Constructing a bright future in project management
A 'can-do' attitude paired with SAIT training has helped Michele Smith establish herself in the construction industry
“I want to stay current, and SAIT is a great place to do that.”
If you had told 18-year-old Michele Smith she would become a project manager in commercial construction, she wouldn’t have believed you. But it turns out anything is possible when you commit to finding what makes you happy — and pair it with the right training.
Beginning her educational journey with a degree in political science, she had her sights set on becoming a lawyer or teacher. Then, a few chance meetings, combined with the realization neither law nor education were what she actually wanted to do, led her to try other career paths — eventually finding the right fit and excelling in the construction industry.
A blend of curiosity and tenacity has been the secret sauce to climbing the corporate ladder wherever she goes. But, despite her exceptional growth, she knew she needed to back her experience with an industry-recognized certification in Applied Project Management and an internationally recognized designation, Project Management Professional (PMP) — that’s where SAIT came in.
What made you want to enrol in SAIT’s Applied Project Management program?
I was working with BrightPath Kids Corp. as part of their facilities team and began branching out into new construction projects as the company grew their presence throughout Canada. Though my knowledge in facilities management was limited when I started, I had the drive to learn and succeed. I soon realized how much I loved being part of commercial construction projects and wanted a credential to supplement my experience. That’s where SAIT’s Applied Project Management program came in — and it was also a great way to gain the knowledge I needed to pass my PMP exam.
How do you think the program prepared you to get to where you are today?
Since I completed the program, I’ve been working full time as a Project Manager with Akela Construction Ltd. The relationships I was able to develop with external partners while with BrightPath, combined with my Applied Project Management certification, has shown employers that I not only have the experience but also the skill set required to execute projects successfully. I’ve also gained so much by connecting with and bouncing scenarios off instructors and fellow classmates.
You earned an Applied Project Management Certificate of Achievement from SAIT and went on to get your PMP designation. Now you’re a full-time project manager and you’re back at SAIT again. What made you want to come back to do more upskilling?
Project Management is highly versatile and allows you to practice it in many different fields. Since I’m focusing my career on commercial construction, I wanted to go back to SAIT and am now in the midst of completing my Construction Management Certification as a stepping stone to obtaining a Gold Seal. Again, I have the tenacity but wanted to fill in the knowledge gaps and do what I can to be the best at my job. It’s also no secret that things are constantly changing, to think you know everything is a mistake just waiting to happen. As cliché as it sounds, you can really never stop learning. I want to stay current, and SAIT is a great place to do that.
What has your experience been like as a continuing education student at SAIT?
I’ve found it’s a lot easier going back to school as a continuing education student. 18-year-old me at university was not nearly as disciplined as I am now. I am better at time management and making those connections with my classmates and instructors has made learning the course material much more applicable. I really have enjoyed the instructors and their drive for the students to succeed, as well as the comradery amongst the students when tackling a tough project.
What would you say to someone who’s considering going to SAIT to update their skill set?
Go! Life is never going to slow down and there is never going to be a perfect time so go to school. You will not regret it. Companies want their employees to be trained in what is current and having new skills always looks great on your resume. You will also meet people along the way who may become your friends, colleagues or someone who simply shares a different point of view and opens you up to thinking about things differently.
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SAIT is a Global Registered Educational Provider of project management training approved by the Project Management Institute (PMI®). Our program is delivered in a flexible way to meet the needs of today's busy professionals.