In This Episode:
In this episode, I interviewed Angela Thurman, a project management consultant from the Houston Texas area. With a background in aerospace, telecommunications, and Bridal consulting! Angela's company helps with process and product improvements and consultants on supplier and contract management.
Did You Know:
Houston, project management, project managers, supplier, pandemic, LinkedIn, facilities, learning, project management skills, otter.ai, business, aerospace
Angela Thurman, Walt Sparling
Angela Thurman 00:12
Welcome to the pm-mastery podcast. This podcast is all about helping you master your project management skills by sharing tips, tricks, tools, and training to get you to the next level while sharing the stories of other project managers on their journey in project management. And now here's your host, Walt Sparling.
Walt Sparling 00:35
Welcome, everyone to the current episode of pm-mastery. Today, our guest is Angela Thurman, who is a project management consultant. And she is from Houston, Texas. Welcome to the show, Angela.
Angela Thurman 00:48
Thank you, Walt. Thank you for having me.
Walt Sparling 00:51
So first off, I know we had a little bit of conversation upfront, but I want to let everybody know more about you. So if you could tell us a little bit about who you are, where you're from, and then we'll get into your work in a little bit.
Angela Thurman 01:05
Okay, great. Thank you. Well, I'm a native of Northwest Arkansas, and currently a resident of Houston, Texas. And I live and work with my two little boys, Shawn free, say dogs, puppy, and bed bet. And they are my constant companions. I am a certified PMP, a degreed electrical engineer with a background in aerospace and telecommunications. So for the last 10 years, I have worked for a major US aerospace company, managing suppliers that provide complex parts that are integrated then into larger systems sold to all of the global aircraft OEMs, like Boeing, Airbus bombard EA, and so forth. I'm a subject matter expert in supply chain and process improvement.
Walt Sparling 01:59
Are you six sigma,
Angela Thurman 02:00
I have completed my six sigma training, but I've not yet taken the exam. So I'm not a green belt or anything yet.
Walt Sparling 02:09
All right. Good deal.
Angela Thurman 02:10
I was certified by my former company as a lean master. So that was kind of their designation for process improvement.
Walt Sparling 02:23
Okay. I'm always been a fan of Kaizen.
Angela Thurman 02:28
Walt Sparling 02:28
And then, of course, six sigma and five-Y, there are so many systems out there? Better?
Angela Thurman 02:34
Walt Sparling 02:38
Yeah, there's one for tools where they go in a certain spot, they need to go back to that spot.
Angela Thurman 02:44
Walt Sparling 02:44
Yes, Five-S I said, five-Ys, that's a whole different thing.
Angela Thurman 02:47
Five-Ys is different. But yeah, we still use that tool. Alright, so
Walt Sparling 02:51
now that we know a little bit about your history there in the background, what is it that you do now?
Angela Thurman 02:58
So I recently launched my own project contract and supplier management company, Thurman, co LLC, in the Greater Houston area, where I hold the title of principal Managing Director. And my company is small but growing, and through the addition of work consultants to the staff, I am always looking for good project managers who can add value to our team.
Walt Sparling 03:21
Alright, so just starting out project management. Now. I'm curious, how did you because as I said earlier, I know someone else who just did a similar path. What made you go from working for the corporate world into starting your own?
Angela Thurman 03:37
Well, I've always been something of an entrepreneur. Several years ago, I took a break from technology. And actually, for about six years, I, when I was living in Kansas City, I applied my project management skills to bridal consulting, so I owned a bridal consulting business in Kansas City. And that was a lot of fun, but I eventually needed to get back to my core in technology. And yes?
Walt Sparling 04:12
No, I was gonna say that makes sense.
Angela Thurman 04:13
Yes. but most recently, I've been working for this aerospace company, like I said, for more than 10 years. And with the pandemic, the airline industry as a whole had taken a deep dive. And I think like a lot of people I found myself without a job. So I decided, I'm just gonna launch my own business. And so I did.
Walt Sparling 04:43
And here you are.
Angela Thurman 04:44
And here I am.
