TAIT Project Managers: Project management at TAIT is a little different than project management in other industries. It’s much more akin to account management or client management. We’re the people picking up the phone or responding to the initial inquiry, really the first thing to do is to try and understand what the client needs. And then we kind of play this interesting duality game where we’re the outward facing part of TAIT to the client, but we’re also the inward facing representation for the client.
AS TAIT Project Managers, we try to translate as best we can the very technical requirements of building a machine into something that an artistically minded person can understand and work with. Our past experience is a great jumping off point. Normally, the process of man, somebody wants to do something brand new, okay well let’s break it into its parts and think about how we’ve done with the parts before. Maybe that solution was more for a permanent install. The connections maybe are bolted, this show is going to go on the road, so do we need to make the connections more quick release or make it pack better or something like this.
We coordinate the efforts of a lot of folks, so the interpersonal is critical. Having the right sort of attitude and approach to deal with people and know how to change that and adapt to the needs of the individual that you’re dealing with at that specific time. You put the right people in a room together and you can achieve anything in a pretty fast time as well. I was a theater kid my whole life and when I was in undergrad in Washington state, I used to do stagehand calls with Local 93 in Spokane. I remember when I came out to TAIT for the first time, walking around the office, looking at all the pictures on the walls, I was like, I set up that show and I set up that show and I set up that show, it was kind of serendipitous. It was almost like I was supposed to end up here.
When I graduated I was fortunate enough to get a job with Cirque du Soleil in Macau, China and worked with them, learned a lot about performer flying which is really what my true specialty is, performer flying. Then came to TAIT by accident, frankly. Some of my friends who were already working here as TAIT Project Managers were saying oh, you should come down, you should visit, you should see this place. They’re looking for people that do performer flying. Four years later here we are, still trying to make the best performer flying rigs we can.
The reason I came into my job is because I have a unique knowledge of the gear and equipment and Navigator that allows me to speak to my clients. But the things that I am moving towards and trying to build are general business skills. I’m actually working on an MBA with a focus in project management, trying to really learn a lot about those areas where I feel like I’m falling short.
It’s a real mix of skills, a lot of people management, a lot of budgeting, financial management, time scheduling. The other thing is I need to learn another language. I do so much work in Japan, I’m actually trying to take Japanese as a second language. Most people are kind of not really aware of what it is that I would do on a project. But I know that if I wasn’t doing it then it wouldn’t happen, so there’s something quite nice about the behind the scenes, making shit happen.
What’s important to me is to instill this sense of awe and wonder. That’s why I do what I do, if I can help someone make their day just better for a couple hours, or even on a theme park attraction, just five minutes, it’s an amazing feeling. I really like that start middle and end so having seen the initial concept, the initial sketch and being able to stand back and look at it doing what it was supposed to do, there’s a really good sense of satisfaction there. Every day there’s new challenges. Every day there’s new people and new clients coming to me with new ideas and that really drives me to get up and come into work every day and see what’s next.