A Conversation with Gary Slavit


If you’re in charge of a major project, you know the consequences of not staying on schedule and within budget.

Gary Slavit, an instructor at the College of Continuing Education (CCE) at Sacramento State and a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), says project management is a skill more employers are looking for these days.

Q: How did project management get to be so important?

Gary Slavit: With advancements in technology and the general business environment, whether it is private or public sector, there has been a major upsurge in urgency and quality requirements meaning there is great pressure to get things done faster, within budget, and right the first time in a constantly changing environment. Project objectives are moving targets and people are assigned multiple projects. Project management skills are essential in order to complete these projects successfully.

Q: How is project management used in different fields?  

Gary Slavit: That’s the beauty of good project management. The tools and methods are designed to be flexible, scalable, and universal so that regardless of whether the project is building a house, developing software, implementing a new government program, creating a manned spacecraft mission to Mars, or starting a business, the same project management framework will apply. Even small projects such as arranging a meeting, a small office move, or organizing an offsite workshop are all projects that benefit from using good project management techniques.   

Q: What do participants learn in your courses?

Gary Slavit: Participants will have an understanding of what makes a project successful. We can demonstrate the project lifecycle and show how to take a project from inception to completion. Participants will know how to plan, execute, and manage a project and how to avoid some of the potholes in the road. 

Q: Can you tell us about your background?

Gary Slavit: I’ve been teaching project management for 15 years but have been a project manager for over 35 years. Projects have become more complex, larger, riskier, costlier and with more stringent deadlines. This, along with other factors, has created the need for stronger management, change control, and new project management methods.

The old techniques of waterfall delivery (plan-build-deliver) are giving way to more iterative methods where projects are delivered in smaller pieces rather than one big product. This allows for change and more efficient use of time and resources, which gives more effective and better outcomes in meeting business objectives.

Q: Thank you, Gary.

Gary teaches in the Project Management series and the Workforce Development Professional programs.