Finishing Your First Project: An Interview with Vivian Ma January 29th, 2021
In her day job, Vivian Ma is the Regional Talent Manager, Americas. For Magna International.
Vivian has spent over 15 years working in a variety of senior leadership positions in HR for the global organization Caterpillar. She has experience leading across multiple cultures and regions, including the US, Asia Pacific, and China, in Talent Management, Leadership, HR and Organizational Development.
Vivian recently completed her first Endeavour project as the Engagement Manager of the Textile Museum initiative.
What Brought You to Endeavour? How long have you been involved?
My family and I moved to Canada in the summer of 2019. I was very excited to explore a new country and I wanted to understand the business landscape, culture and get to know new friends. I found Endeavour provided very good opportunities for me to contribute, as well as to learn what I’m interested in. More importantly, Endeavor is an organization that helps non-profits overcome their social challenges and helps with their financial, marketing and organizational strategy through project management processes and methodology, which is what I am good at. I believe volunteering with Endeavour and providing support to organizations is the most meaningful and effective way to help non-profits.
Vivian’s first project with Endeavour took place entirely online due to the restrictions associated with COVID-19. So, in addition to starting something new, her team was working exclusively via virtual interactions.
The first and most recent project you worked on was the Textile Museum of Canada, can you tell me how this project went, the challenge your team faced and how you overcame it? Because this project was virtual, how did you help your team?
I worked as the Engagement Management for the Textile Museum of Canada project. The project went very well, and our client was very satisfied with our work. They appreciated our thorough analysis and recommendations with practical execution tools and methodologies.
We did encounter some challenges. The first one was a time shortage in the project timeline. We had to kick off our project 5 weeks later than other teams since our client needed to change their request. However, we were able to catch up and completed our SOW (Statement of Work) on time with all of our team member’s efforts.
The other challenges we encountered were during the project recommendation development phase. We couldn’t get sufficient cost data to support our recommendations on financial resilience. We suggested that the client shift their focus from the financials to the development of better digital programming which could positively impact their financial growth in the long term. With frequent communication and alignment with the client, we were able to gain their support and move forward with the project.
As Engagement Manager, I managed the team with a project management approach, using the following tactics:
- Clear project charter and key deliverable for each phase
- Weekly meetings with a clear agenda
- Summary after every meeting followed by detailed action items and a complete timeline
- Regular meetings with the client to provide project updates and ask questions to help move the project forward.
- Encourage team members to own a piece of the project
How did everyone adjust to working in a virtual environment?
From a team management perspective, it was an encouraging experience that a team who never knew each other before could still work flawlessly together towards the same goal in a remote setting.
What have you gained since joining Endeavour?
I have gained very positive experiences by working with Endeavour coworkers, volunteers and clients. From the project perspective, I understand how big of an impact COVID-19 has been on small businesses and non-profit organizations. I also learned about the museum industry, its products, services and challenges. I also learned about the interests & behaviours of different generations of audiences which I had never experienced before.
What would you say to someone who wants to get involved with Endeavour?
Do not hesitate to sign up with Endeavour, I guarantee the experience will be rewarding. Endeavour has a well-developed internal management process. The organization also allows you to take initiative and take ownership of the projects you work on, as well as work with the team and client closely. All the project management tools and methodologies are developed and ready to share with all the volunteers and experienced project managers are available for coaching.
Vivian Ma is the Regional Talent Manager, Americas for Magna International and was an Engagement Manager with Endeavour Consulting for Non-Profits.
To learn more about how you can join the Endeavour team visit https://endeavourvolunteer.ca/volunteer/
Written by: Mallory Thompson