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Harnessing The Power Of People For Better Project Management

Harnessing The Power Of People For Better Project Management
Harnessing The Power Of People For Better Project Management

When businesses are undergoing huge transformations, a project manager with a certification may be helpful, but Sun & Water Consulting can offer something you can’t necessarily certify: people skills. 

“There are tons of people who can do project management, but there’s very few who have the experience and the ability to do large transformation projects well,” says Tom Maxwell, Founder of Sun & Water Consulting. 

The Columbus-based company is a management consulting firm helping companies with their IT and business transformation projects. Tom and Brad Bell, Managing Partner, have taken a unique approach in their hiring and operations that have helped them become one of the top project management firms out there. 

“Project management is an art and a science,” says Brad. “We don’t just look at people who have a project management license.”

Brad says that those types of certifications were important when project managers needed to know how to use certain tools and technologies. However, as more and more of that side of project management becomes automated, the thing that’s really important is the people skills. 

To find expert project managers who have experience leading large-scale, and often transformational projects, Brad and Tom look to industries like education, military, or athletics. Tom and Brad say that the people who come from these industries have incredible skills managing large projects as well as managing people. Moreover, these people are often looking for a change and trying to move into new industries. 

“Think about teachers,” says Brad. “They are excellent at speaking to children and adults, managing a classroom, and planning. They make great project managers because they know how to communicate between different groups, which is so important in project management. They have to be able to connect the people holding the purse strings and the people who are actually doing the work.”

These are the kind of skills that can’t be taught, and it’s exactly the kind of approach that Brad and Tom say have helped Sun & Water Consulting rise above the sea of mediocrity. 

sun and water team
Photo courtesy of Sun & Water Consulting

Brad recalls a recent project that he led for two very large companies divesting from each other. One was a Fortune 15 company and the other was the largest manufacturer of life saving equipment. There was a lot on the line: stock impact, strict regulations to follow, and avoiding disruption to the manufacturing of necessary equipment. 

“We really serve as a partner for the companies,” says Brad. “We weren’t just printing out progress reports, but we were directly contributing to the success of those companies.”

In the end, that’s what Brad and Tom say good project management is all about: being a valued and trusted partner for the companies you serve. 

Another factor that has made the company so successful is how much they value their own people. At Sun & Water, project managers are supported with a healthy culture that helps them live their best lives

By putting faith, family, and passion first (however each team member personally defines those things), Sun & Water project managers are given the opportunity to live healthier lives, avoid burnout, and ultimately do better work. Tom says that this approach helps the company’s clients better understand who Sun & Water is and what they stand for. It’s an approach they respect. 

“We understand the value of people and partnership over process and numbers,” says Brad. Which makes for better project management, happier employees, and highly successful clients. 


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