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Carl Schwab works for Navy Federal Credit Union, the largest credit union in the world, with over 4 million members and $54 billion in assets. He heads an eight-person project management office for the credit union’s 2,000+ employee contact center, which handles most phone and email communication to and from members.
Not surprisingly, Schwab’s team is constantly in motion. Combine an institution of this size and complexity with the need to apply the latest innovations in banking technology, provide outstanding member service, meet ever higher security standards, and satisfy increasingly rigorous government regulators and the need for expert project management is self-evident. “At any moment,” Schwab reports, “we have dozens of complicated projects under way.”
Schwab credits his ability to lead his team confidently, in part, to the knowledge he gained by earning a Certificate in Project Management from UVA. The 24-credit graduate PM certificate (consisting of five core courses and three electives) focuses on the key competencies recognized by the Project Management Institute (PMI). It covers every aspect of project management from scheduling, cost control, and risk management to specialized topics like IT systems or construction project management. And for Schwab, it proved to be excellent preparation for the Project Manager Professional (PMP)® exam, which he passed in 2012.
Schwab graduated from UVA in 2003 with a degree in politics, so he naturally gravitated to the UVA certificate program. The ability to take the program online, pay in-state tuition, and proceed at his own pace clinched his decision. “The classes required a good deal of reading,” he says, “but because the program was organized asynchronously, you could always find time in your schedule to complete them.” Schwab also has praise for the logical progression of classes and the responsiveness of the faculty.
Perhaps the best testimony to the effectiveness of the program is Schwab’s career path. When he started, he was a business operations analyst. A year before he completed the certificate program, he was promoted to his present position—and now that he has his PMP designation, he feels he has credibility in the organization he would not have had without the program. “All in all,” he says, “it was an excellent choice.”