Jennifer is the Content & Communications Manager for MATRIX. Her mission is to understand what information our communities want and need from MATRIX, and to deliver it in ways that are enlightening, engaging and in sync with who we are as a company. She loves pop culture, Oklahoma football, and the great state of Texas.
MATRIX Consultant Spotlight: Tom Favorite
Our latest consultant spotlight is on Tom Favorite, a Project Manager working for one of our large bank accounts in the Dallas metroplex. Read how Tom started doing project management at 12 years old and how his passions in life carry over to his work today.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m an Air Force brat, so my childhood was an adventure. I can say that I have spent at least one night in all 50 states. I went to 14 different schools K-12 before graduating in the Dallas area, and I’ve pretty much been here ever since. I was an athletic trainer in school and dreamed of being an orthopedic surgeon one day. I joined the Air Force as an orthopedic surgical technician and eventually decided that career path wasn’t right for me. Many of my friends at the time worked in IT and I enjoyed playing computer games, so that’s what led me to start building my own PCs and learn basic networking. I started my IT career working with wide area networks and moved on to wireless and satellite, and did all the infrastructure in between. I’ve done project management ever since.
What do you like about being a Project Manager?
I consider myself to be a technical project manager. I don’t know enough to be an engineer, but I know enough that my engineers can’t pull the wool over my head. Project management fits who I am. I’ve been organizing and putting things together since I was a kid. When I was 12, I organized a flag football league. Our town was split by a major highway so I coordinated the routes, buses, games, etc. I put together the teams and worked with parents to make sure their kids were where they needed to be. I managed the watering and maintenance of the field, and my field was selected for the regional little league championships – and this was all before I was 13. All that to say, project management is second nature to me; it’s who I am.
What’s different about today’s market vs. 30 years ago?
More and more companies prefer to use contract labor today than they did early on. More and more companies are also less likely to empower their employees than they were before. These two go hand in hand; people stay for shorter periods, which leads to less time to develop trust and less empowerment.
What’s your favorite project you’ve ever worked on?
My very first wide area network project with EDS. I was given a project that they thought was just some cleanup work. After we dug in, we discovered many of the circuits we were working on were actually going to a data center. We ended up having to migrate circuits for an entire data center. I had to learn quickly and got the opportunity to work on cutting-edge technology. We started several months late and delivered two months early. The new experience, the not knowing what I was getting myself into – it was exciting. Plus, management allowed me to manage the project the way I felt it had the best chance of succeeding.
What’s the most challenging and rewarding part of what you do?
The most rewarding part is that it fits my personality and it’s what I like to do. Not many people get to have a good fit for who they are. The most challenging part is the lack of empowerment you get at some organizations – that to me is frustrating. I work better when I’m given something and left alone to go off and deliver as opposed to having someone tell me how to do it. You spend more time dealing with politics than actually getting the project done in those cases.
What does your life look like outside work?
I’m a big animal lover - I have three orange tabbies and a Chihuahua, all rescues. Another big part of my life is running endurance distances. I just finished my second marathon in February and I’ll run my first ultra-marathon (50 kilometers) in May. But I’m most looking forward to the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC this fall. This race has high military involvement and something called the Blue Mile, which is a mile’s worth of small signs and tributes for those who have paid the sacrifice. It’s known for being an incredibly emotional race. You start at Arlington National Cemetery, cross the river, run along the National Mall, pass the Pentagon, and head back to the cemetery. I only started running a year and a half ago but I ran 1,129 miles last year.
Running marathons has not only been beneficial physically, it’s given me confidence that carries over to work as well. I’ve never really lacked confidence at work, but this experience has emphasized that there isn’t much you put your mind to that you can’t do. It’s taught me that in both work and in life, I can be tossed something that I don’t know much about and figure out how to pull it off successfully.
What’s your best piece of advice to others in your field?
Learn that nothing is personal. I could raise my voice and get upset about something, but then ask you to go get a beer the next moment. Just know that work is work, and don’t take things too personally.