Project Management Institute

Straight Talk With Sunil Episode 15 - Embracing Youth and the Next Generation of Changemakers

Embracing Youth and the Next Generation of Changemakers

Hear how we're broadening our community and empowering youth in this episode of Straight Talk with Sunil

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27 May 2021

Welcome to another episode of Straight Talk with Sunil. In this edition the focus is on how PMI is broadening its community, and specifically focusing on youth. For this discussion, President and CEO Sunil Prashara is joined by Anja Blacha, who oversees PMI's Youth Strategy, and Kenneth Harris II, Senior Engineer with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and inaugural Future 50 Honoree.

PART 1 - Introducing Anja Blacha

Meet Anja Blacha, the leader of PMI's Youth Strategy. Sunil and Anja discuss her background in telecom and her impressive career as a climber and explorer, as well as what brought her to PMI. Anja shares her aim to bring project management as a life skill concept to young people around the globe to enable and empower them to make their passions a reality. (4:07)

PART 2 - Introducing Kenneth Harris II

Meet Kenneth Harris II, Senior Engineer at NASA as he talks about how he came to NASA, the types of projects he works on, and his PM philosophy. Kenneth shares his tenure at NASA, beginning as a 16 year old intern, and the 'secret sauce' he and his team employ working on some of the most complex missions at the agency. (4:06)

PART 3 - PMI's Youth Strategy

Anja walks through PMI's strategy to achieve hundreds of thousands of enablements over the course of 2021. She and Sunil explore how PMI's Youth Strategy aims to secure PMI's place as the organization that takes down barriers and provides tools for youth to make reality now. (4:29)

Anja further shares the three strategic pillars of PMI's Youth Strategy:

  1. Educational Foundation
  2. Academics and Credentialling
  3. Closing the Skill Gap

PART 4 - The Importance of Mentoring

Anja and Kenneth explore the importance of mentorship and the importance it has played in their careers. Anja shares the key role mentorship plays both in communities which PMI serves as well as internal stakeholders. She also offers a look in the future in which mentorship is facilitated by a platform PMI is developing. Kenneth and Sunil discuss the mentorship programs available in the government, with a special focus on organically developed mentor/mentee relationships. (4:33)

Part 5 - Overcoming challenges and conventional thinking

Kenneth and Anja share their strategies for overcoming challenges. Kenneth is working on some of the most advanced projects and missions in the world, and has tactics he explains which have helped him thrive in the spotlight. Anja explains how to break out of outdated ways of thinking. (6:58)