Recently I have been reading about young women who are breaking through the glass ceiling that has been thought to have been in place in corporate culture. In particular, I have been following the progress of a company called Theranos, founded by Elizabeth Holmes. The formation of Theranos and its rapid success, are, in my opinion, excellent references for project management.
Theranos has been valued at $9 billion dollars, which occurred before Elizabeth Holmes turned 31. Ms. Holmes dropped out of Stanford, while working on her undergraduate chemical engineering degree. Since then, she has methodically developed patents in pharmacology and laboratory analysis. Additionally, she is changing the way individuals can access their health information, which has the potential to improve preventative care. Ms. Holmes appears to be incredibly driven and passionate about her work. I believe being passionate about your work is a key requirement to being successful as a project manager. Individuals who are passionate about their work are able to speak clearly and consisely about it and have a thorough understanding of the inner workings. In this example, Ms. Holmes and her colleagues were clearly powerful advocates for Theranos, as over $400 million was successfully raised during its evolution.
Under Ms. Holmes guidance, Theranos has overcome obstacles, including FDA testing regulations and legislation changes. Ms. Holmes has adapted to the company’s situation, while maintaining her focus on bringing Theranos to the general public. For instance, once she’d completed her patented work on blood analyzers, she registered the Theranos lab as a testing facility for pharmaceutical companies currently in clinical trials. Not only did this bring in revenue for Theranos, it began to build Theranos a reputation as a reputable testing facility. Coming up with creative ways to overcome hurdles while keeping an eye on the goal can be challenged, but is a crucial aspect of a successful project manager.
Ms. Holmes is also very thorough, signing up for additional, non-required, rounds of FDA testing and approvals for the newly created analyzers. This may have been decided following criticism from their competitors, regarding the level of secrecy maintained by Theranos. In this regard, Ms. Holmes is not only thorough, but is also addressing a hurdle in a dignified manner.
Lastly, as the organization grew and took on additional roles, more staff were added. Theranos has been set up with a clear organizational structure. As the daily operations expanded, Ms. Holmes made the wise decision to delegate some of her tasks, including project management. Project managers should be able to recognize when they’ve reached their limit and ask a reliable peer for assistance.
In conclusion, there are current role models of today that demonstrate how to use project management successfully. Additionally, the careers of these individuals can demonstrate how project management is used both during the start-up phase of an organization and as the company evolves.