The Best Project Manager I Ever Saw Is …

This past weekend, I was watching “the Right Stuff” and smiled at the part when a reporter is asking Astronaut Gordon “Gordo” Cooper who was the best pilot he ever saw.  Although his normal answer was “You’re looking at him”, this time he paused and thought about Chuck Yeager testing fighter places out at Edwards Air Force Base. This scene got me thinking about who is the best project manager I ever saw? While I am very tempted to do a Gordo response, I will answer my own question in this post.

Who is the best project manager I ever saw?  Who was able to navigate a project team and a set of stakeholders that demanded excellence and grace every step of the way?  Who was always there with the right level of detail or the strategic view that the customer needed? Who inspired confidence in project success by their own confidence at work every day?  I have a name in mind for the top of my list – Ginger Sanchez.

Now, I have worked for and with many great project managers these past 30 years or so.  Ginger pops to the top of my list today because she is proving yet again that excellence and grace can come together quite nicely in the same person.  Ginger isn’t managing projects these days.  Instead, she is managing a disease that has taken her mobility from her, piece by piece: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. ALS is a disease of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement.  ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

This disease is more demanding than any project team or stakeholder.  It requires confidence, patience and flexibility every day and every night.  Ginger, as usual, has risen to the challenge of this new project and is dealing with the disease and its demands just like she dealt with her project teams – with research, subject matter expertise, grace, planning, common sense and overwhelming confidence and optimism.  Keep up the good work, Miss Ginger!  All of your teams, friends and stakeholders are rooting for you.

There is a walk for ALS in Denver at 0900 at City Park on October 8th, 2011.  If you have the time, please join Ginger’s Go Getter’s team, bring your dog and help us raise money to discover and defeat ALS.  This event is sponsored by the ALS Association of Colorado, a truly great bunch of folks.  

Ginger, you are at the top of my list for project management excellence!  Your grace and performance leading the team and living your life is an example for all of us to follow.

Susan Weese

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