Although none of Hillsdale’s three teams was a finalist in the Collegiate Project Management Competition held by the West Michigan Project Management Institute on April 9, one of the teams was awarded “best improved” and the other was recognized for its strong interpersonal presentation.
The teams each developed a project-management style response to the prompt for this year’s competition, which involved finding ways to reduce food waste in Michigan. Over the course of the semester, each team developed an educational approach to reducing food waste, then planned out an intricate strategy for implementing their project.
Hillsdale’s three teams competed against five other teams from other Michigan colleges. In the development of their projects, each team had help from an outside mentor and Associate Professor of Management Douglas Johnson.
One Hillsdale team developed a hypothetical campaign with Gerber to work with young families in reducing food waste. Another group developed a system for partnering with retailers to sell fruits and vegetables with cosmetic imperfections that might otherwise go to waste. The third group developed a system that would allow food that could no longer be sold in stores due to regulations to be brought to food pantries instead of thrown away.
After developing a project to decrease food waste, each team developed a work breakdown structure for their project and outlined every task that needed to be completed and who was responsible for it. They did this as a part of their project management class, which will be offered again next spring, Johnson said. Johnson added that in the past five years that Hillsdale has participated, this is the first year Hillsdale has not won the competition or placed as a finalist.
“People are catching up with us,” Johnson said. “There’s more similarity between the type of work that other schools are doing relative to us. I hate to pat ourselves on the back, but I think that’s part of what’s happening. There were also two other teams with MBA students that ended up placing first and second.”
Although none of the Hillsdale teams were finalists, junior Josh Bailey said he enjoyed the process of putting together a solution in coordination with the other members on his team.
“In regard to our preparation for and performance at the competition, I am proud of my team,” Bailey said in an email. “I think we came together very well and presented a fine project plan. Everyone stepped up and did great work, so I was not disappointed with our performance.”
Senior Andrea Wallace said the experience was helpful for developing project management skills that she could use later on in her career.
“I plan to do some nonprofit administration in the future, and I think one thing you frequently see in nonprofits is a weak management, so I was excited to grow that skill,” Wallace said. “Something I’ve learned about project management is that everyone can use it, from doctors to artists, and even conservationists.”