Karl Kroening - Student Spotlight
1. What is your background (current position, industry, years of experience, etc.)?
I am presently a Project Engineer, in a test equipment department, for a major aerospace company. I have been with my current employer, and in the aerospace industry, for the past ten years. Prior to this I held multiple positions, over a twenty-eight year period, with a machine tool building company.
2. Why did you choose to complete the M.S. in Project and Program Management degree?
Pursuing a Masters in Project and Program Management was twofold… To gain the knowledge of proven PM practices, that I could use to advance my career, as well as the personal satisfaction of obtaining a master’s degree.
3. What are the primary reasons you chose to attend Brandeis University?
I chose Brandeis University based on the course offerings within the Project and Program Management degree. The courses within this program can be applied directly to the workplace and relate to real life work situations.
4. Why did you choose to complete the program online?
I was a bit reluctant venturing into an online program, since I hadn’t taken any online courses prior to this. In the end I choose an online program due to the flexibility it offered me, as I was able complete the coursework around my busy work schedule and personal life.
5. What was your program experience like (online experience, faculty, coursework, peers)?
Once I developed a routine, I knew what was needed to take the courses online. I found the faculty to be very knowledgeable in their areas of expertise and their comments and questions thought provoking within the weekly discussions. This promoted interaction between me and my peers. Even though I never met my instructors or my classmates, I felt that I knew them well due to our virtual interaction.
6. How are you currently applying what you learned from the program?
Although I was already working in the field of project management, I gained a deeper understanding of proper PM practices that I am able to apply to my present projects. This includes managing schedules, budgets and scope, as well as risk assessment and effective communication with my peers, stakeholders and customers.
7. How will your M.S. PPM degree assist you in the future?
One year after completing the degree and it has already had an impact on my career, by creating new opportunities. My experience, coupled with this degree, has led to me becoming project engineering discipline lead within our department, which has six PEs in total. In addition, I was recently asked to mentor project leads in another facility, who presently lack PM experience.
8. What did you take away from Brandeis’ online M.S. PPM?
In addition to good fundamental PM practices, I’ve learned to keep human factors at the forefront when managing projects. It’s important to remember that people are carrying out the tasks that make projects successful and that communication, ethical behavior, trust, and building relationships are all critical to this success.
9. Would you recommend the program to someone else? If so, how would you describe your experience in a few words?
Yes, I would. This degree was exactly what I was looking for with regard to curriculum that supports my field of PM, offering flexibility via online courses, all taught by experienced professors and experts in their field. As with any degree… You get out of it what you put into it, and this degree is worth putting forth the effort.