How Did I Get Here? A Career Profile of Lee Lepkowski, PMP

Welcome to Lee Lepkowski!

Lee is the latest in our series “How Did I Get Here?” Lee is relatively new to the Denver area and hoping to get more involved in the Project Management community here.

Here’s his story.

When did you first decide to become a project manager?

It was an evolution.  When working for small software consulting firms, with virtually no budget or resources for project management tools or training, we frequently faced budget overages, schedule overruns, and scope issues.  This challenged our customers as well so I worked with other team members to create PM processes, tools and structure, eventually taking the lead as project manager.  Recently I pursued PMP certification because I had been performing many other IT and business roles in addition to my project management work in IT and residential construction.  My desire to bring focus to my career development led me to PMP certification.

What was your academic and/or corporate background before you became a project manager?

Prior to graduating college, my experience was in construction, plumbing, electrical, electronics manufacturing, automotive, and appliance repair.  When I earned my Bachelor degree in Computer Science I had no job experience in information technology and worked at a relay manufacturing plant where I quickly worked my way up to Production Planner and helped with programming tasks wherever I could find them.  After a few years, I was working for small consulting firms as a software developer and my experience grew from there as I took on many roles and responsibilities including project management.

If you made a transition, did your company support your transition to project manager?

My company welcomed my taking the lead and the resulting predictability and increased revenue from my project management efforts.  I pursued formal training on my own and continued to develop our own tools for project and program management.

Which credential do you have?

I earned my PMP in November 2017

How has having your credential helped (or hurt?) your career?

Many of the jobs I am interested in require a PMP certification; I even found one non-PM IT position with PMP as a desired credential.   I agree with the Denver Metro Project Management Education Foundation’s (DMPMEF) statement that “…project management is not just a business skill, but a crucial life skill facilitating success in the 21st Century.”  My recent PMP education and certification has already proven useful in bringing credibility to my experience, as evidenced by increased confidence communicating and in others’ acceptance of my recommendations.  I’d like to thank the PMI Mile Hi Chapter and my classmates for the excellent education.

What advice would you give an aspiring project manager?

Definitely plan on PMP certification.  I recommend taking a PMP exam preparation class, or boot camp, once you have the prerequisite project management experience.  The class offered by PMI Mile Hi Chapter was excellent.  If you don’t know where to start then talk with PMI members and join a local chapter.  Work in an environment that is supportive of project management principles and take on whatever PM responsibilities you can.  Find a mentor or mentors and educational resources  – your PMI community and LinkedIn can be a great help there.  Whatever your skill level, continually find your lowest strength and work to improve it.

Any final advice?

As a PM be an informed voice of reason, not a ‘yes’ person when responding to requests and demands of stakeholders.  Your ability to do this contributes directly to building and maintaining the supportive environment required for successful project management.  In these environments, I find it very interesting and rewarding to solve complex problems through project management and help all achieve our goals.

Lee Lepkowski moved to the Denver area in 2017 after several years of telecommuting, affording his wife the opportunity to relocate as her career required.  Now he and his wife are considering making Denver home.  Lee enjoys hiking, gardening, inventing, and repairs of all sorts, great food, reading, and golf among other things.  Known for his ingenuity and ability to distill complex ideas into simple expression, he has been developing software and managing IT projects for many years.  Contact him via LinkedIn and mention this article.

If you would like your story here, please contact me.