Walt Sparling 04:46
Yeah, so it's interesting. A lot of people made changes during the pandemic, career-wise, personal-wise. For me, starting this podcast was about six to about six months into the pandemic, it was on a road trip with my wife trying to get out of town after being isolated for so long. And I had this brainstorm. And here we are, yeah, the pandemic?
Angela Thurman 05:11
Walt Sparling 05:12
Now we kind of know you went back to technology back to your core, what is it, you started the company, but what is it that drives you to do this on a one, what gets you up in the morning?
Angela Thurman 05:24
Well, I love project management and helping others implement improvements to their products, their processes, and their services. And I just enjoy finding better ways to do things. For me, it's like solving a riddle or puzzle. And I like being able to pass along those lessons that I've learned in my 30 years as a project or a program manager. And I just find it very fulfilling to mentor others, and to help them find fulfillment and help them develop their careers.
Walt Sparling 06:04
That's, that's awesome. But growing others is, is big. And I enjoyed that as well. Lessons learned is another big topic in product project management, that's how we get better. So it is, so obviously, you've learned a lot you share a lot. But do you consider yourself kind of a continual or constant learner?
Angela Thurman 06:28
Oh, absolutely. I am a member of the Project Management Institute, and the Houston chapter is very active. It's one of the largest if not the largest in the country. And so there are always events that are offered, and new ideas and ways of doing things. And we always have a ton of events that as a PMI member, I can attend for free. A lot of these are personal development, types of events that offer me a lot of new ways of doing things improvements on the ways I've done them in the past. But I also make a lot of use of my LinkedIn membership and LinkedIn learning on a regular basis. So I take advantage of that info. And many of the many, many of the courses that are available on specific topics that are of interest to me. So earlier this year, I completed a course on becoming a Six Sigma Black Belt, which refreshed my earlier training on statistics, and lean electronics. And it also helped prepare me to take that Six Sigma Black Belt exam, hopefully, sooner rather than later.
Walt Sparling 07:59
Cool, LinkedIn, LinkedIn is great. And if you have for those of you that have LinkedIn, if you have the premium level, you get LinkedIn learning. And it's, I know, I'd miss quoted this in the past, but it's like $29 a month for the premium level. And they have tons of courses.
Angela Thurman 08:19
And they often make some of their courses available to the public for free. And there's, there's a continually changing catalog of courses that they do make free, available for free.
Walt Sparling 08:34
Okay, that's good. And it's the kind of the history of that. So linked, LinkedIn learning was what used to be...
Angela Thurman 08:46
Walt Sparling 08:47
Exactly. And I was a lynda.com customer for many years. And then they went to LinkedIn. Fortunately, the company I work for is very large, and they actually include LinkedIn learning as part of our job benefits.
Angela Thurman 09:05
Walt Sparling 09:06
So we get into it without having to have the premium membership. The other one that comes up a lot is you to me, have you ever?
Angela Thurman 09:16
Walt Sparling 09:19
Yeah, if you want to keep up with stuff, LinkedIn learning and Udemy are awesome. There are a lot of other platforms out there. But those are probably they're definitely the two that I use the most. But they come up over and over again is what other people like as well.
Angela Thurman 09:35
I think that if you have that interest, and you're a lifetime learner, there's an amazing amount of resources that are available.
Walt Sparling 09:46
Oh, yeah, we're not even talking about YouTube.
Angela Thurman 09:49
Walt Sparling 09:52
Yeah, crazy stuff. So with all these twists and turns and things you do, and your new business, what kind of challenges are you facing?
Angela Thurman 10:05
Oh, so because I have just launched my new consulting business, my biggest challenge is just not spreading myself too thin. There are just so many opportunities available. And, and I only have so many hours in a day. And I recently hired a virtual assistant to help me with just the day-to-day operations of my company. And she has been the best hire I've made to date. This allows me just to focus on the actual doing, that makes my clients happy, while my assistant takes care of all of the tasks that must be done to ensure that the company functions behind the scenes. And I just love the ability to delegate those necessary tasks that have to be done by someone. And it really frees me up to pay attention to my clients.
