Sunday, April 14, 2013

Working on PDUs

Last Tuesday I attended a day long symposium on project management. About 120 to 150 people attended the event. There were interesting speakers and the event was a welcome break from work. The event was held in a convention center in downtown, about 35 minutes from home. I had a chance to network and meet new people as well as banter with my office mates who attended. There were a lot of interesting lectures and I remember 2 exceptional ones. Looking back at the symposiums I attended in Singapore, I could not recall a specific outstanding lecture though I am sure there where exceptional ones there too. The speakers where well prepared and some had excellent visual aids. I recalled how terrible I was when I presented at the Singapore symposium; I had written a good paper (I felt) for the presentation but got nervous and flustered when I stood in the podium to deliver my talk. I had been attending Toastmaster for some time when I volunteered to present but all went to naught when I stood in front of the audience. I was given a plaque of appreciation and had dinner with the team but felt I did not deserve the gratitude.  I guess I did not do badly when one is less emotional thinking about it.

My speaking event was the most memorable episode that I can recall among my many memories of attending the Singapore symposiums. These event had about 1000 people or more attending, where dinners where held in large ballrooms, and stretched to 2 -3 days. It was a huge occasion and I can recall lining up for food, reserving seats in the meeting rooms, going home or drinking with GK - my colleague who I usually go with at these events – a fellow project manager struggling to earn the expected PDUs. I guess it was the drinking session at the bars we frequented was the highlight for me, eating good food like crispy pork belly, hot Indian samosa and cold beer, looking out into the night, telling stories and trying to guess what would happen to our lives if the company closed. I guess it was a stressful time because our future was uncertain, the company restructuring while we were still installing and deploying systems around Asia while training the outsource people who will be replacing us. Thank God the future turned out well for me, moving here to the South and continuing my career. But I lost many good friends and a great country to live in with only the memories of those pleasant lunches with my friends and the bar hopping at night.

The next day, Wednesday, was our usual Toastmaster meeting day where I evaluated a speech and served as table topics master, speaking several times.  I felt more confident now after spending 6 years in Toastmaster. It was a strange feeling that moment when I talked in front of the audience, after recalling my near speaking disaster in the Singapore symposium years ago, a memory brought back by the Tuesday event.  Somehow I felt that I turned a corner, especially since I crossed the last project milestone for the small project I was working on, an endeavor estimated to cost about USD$ 75k. Now I am heading towards a new assignment where I will be working as a project manager like in the days in Singapore. In the last 4 years I have been here, I worked more as an analyst, an interesting job because it allows one to learn about the business. The new assignment is more management; it entails working with people and doing administrative work. So now I have to make sure I keep my certification up to date.

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