I had the opportunity to interview Araceli Sanchez, who is a Project Manager for Nuvance Health based in New York and Connecticut. Araceli has been a Project Manager in the healthcare industry since 2016, and I wanted to gain her insight into how her role has changed due to Covid.
1. How did you build relationship with stakeholders once you had to pivot to remotely managing projects?
I decided to have my camera on during every meeting with the stakeholders. I felt it was necessary for people to connect a person with a face, to see who I was, learn a little about each other’s characteristics, make eye contact, and read each other’s body language, etc.
In addition, I posted my professional picture on Zoom and Microsoft Teams. This way if for any reason I could not turn on my camera; the stakeholders or guests could put a face to a name. Interestingly, by the end of March 2020, the rest of my colleagues adopted the same workflow. As of today, about 70% still utilize their camera, and 20% have abandoned the practice all together.
2. How would you compare managing projects pre-Covid vs. during covid?
Pre-Covid, I would travel to different sites and daily tasks (e.g., meetings) were managed in-person, with hand delivery of materials regarding projects.
During Covid, I was dependent on technology 99.9% of the time; I leveraged Zoom, WebEx, and Microsoft Teams to communicate with stakeholders and where I shared materials via video conferencing. The challenge at times was sharing materials and not being able to read the stakeholder body’s language; which was difficult and became non-existent if others did not have their camera on.
Another issue most did not realize was we had to go through numerous security approval measures. This was due to the early online hacking which occurred early during Covid. For example, we were all informed to remove any participant not recognized or end the meeting. Eventually all Project Managers were given a private Zoom account and we had to manage our participant list accordingly (e.g., stakeholder, vendor, contractors, etc.) for each meeting. More than 90% of our role became security/access management during this time frame until the enterprise developed automatic security measures (e.g., meeting password). This was critical because often times we had to discuss or share Personal Health Information (PHI) among various platforms. About 5% of my projects remain onsite; unfortunately some stakeholders are hesitant towards the use of technology.
3. What is your most memorable or impactful memory as a Project Manager?
Military background gave me the experience of being very task driven and the ability to follow specific sequences. For example, in the military when you are given a task, you must execute it and have the ability to think on your feet. These types of skills have enabled me to become a successful Project Manager!
4. What advice do you have for anyone that is thinking about becoming a Project Manager?
My advice would be to attend some type of formal training (e.g., Six Sigma or PMBOK), as being a Project Manager can be very difficult. If you do not understand the concepts and background you will struggle. Another piece of advice is, no two projects are the same and no project is perfect. You have to be fluid and assertive in the environment you are in. Adaptability is the key!
5. Anything else you would like to share?
Something I have learned early on is by having prior leadership experience, gives you insights on how stakeholders think and function. It brings you up to a different level. If you understand a mind of a leader, it will help you in delivering a successful project.
Before becoming an Information Technology Project Manager, Araceli Sanchez was a successful Leader within the emergency and inpatient settings for Nuvance Health (formally Health Quest). Her passion to continue leading and contributing to organizational goals and initiatives, introduced Araceli to project management where she has put her military and leadership skills to use.
For the past five years, Araceli has and continues to lead various projects aimed at application implementations optimizing patient care reporting for local, state and federal regulations. These have improved the patient experience by offering services within a 50-mile radius of any one of the seven Nuvance Health institutions. She understands all projects are unique and there is no single approach that works for her teams; therefore, Araceli has applied her PMBOK knowledge to these situations to serve as a universal language.
She received her education at the University of Phoenix with a Master’s in Business Administration and a Bachelor’s in Health Administration and Health Management. Araceli is also a certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt, having applied these skills in numerous Rapid Improvement Events related to workflow process enhancements, employee engagement and waste reduction.
Although a Texan by heart, Araceli has considered the Hudson Valley (NY) her home for the past 21 years. Both her and her husband are veterans of United States Army and Marine Corp (respectfully) and can be found attending the annual Army/Navy Football game or hosting fellow fans at home. In addition to sharing a love for college football, Araceli and her husband attend car shows throughout the year when not visiting their daughters.