Walt Sparling 11:08
And that would be Robin, right?
Angela Thurman 11:10
That would be Robin. Yes.
Walt Sparling 11:12
So I have communicated with Robin.
Angela Thurman 11:16
Walt Sparling 11:18
All right. So the virtual system is awesome. Yes, I use, I kind of use Fiverr as my virtual assistant. I do a lot of different things. And there are people on there that anything you can think of, they've got someone on there, including virtual assistants, although that's not what I've used it for. I've used it for task-oriented stuff. So great. And that to me would be a tool, which makes me ask, what are some of the tools that you use? And what are your favorites?
Angela Thurman 11:51
Oh, there are so many I there's, well as a project manager, of course, I love Microsoft Project. That's, you know, probably a standby, standard answer. But the team at Thurman Co. right now is loving this product called air table. Actually, a client introduced me to this product. And it, it's free. To a certain extent, I mean, at some point, you do eventually get to the level where you need to make a purchase to open up all of its capabilities. But it has so much that is available to you for free. It's really, really robust. And it allows us to enter information that's related to a project into a database so that we can collaborate. And each person can choose to view this information formatted in the view that they prefer. So it could be a Gantt chart, it could be a spreadsheet, it could be Khan bond, it could be a calendar, whatever. So if I want to see the information that's collected in this database, in a Gantt chart view, I pick get Gantt chart, if Robin wants to see it in a calendar view, she chooses calendar, if our new consultant wants to see it in a spreadsheet, she chooses a spreadsheet, and it happens instantly. From the same database, it's just amazing. And it's just really, really powerful.
Walt Sparling 13:46
Angela Thurman 13:48
Walt Sparling 13:48
No, I was gonna say there are a couple of popular apps out there for project managers one is Trello. The other is I can't think of the name of it at the moment. But these two are kind of the lead-in I was introduced to Air Table a few months back. And after using these other ones for a while. I was like that this one is so much better, more powerful. It's it gives you the flexibility to almost write your own program.
Angela Thurman 14:18
Yes. In fact, you can actually upload a Trello board into Air table.
Walt Sparling 14:25
Mm-hmm. Yeah, I like Air table. I think if I were to go forward with the apps that I'm using now I would definitely transition them to Air table. It's pretty powerful.
Angela Thurman 14:39
And then I'm because I've worked remotely for more than five years, and I've worked with a large number of different collaboration tools. WebEx, Google teams, zoom, Slack, and now many new ones are coming out. All of them are great. But I would say, by default, I use Zoom for, for my virtual meetings, recordings. And I and I highly recommend recording the meetings just for note-taking purposes. And that's been a great adaptation I've made recently too.
Walt Sparling 15:21
Are you using Open AI?
Angela Thurman 15:25
Walt Sparling 15:26
I am sorry, not Open AI - Otter AI.
Angela Thurman 15:28
Otter, yes. In fact, I was going to ask you about getting a word cloud for this podcast. So what I'm making one,
Walt Sparling 15:37
What I do at the end of every episode is I pull them into Audacity, I edit it, add the mix, and then I upload it to Otter, for translation. And then I go through and edit that. And that becomes the transcript. So every podcast has both the audio and it has a text version that people can read if they want.
Angela Thurman 16:00
Yeah, so Otter is a great tool.
Walt Sparling 16:03
And I, the reason I brought that up is I use it on a standalone, but zoom just recently came out where you can actually tie otter into Zoom and record. So if you're doing your virtual meetings, now you have a transcript service built-in with the otter interface.
Angela Thurman 16:21
Yeah, that's great. That's really great.
Walt Sparling 16:25
All right, we talked a little bit earlier, you have you do more than project management, you offer consulting, and I believe supply chain management and supplier assessments. risk reduction. Do you want to talk a little bit about those?
