Lifelong learner Johnnie Ross pursues his MSPM
For Johnnie Ross, finding new opportunities to learn and develop his skills has been integral to his successful career thus far.
Ross is a retired military veteran, serving 28 years in the United States Army. Today, he works as a technician principal for American Electric Power (AEP). As a lifelong learner in the military and in his current career, he was searching for and found the Master of Science in Project Management (MSPM) program at Ohio University.
In his current role with AEP, Ross has managed projects throughout the state of West Virginia. He has loved that there is a process and flow for effective project management, which relies on collaborative communication and stakeholder buy-in.
When he learned about OHIO’s MSPM through a lunch and learn session led by Neil Littell, associate professor and program director, he quickly applied for the program.
“I had reservations going into a master’s program. Speaking with Dr. Littell made me realize I do have a support stream. He said, “This is OHIO and here’s how we help students.’ The abundance of support made me feel comfortable in knowing this was the right choice that I made. I realize it even more, being a year into the program, that this is where I want to be,” said Ross.
It is this support system that has helped Ross balance the demands of his career alongside his coursework. As a technician principal, Ross is often called for emergency maintenance at unpredictable times, which can interrupt his coursework. The MSPM program is designed to be flexible, however, so industry professionals can continue pursue both career and education paths concurrently.
As Ross works his way through the MSPM program, he has found that the lessons learned in his project management classes are preparing him for his career on a regular basis. For example, he has learned about the lifecycle of a project. He has implemented regular project meetings, established communications with all the project stakeholders and conducted a mid-term planning meeting to check in on his team.
In his real-world project, he ensured that everyone involved knew what his intentions were, what the project was and how they can collaboratively work to complete it. When the project was finished, Ross found an opportunity to follow up with his team and identify lessons learned, so they can collectively improve as they prepare for their next project.
Outside of his career, Ross is married and has three adult daughters. His family is very supportive of his journey as a nontraditional student. Additionally, he has strong support from his managers at AEP as he pursues his degree. He hopes that future students can embrace their personal networks, too. Perhaps more importantly, he hopes that they believe in their own abilities to improve upon their skills.
“It is important for all students to know that they can do this. You have to be able to move forward and make that jump for yourself,” finished Ross.