Women in Business (GWIB), hosted the Women’s Weekend, with the theme, “Paying it Forward” on Feb. 25-26. This was the first year they invited prospective students to join the event.

The weekend began with a dessert and cocktail reception with keynote speaker, Lisbeth Evans, who shared her marvelous story on why it is important to follow your dreams. She came from a strong family of very educated women. She is a “Double Deac” herself and her story truly showed how she followed her passion. She started out being a teacher after completing her undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University. After a year of teaching, she went to Wake’s business school to earn an MBA. After business school, she worked as a developer for a real estate company, joined Morgan Stanley, worked for the government and was a former N.C. Secretary of the Department of Cultural Resources, and invested in the fashion industry.

Evans is currently the owner of Once Upon an App, which makes educational programs and games for children. Her underlying message was to go pursue your dreams: We as women need to have the power and self confidence to follow our passion and it could lead us in various industries, roles, and paths.

On Saturday, the event kicked off with having the Alumni Panel. Our panelists consisted of Evans; Katharina Haynes Bethea, associate marketing manager at Wal-Mart; Kathy Hackshaw, general manager of Tanger Outlets; and Kelly Lockwood-Primus, vice president of marketing for Primo Water Corp. Topics of discussions included challenges women will face, mentoring, and paying it forward. Here are key points from the discussions:

  • Challenges Women will face in the work-place
    • We as women want to do it for less, which is okay if it is a job that you want to do and are passionate about.
    • Make sure you are aware of your talents. Don’t pigeonhole yourself in an industry.
    • Women are often self-critical.
    • It is easier for women to blend in, especially if they are the only girl at the table. When you start blending in with the rest of your counterparts, you automatically set yourself to lose. Don’t be afraid to show your feminine side – express yourself
    • Sometimes, in order to maintain your passion, leaving the company may be the possibility. Have a good balance of work and life. Develop a social support.
    • Strongly recommend reading the book: How to succeed without a penis and learning how to play golf.
  • Mentoring
    • Studies have shown that mentorships are very crucial in order to be successful in your career
    • Connecting with a mentor and ensure they have the skill set that can help you get to the next level. Use different mentors at different times of a career
    • Have a sponsor: Someone that can promote or advertise you to others in the organization. The sponsor should have a big enough voice in the organization.
    • Mentoring should be a two-way street. Allow the mentor to provide you guidance but also ask them if you can assist them on a project or a task
    • Shadowing the mentor is also a great way to get the experience
  • Paying it Forward
    • Need to have the mentality to provide support to others based on lessons learned not getting stuck in your own personal struggles. For example, if it took me five years to get there, teach others of your struggles so they can make it there in less time.
    • Always have each others back – not being catty.
    • Provide constructive feedback to others if they are unwilling to bring you along.
    • If there is back-biting, address it head-on.

After lunch, we had a great session by Kathy Korman Frey, founder of The Hot Mommas Project, on the topic of New Sisterhood of success. Here were the key highlights:

  • To Don’t List
    • It is not enough just to have a to-do list. Having a “to-don’t” list will allow you to maximize your time effectively. Key point in this discussion is to stay out of the e-mail vortex of death, where we often want to check a quick e-mail and fall into a malicious trap of responding and addressing issues that can wait.
  • Value Spreadsheet
    • Quantify your value. Do a quantitative analysis on what you are worth to the organization. This will assist with salary negotiations.
  • Understand needing support where you log most hours
    • This will allow you to have more focus. What are the most important priorities that need to be completed and reaching out for support?
  • Work-Life balance
    • Playing multiple roles – at home, work. Women typically get a lot of care giving responsibilities, whether it is child care or taking care of elderly relatives.
  • 5 Mentors
    • Studies have shown that women that have five or more mentors are more successful.
  • Key message for all women: Ask others how you can support them by providing your examples and experiences. Forum technique, where you are not giving advice but experiences builds a support network.

Overall, the Women’s weekend was a big success. There were a lot of experience sharing and knowledge that we were sharing. Key to keeping this momentum going to ensure you are following the techniques provided and not allowing constraints of real life sneak up. As a millennial female in the workforce, this has taught me a valuable lesson. The key message it has taught me is the idea of paying it forward. The struggles I have faced in the workforce or at school needs to be shared with others so the next generation of women can learn from my mistakes and take that knowledge and pay it forward to the next.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Diversity at Pepsi

Diversity at Pepsi

"Although creating a diverse workforce is important, we must also create an inclusive environment where everyone -- regardless of race, gender, physical ability or sexual orientation -- feels valued, engaged, and wants to stay and be part of our growth. It is only through inclusion that we will fully unleash innovation -- and growth for our business and associates."
~ Pepsico’s view on Diversity
WFU Business School Headshots 8-20-09Yesterday, I attended a case discussion on the Diversity Challenge at Pepsico, a program at the Wake Forest University Schools of Business that explored why it took Pepsico so long to figure out and develop a diversity agenda. The event, held on campus, also delved into the diversity strategy employed by Steve Reinemund, the dean of our business school, while he was the company’s chairman and CEO.
Here are some key highlights:
  • The pace of change was slow because Pepsico was a stable company.
  • The strategy included two phases – The first phase was involved meeting retention and diversity numbers and the second phase focused on inclusion and creating a culture change to accept diversity and make it part of the organization.
  • Many top-level executives did not understand why the diversity agenda was important during the year 2000 time era. They classified it as “Steve’s project.”
  • The need of diversity was crucial due to the changes of the market place.
    • With diversity, you don’t know what you don’t know but having intent at the table is a crucial component.
    • It was important that Pepsico kept trying with diversity, using several tactics. They did not give up.
After the case discussion ended, Dean Reinemund provided his comments. Here are the highlights:
  • Three distinct ways you can take the case:
    • How a leader sets vision
    • How a leader takes the vision and executes change management
    • Diversity by itself
  • How Dean Reinemund rated the strategy:
    • Grade on setting vision: A
    • Change management side: C+/B-
    • Diversity: Unsure how to grade
  • Vision setting: Big advantage that Dean Reinemund had with Pepsico was that he had 20 years of experience at the company. He understood the organization and had time to assess its strengths and opportunities.
  • Cultural change at an established company takes a long time.
  • Dean Reinemund wanted to focus on three cultural changes during his time at Pepsico:
    • Move the company in health and wellness
    • Focusing on the values of the company
    • Diversity
  • Winning with diversity and inclusion is one of the value statements
  • In 2000 diversity was not a clear picture for corporations. The need of having a diverse workforce was needed due to the rapid rate of growth of seven major urban markets.
  • Having the phases was important because there was not enough diverse mass in mid- management and senior management in order to start the discussion process.
  • Major change cannot be democratically changed … major change occurs when there is a rival.
  • Dean Reinemund had an awakening after his implementation of phase 1 and the reviews he received from Stanford University. He learned that diversity and inclusion are a learning journey. It forced him to change the way he delivered the message about diversity as he had to think deeply about the motive for diversity.
As an employee of Pepsi Beverages Company, a division of Pepsico, the case discussion was a great experience. Diversity is a journey and Pepsico remains on that journey. As a young professional, it is often frustrating when I understand the importance of diversity, due to my own experiences, and when others around you at the workplace are still not quite there. As Pepsico tried and tried and did not give up on the diversity agenda, similarly, bringing others along to see your point of view can be a challenge, but can yield great success. The key is to communicate and learning how to deliver the message.