Sus­tain­able teams start with empow­ered project leads

Rachel Gertz is a Co-founder and Direc­tor of Deliv­ery and Growth at Loud­er Than Ten. She helps small to medi­um sized dig­i­tal agen­cies trans­form their dig­i­tal PM oper­a­tions through hands-on train­ing and con­sult­ing. Rachel helps own­ers, direc­tors, project lead­ers, and deliv­ery teams align their strate­gic approach to projects so they can ful­fill their role in gen­er­at­ing rev­enue and cut­ting down expens­es to cre­ate health­i­er, hap­pi­er, long last­ing teams — through a peo­ple first lens. Her mis­sion at Loud­er Than Ten is to pro­pel tech work­ers through an uncer­tain future by train­ing dig­i­tal com­pa­nies how to give pow­er to the peo­ple lead­ing their projects.

A lit­tle background

I’m a trained teacher with a Psych and Com­mu­ni­ty Health back­ground and teach folks who run dig­i­tal stu­dios and cre­ative depart­ments in the US, Cana­da, and over­seas through Loud­er Than Ten. I con­sult for, coach, and train own­ers, direc­tors, dig­i­tal project man­agers, account man­agers, pro­duc­ers, and their deliv­ery teams how to think crit­i­cal­ly and strate­gi­cal­ly about their project sys­tems so they can sup­port prof­itable out­comes and healthy oper­a­tions. I focus on teach­ing ways for them to reset and man­age stake­hold­er expec­ta­tions, while offer­ing a sim­ple frame­work for bet­ter esti­mat­ing, scop­ing, and fore­cast­ing work­flows — they enjoy real-time learn­ing while they work. 

Speak­ing and training

In addi­tion to design­ing and run­ning our pro­grams, I also speak and do work­shops at local and inter­na­tion­al events, I sup­port the Van­cou­ver DPM meet­up and DPM Slack group. My love of learn­ing and uncon­ven­tion­al approach is root­ed in my English/Education degree, my pas­sion for sys­tems think­ing and prob­lem-based learn­ing, trau­ma informed heal­ing, and sev­er­al years of pro­gram man­age­ment expe­ri­ence work­ing with both kids and adults in lit­er­a­cy, health­care, and sui­cide prevention. 

Where to find me

If you look for me, I’ll be teach­ing, flex­ing my writ­ing fin­gers for our dig­i­tal mag­a­zine, Coax, speak­ing (or rant­i­ng) about sus­tain­able process­es while uphold­ing our wicked team. I’m thrilled that I get to wake up, shuf­fle to work, and help my team build pro­grams that pro­mote empa­thy, encour­age inclu­siv­i­ty, close the skills gap, and pre­pare peo­ple for the changes that will come with job automa­tion and (hope­ful­ly) a more demo­c­ra­t­ic society.

Help­ing projects and people

I’ve been train­ing project leads, free­lancers, and com­pa­nies while pro­vid­ing work­shops in project man­age­ment, process, and dig­i­tal strat­e­gy since 2012. Before that, I was a remote and in-house dig­i­tal PM and busi­ness devel­op­er for sev­er­al bou­tique agen­cies in Cana­da and the US includ­ing our own stu­dio since good old 2009. I’ve also been writ­ing con­tent since I had fin­gers and a spinal cord. Con­tent strat­e­gy and UX anchors every­thing I do. I’ve also got a love for and appre­ci­a­tion for oper­a­tions and finan­cials — espe­cial­ly teach­ing appren­tices how their orga­ni­za­tions make and lose mon­ey so they can sup­port their prof­itabil­i­ty and sus­tain­abil­i­ty. I believe that project man­age­ment is a skill as much as it is a role. Every­one ben­e­fits from learn­ing the ropes. 

We believe in an eth­i­cal tech­no­log­i­cal future

Fun­da­men­tal­ly, we believe that soft­ware can solve incred­i­bly big and com­plex prob­lems, but in order to do that, high­ly intu­itive, adap­tive lead­ers need to run those teams so they can stay focused on build­ing things our world actu­al­ly needs. Good process­es ele­vate our indus­try and good peo­ple enable us to solve prob­lems that mat­ter. We need more of both.

We sup­port community

We see a dig­i­tal com­mu­ni­ty that is get­ting stronger and are doing what­ev­er it takes to decrease silos and bar­ri­ers for peo­ple who are inter­est­ed in doing cre­ative work togeth­er. This means sup­port­ing a diverse com­mu­ni­ty of dig­i­tal project leads and their teams and encour­ag­ing every­one to embrace con­tin­u­ous improve­ment. We also aim to help fix the intense short­age of project and prod­uct man­agers as indus­tries are thrown side­ways by tech­no­log­i­cal advance­ment. We believe that project leads are the lynch­pins in this indus­try: they have the pow­er to shape their orga­ni­za­tions and help them thrive. Now, we have to con­nect these com­mu­ni­ties around the world and start reshap­ing the tech industry.

Bot­tom line

Peo­ple who man­age process and projects need love and sup­port. They’re cre­ative thinkers, they’re adept, they’re com­plex prob­lem solvers. They’re love­able hardass­es who cham­pi­on their teams. And for that rea­son and all of the above, we will spend our lives sup­port­ing, cel­e­brat­ing, and uphold­ing them. 

Speak­ing events

  • Stake­hold­er Man­age­ment: Build­ing your Work BICEPS | Aten Design Webinar
  • DPM Sum­mit, Mem­phis (Keynote)
  • Ground Con­trol, London
  • Design & Con­tent Con­fer­ence, Vancouver
  • Van­cou­ver Design Week, Vancouver
  • DPM Sum­mit, Philly
  • DPM Sum­mit, Austin
  • Trade School, Vancouver
  • Pecha Kucha, Calgary

Recent work­shops

  • Dark His­to­ry of PM, Vanci­ty DPM Meetup
  • Met­rics that mat­ter, Vanci­ty DPM Meetup
  • Sta­t­ic vs sig­nal, Dotall, Montréal 
  • Bridg­ing the Gap Between Sales and Project Man­age­ment, Kick­ass PM
  • Words & pix­els, Vancouver
  • Soap! Krakow
  • Giant Con­fer­ence, Charleston
  • Every Day DPM work­shop, Vancouver
  • Bureau of Dig­i­tal; DPM Sum­mit, Philly