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Transferring project management skills from private sector to the public sector

"It has been the most amazing opportunity of my career." - Samuel John

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Samuel John, capitalizing on his private sector experience to help his home state

There are many reasons people might want to work in Massachusetts government. For Samuel John (Sam), it was a desire to move back to where he was born and raised, and lead important projects that would benefit his home state. Sam began his career in the private sector in sales with Fortune 500 companies. When an opportunity with The Commonwealth presented itself, he was eager to take it, but unsure if the skills he nurtured in the private sector would translate. "I remember wondering, 'How do I go from sales to project management?'" he said.

Samuel's first major project for Massachusetts was working on IT deployments for Boston Public Schools, switching their phone carrier and updating networks and related devices. His time in the private sector made him an expert on the products our public schools were using, as well as about what project management styles are successful and which are not.

Samuel John, Director of Application Operations, DOT
Samuel John, Director of Application Operations, DOT

Later Sam contracted with the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV), preparing the organization for a move to Atlas, a new application expected to increase efficiency and customer satisfaction. Atlas enabled the citizens of The Commonwealth to access services online. Additionally he directly influenced a significant reduction in RMV wait times by building a cutting edge queuing platform. The result was that the organization finally met the governor's expectation that 80% Massachusetts' RMV visitors experience a wait time no longer than an hour.

Now, working with the Department of Transportation (DOT) full time, Sam and his team focus on managing the health of the DOT's many applications, which support the RMV, Mass Highway, and other divisions. "We get to build new systems and products from scratch, based upon what's in my head," he said. The perspective he developed in the private sector keeps him and his team motivated, clarifies expectations, and moves complex projects forward. It's hard work, but Samuel is up for it. "I just want to give the state its money's worth," he frequently says.

Blazing new trails and re-imagining how state government delivers services comes with challenges. However, everyone keeps the ultimate goal in focus, which at the DOT is getting people where they need to go. "It's a different type of stress than in the private sector," Sam said. His team is building, implementing, and supporting products and applications few governments have used prior.

"Everything is new. You have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable." - Sam

From the variety and significance of the projects he benefited from working on, to the level of exposure he gained in a short amount of time, Samuel John is sure of one thing; "It has been the most amazing opportunity of my career.

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