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Guest Speaker Series: Alex Chui on Project Management Skills

February 12, 2021
UBC MEL MHLP - Guest Speaker 2021 - Alex

On February 3, Alex Chui, Project Manager at Vancouver Coastal Health, met with current MEL and MHLP students along with a few 2020 graduates to share insights on his career trajectory and current position.

A 2016 MHLP in Seniors Care graduate, Chui understands the current position of MHLP students and can offer a unique perspective on professional development and career goals.

Currently, Chui works as a Project Manager at Richmond Hospital as part of their Project Management Office and is involved in a variety of projects, including COVID-vaccination sites for health care staff and a staff team-culture project.

Transitioning from MHLP graduate to VCH project manager

After graduating with an MHLP in Seniors Care, Chui worked his way up through various project coordinator positions before stepping into his current leadership role as a project manager.

In his discussion with MHLP students, Chui provided an insider’s look at the world of health care project management in BC, in the hope that it would guide students towards understanding whether they should aspire towards a job in project management, or if a different role might be better suited for them.

What does it mean to be a project manager?

Cycles of change

If you dislike the monotony of repeating the same tasks in your job, project management might be a field worth considering. Projects are temporary; once complete, the project manager will move on to a new project. With every project comes different tasks, people, and goals. So, a project manager’s work is never static.

Leading innovation

Project managers are “change agents,” individuals responsible for initiating new projects and managing change within an organization.

Being a change maker requires that you have the following 7 key project management skills:

1. Leadership

2. Motivation

3. Communication

4. Organization

5. Prioritization

6. Problem solving

7. Adaptability

If you are interested in becoming a project manager, you should first acquire and hone these seven skills. Further, consider how your current experience relates to this skillset and how adept you are in these areas already. How can you acquire the experience needed to develop these skills further? Are there opportunities for you to take initiative in practicing these skills in your current workplace, and/or in a volunteer capacity?

Chui notes that one can acquire these skills from diverse backgrounds and experiences, even if it was not labelled “project management” experience.

For example, have you contributed to changes in clinical workflow? Have you analyzed clinical informatics? Have you led redevelopment initiatives?

Adopting a “project management lens”

As a central piece of advice for students interested in pursuing a career in project management, Chui advises viewing your current and past professional experiences through a “project management lens.”

When considering your professional history, frame your work according to the seven key project management skills.

Chui encourages students to be diligent in examining the experience they earn and apply it to any of those seven skills.

For example, ask yourself: when, in my work experience have I exhibited adaptability? Or excellent communication skills?

By better understanding your experiences as they apply to these skills, you will be better prepared to apply for jobs where their skills are at the forefront.

Many MHLP graduates look forward to a career in project management, as it uniquely synthesizes both their clinical skills and their business knowledge. In his discussion with the cohort of students, Alex Chui, as a graduate of the program himself, shared uniquely relevant tips and frameworks for students to adopt when preparing for a future in project management. He encouraged students to use their new business leadership skills in a way they might not have previously considered.

The student attendees left the webinar with a fresh perspective on project management and renewed motivation to explore their career options in that role.

Does creating positive change in the health care industry excite you? Explore UBC’s Master of Health Leadership & Policy in Seniors Care or Clinical Education, and how it prepares you to become a change agent.