Project Management Team Makes Collaboration a Priority
By Rodney Campbell, ABR Communications Manager
When the ABR Board of Governors announced in June 2020 that all Initial Certification exams were going remote, changes needed to be made to meet the challenge. The first exam under the new format was eight months away and a platform and infrastructure had to be built.
Kristin Gudenkauf, then serving as the ABR associate director for certification services, was chosen to help lead the charge by going back to her former project manager role.
“We announced it, and we needed high-level eyes on the transition,” Kristin said.
The move to remote exams included more than providing a secure and reliable platform. Seasonal employees were brought in to help existing staff as navigators, people who would help guide candidates through the process, right up to and including exam days.
Two of them – Mat Bunting and Jason Clustka – proved talented enough to become full-time employees. Both are now part of Kristin’s team.
Mat moved up quickly through the ranks. A former project manager at Tucson Electric Power, he briefly served as a part-time exam navigator before moving into project management.
His stint as a navigator laid the groundwork for becoming a full-time ABR employee.
“It was good to learn how the ABR works by coming in as remote exams were starting,” Mat said. “It has been gratifying seeing (remote exams) blossom and how much we’ve expanded it over the last year and a half.”
Jason made a stopover before joining project management. He was part of special projects administration, building on his success as a navigator. As an employee with experience making significant contributions to the remote exam process, Jason was a natural for Kristin’s team.
“The jump to project management wasn’t out of nowhere,” Jason said. “I couldn’t think of a better way to keep helping the organization and improving my experience and skills than getting into project management.”
All three have their specialties under the project management umbrella. Mat works on remote exams while Kristin and Jason take on everything else, a list as varied as Online Longitudinal Assessment and volunteer management. Jason also is getting into the remote exam mix.
Each needs to know at least a little something about what the others are doing, and they all have to be familiar with organizational goals and priorities.
“We can’t focus on one thing,” Kristin said. “We have to know enough to make an impact across the board.”
Still early in his ABR career, Jason relishes the chance to pick up more knowledge about the organization. In his new role, he’s getting opportunities.
“I’ve learned something new pretty much every single day,” Jason said. “It’s keeping me on my toes. There’s so much to learn with this organization. I feel like you could be here for five years and still go, ‘Oh, wow. I never knew that.’”
Whether in his time as a navigator or more than a year as a full-timer, Mat has proven to be a valuable team member. He credits co-workers for enabling him to improve the remote exam experience for candidates.
“There is not a single person in this organization who is not there to either help you, support you, get you what you need, or work together as a team,” he said. “It makes my job so much easier.”
No longer flying solo, Kristin has been able to deploy her team’s resources across the organization. Project management’s goal is to work side-by-side with colleagues in other departments rather than telling them what to do.
“They’re very receptive and open to the partnership because we have a history of success in project management now,” Kristin said of her co-workers. “They see that we’re there to benefit and partner with them.”