Angela Thurman 16:45
Sure, sure. So one of my areas of expertise is supplier capability and capacity assessments. And this specifically looks at risk reduction in the supply chain. So the service that we offer is to work with a company to either evaluate their own internal processes, or this can be used to examine their suppliers. So we evaluate a number a large number of specific areas and identify the risks associated in those areas. So this could be your facilities. So we could look at something for example, like, how frequently and when was the last time the fire extinguishers were checked? So do you have a documented process to validate that you are checking the fire extinguishers in your facilities? At or to maintain your HVAC system, or, you know, whatever else, it may be in your facilities. And that's just one type of example. And we go through, you know, 15 to 20 different areas of risk, depending on the type of business that you have. And we let the client or the supplier, depending on who's participating, conduct a self-evaluation, and then, we evaluate them as well. And depending on the evidence that they provide, to support their answers to their responses to particular questions, we give them a score. And if there's an area that needs improvement, we'll then we'll make suggestions. And the output of this then is not only a score but an action item register on how they can get better.
Walt Sparling 19:19
Okay. Yeah, I work with a company we do project management, but we have a facilities group as well that does facilities management, and the PMS that they track for just like you're saying HVAC maintenance. Fire Extinguisher certification to make sure that they're all up to date, fire alarm, check so many different things that have to be done in a facility. Yeah, and for some people, they know they get into owning a building or running a building and then they're like, Oh, I didn't even know we had to do all this stuff.
Angela Thurman 19:54
Right? And facilities is just one small area. I mean, we're gonna look at things Like, your financials and your business plan? And, you know, depending on if you know, are you a manufacturer? You're your actual manufacturing? So do you have contaminated or out-of-date chemicals on your benches? Do you have a lean manufacturing process? How are your incoming materials brought into the building and stored? And, you know, on and on and on? Because like I said, it's a lot of different areas. What are your own internal quality controls? and so forth?
Walt Sparling 20:43
Yeah, there are so many things for running a business, especially a service type business where you have, you have equipment, and you have vehicles and in the people themselves, you know, people certified or you keep, are they keeping up with their certifications or training? Right?
Angela Thurman 20:58
Where are the records that you've documented that each person has, has maintained those annual health and safety training?
Walt Sparling 21:11
Right. Yeah, that's a key item. All right. So good stuff there. Now the fun part. The Did You Know, and as you know, every episode ends in a Did You Know, so I'm hoping you have a good Did you know that you can share with the audience? I'd be
Angela Thurman 21:32
happy to. So as you know, I live in Houston. And the residents of Houston eat out more times per week than in any other city in America. It could possibly be because Houston is also so ethnically diverse, and has such a wide range of culinary options available at great prices. And did you also know that Houston is currently ranked as the fourth most populous, US city, with over 145 languages being spoken here? It is an amazing place to live and work.
Walt Sparling 22:18
Well. Houston should hire you as their ambassador. Great stuff. I've been to Houston many times, but I did not realize those specific statistics. That's, that's good stuff.
Angela Thurman 22:33
And I'm very happy to be in Houston. Yeah, it seems
Walt Sparling 22:37
Like a really nice town. It's a no, the last couple of years, it's been a little tough with the weather. We've had some pretty severe systems come through there with the flooding. I mentioned earlier, my best friend lives out there. And I got to see some of the aftermaths of that when I went to visit it's it's crazy, but it's a cool town for sure.
Angela Thurman 23:00
It is the winters really nice usually.
Walt Sparling 23:04
Oh, that's good. Well, except for those occasional big freezes.
Angela Thurman 23:08
It was occasional Yes.
Walt Sparling 23:10
Well, I appreciate you coming on. And I'm thinking now that you're just starting out with this, I'm going to have to set a reminder to check back with you in about a year and see how things are going with the business.
Angela Thurman 23:22
I would love that.
Walt Sparling 23:23
Thank you. All right, well, I'm gonna let you get on with your day. And I'm sure you have lots to do. Thank you for dedicating this time. And for everyone else. We'll see you on the next episode of PM-Mastery.
Thanks for listening to the pm-mastery. podcast @ www.pm-mastery.com Be sure to subscribe in your podcast player. Until next time, keep working on your craft.