I still chuckle watching that scene in the movie “Up in the Air”, where Ryan Bingham travels across the United States as a businessman. I reference this movie often when asked by users what it is like being a Bentley ProjectWise Consultant which, by the way, is a far more rewarding career than firing people for a living. When I explain what it is we do, the reaction from users usually range from “I could never do that” to “Wow that is pretty cool!” The fact is I very much enjoy my work and, usually, the journey.
In short, a ProjectWise consultant is responsible for a wide range of primary activities, including training, new installations, upgrades and general counseling. However, it is never that straightforward. Each one of those topics has ancillary branches that require detailed collaboration with project managers, infrastructure personnel and, of course, the business/discipline community. In addition, we assist with providing demonstrations and assessments for potential users and system “health” checks for existing ones. The challenge, always, is to build the most effective ProjectWise environment that meets each users need. And no two are ever the same.
Looking beyond the work, I remember back when I was hired by Bentley, a colleague of mine told me that I would never travel anywhere “interesting”. After nearly 8 years with Bentley, I can say with certainty that has not been the case. Personally, I have had assignments near and far, from North American prairies, to major cities, to locations overseas. I have deployed ProjectWise in places unimaginable (Afghanistan) and exotic (Honolulu) and seemingly everywhere in between. Each location has its own charm and local stories (ask me sometime about my dinner in Erieau; that night in Amsterdam or my evening at the Inn at Chester Springs).
Some assignments call for a basic installation (is there really such a thing?), connecting users in one location, while others are more complex and require linking distributed teams. At least one common task in every assignment is to deliver training. For me, I would have to say that Administrator training is my least favorite activity, although I value it as one of my most critical. Something about talking 8 hours a day for 3 days does not appeal to me, yet I understand that proper training sets the foundation for every ProjectWise installation and cannot be marginalized. In fact, I recently joked with a user by twisting the expression “youth is wasted on the young” to “administrator training is wasted on a new user”. Of course that is not true, but there is merit to holding a ProjectWise Administration review after everyone has a clearer understanding of ProjectWise functionality and how it should be applied to their installation.
So how many assignments have I had? Well, let me start by saying I am a US citizen living in Canada as a “landed immigrant”. As a landed immigrant, I hold a Permanent Residency card, which renews every 5 years. As part of the renewal process, I am required to list all international trips. To make this easy on myself, when I started with Bentley I decided to track every trip (domestic and international) in Excel. To date, I have had 177 assignments for 69 different users in 58 cities, averaging 120 hotel nights annually (and these numbers likely pale in comparison to some of my peers). With one account, I was assigned as a “resident consultant”, meaning I essentially remained on site for 4-6 weeks for one project and up to 2-3 months for another. During this time I have formed professional and personal relationships with so many users that it is impossible for me to list them all. This is what I consider the most important aspect of my profession; the ability to connect with the end users, make them feel comfortable, gain their trust and respect and empower them with the knowledge required to build and maintain an effective system.
And while I may not agree with all the philosophies of Ryan Bingham, we are in alignment with at least one; always wear slip-on shoes!