5Qs: Rohan Garricks, Project Management Consultant

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Rohan Garricks hails from Spanish Town, Jamaica, where he enjoyed school and playing soccer and cricket as a kid growing up. With a BSc degree from the University of the West Indies, and a MS in Project Management from the University of Maryland University College, Garricks taught physics and mathematics in Jamaica and tutors graduate students at the University of Maryland. He currently lives in Orlando, FL, where he is a technical manager at Universal Orlando Resort, and a director at DGB Live. He brings his expertise to LDI2018, where he will teach two courses in project management.

1. Can you talk a little about your background?

My proudest moment in high school was being a member of the team that won the National School Challenge championship. After leaving high school, I went on to the University of the West Indies where I got involved in student politics while doing my BSc degree in Physics and Electronics. I served as an elected student leader and then followed this up with a stint as an assistant student services manager. During college, I got involved in technical theater and became very interested in lighting and immersed myself in learning the skill. This included travelling to Orlando to attend LDI from Jamaica during the late 1990s as I recognized the value of what LDI offers to practitioners.

I realize that there is an absence of formally trained project managers in the entertainment industry, hence my decision to do an MSc as well as my PMP certification, while continuing to practice my craft in the entertainment industry. The application of the principles of Project Management in the entertainment industry is exciting. There are a lot of principles that the entertainment industry can teach other industries about project management as well as learn from other industries.

2. Why is project management such an essential skill to learn? 

To varying extents, managing projects is a part of every manager’s responsibility. Project management, as a discipline, has been formally recognized outside of the entertainment industry for a while now; however, within the entertainment industry, the realization that there is a need for formal project management training has not been as popular. With over 80% of projects running behind and/or over-budget coupled with the need for organizations to become more efficient, organization must improve the way projects are managed. Projects are the basis for the growth of organizations and the entertainment industry is no different, so project management skills are very applicable in this and every industry.

3. What are you teaching at LDI this year?

I am extremely proud to be giving back to the community of theater, theme park, and entertainment by teaching the two full-day sessions of Project Management Boot Camp: Advanced Course and an Introductory course.

4. What is the most challenging project you have ever done, and why?

The most challenging project I have worked on was with NCL (Norwegian Cruise Line). During this project, 15 shows were installed across four newly acquired Europe-based cruise-ships. Coordinating the logistics of rehearsal in Tampa, Fl, set design, audio design, and lighting design with freelancers all over the globe and with set construction primarily in New York or Canada was an interesting challenge. The coordination of all these moving parts was a success only because of the strong team effort, and I was excited by the challenge. This challenge forced me to create some solutions for tracking multiple pieces of information, which always had to be compare and put side by side for good decisions to be made. This leads to some powerful project templates that have served me well, as well as many others who have been introduced to these templates in my various training seminars over the years. Coordinating the movement of people and sets to the various shipping ports throughout Europe and the Americas was a fun adventure. This was followed by the on-board install of shows with some of the ships still in operation with others were in dry-dock. This meant finding creative solutions to the problem of installing show in a space with very little if any down time or ships that were undergoing major repair and maintenance. The realm of challenges was mind-boggling. The planning was very important and equally important was the skill of adapting to changes.

5. What advice would you give to young people getting into the industry today?

Be careful to develop a strong work ethic. Be the one on the team who is willing to push to make it happen. Develop the habit of finding a solution instead of (just) launching a complaint. 

Work harder than you are paid, and apply this principle even when you are working your dream job. With working hard as your focus, you will continue to enjoy what you do and learn from your experiences.

Remember that you are your brand. Always invest in developing your brand and protect the image of your brand as a professional in the entertainment industry.

Reading and self-driven training are strong ways to improve your skills/knowledge. I believe that conferences like LDI are an awesome space for growth. 

Become a specialist! Specialize in something that you enjoy doing so that you will enjoy your work and be good at it. I have been very fortunate to have found a career that allows me to use my strength while operating in a sphere that I enjoy. I enjoy the challenge of defining objectives with a team, and then figuring out how to achieve that set of objectives, and ultimately, managing the process and seeing the results.

Define the things about the persons you most admire, and work towards developing those skills and abilities. Use reverse engineering—begin with the end in mind. Be coach-able and always have a mentor. 

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