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Study 1

A CEO expects his global organization to deliver a minimum of $6M in process improvement value 

while delivering a higher quality employee and customer experience.



Half way through the first year of the $6M challenge, the C-level leaders had no evidence that the projects were progressing as required to meet the CEO’s benefits goal on time.  The Director of Internal Audit, who reported to the CFO, was assigned to directly manage the portfolio of projects involving every aspect of this global firm from Legal to Information Technology, in addition to delivering on all of the responsibilities of his existing, demanding role.  Many of the project leaders, including the Director, had never been formally trained in project management and the company did not have a consistent project methodology, language or talent development approach for subject matter experts asked to lead projects in addition to their roles.   

Confidential Meeting

We worked with the Director of Internal Audit to: 

  • Implement basic portfolio management and governance best practices

  • Train & Coach all of the project leaders assigned

  • Create a framework to reduce time that project management tasks consume staff

  • Report the truth on progress toward and likelihood of achieving the goals 

  • Integrate project status into the existing enterprise-wide portfolio management tool managed by the IT PMO


  • Rapidly provided Visibility into project performance to date

  • Governance – Instituted a disciplined process for C-level leaders to continuously monitor and manage the project portfolio globally

  • Benefits Realization – Partnered with internal Finance personnel to track benefits toward the CEO’s expected $6M ROI 

  • Improved Communications – Focused on the cadence and quality of communications between Leadership and project owners about progress, lack thereof and changes, assisted everyone in continuously prioritizing efforts toward the ‘right’ projects based on governance priorities

  • Resource Utilization – Create a forum for reviewing resource needs and making decisions to focus resources on the highest priority work

  • Increased Talent – All of the leaders assigned to lead these projects were experts in their fields and many took seriously the opportunity to learn how to apply simple, practical project management practices that they can use wherever their careers may take them.  



"Dawn’s team helped us transform a disorganized group of individual initiatives into a cohesive project portfolio. Through this process we were able to deliver significant value to the organization."

- Director, Internal Audit Finance 


"Dawn’s team provided leadership and training with a well-disciplined methodology for project and portfolio management to non-project managers.  They are very knowledgeable in this space and it was clearly demonstrated through results provided regularly to our senior executives.  Once again they have performed at the highest levels of satisfaction and professionalism."


- Director, Information Technology (IT) Program Management Office (PMO)

City of Philadelphia Improves Project Management Capabilities 

Private-Sector Best Practices Boosts Leadership Skills City-wide

Study 2
City Hall in Philadelphia Pennsylvania USA


In support of one of Mayor Michael A. Nutter’s key Strategic Plan Goals--to “make the government work more efficiently and effectively, with integrity and responsiveness”-- the City of Philadelphia created the Customer Service Leadership Academy in 2011.


The Challenge.  For the new Managing Director, it was his first experience working in the public sector.   He felt that introducing best practices from business into government could be a way to meet the Mayor’s goal.  The stakes were high; done well and city government gets transformed, if executed poorly the initiative would be an embarrassment and lower morale.  


Soon thereafter, Dawn Mahan and her organization, partnered with the Managing Director to evaluate and improve its internal project management capabilities.  


After participating in the organizational assessment and attending several training workshops led by Mahan, city Deputy Managing Director, Rosetta Carrington Lue, approached Mahan about offering project management training to supervisors across the city.

Private Sector Government Parnership

The response was overwhelming.  


City Managing Director and Deputy Mayor Rich Negrin said, “The level of enthusiastic participation on Friday afternoons by diverse departments throughout the entire 5-month period demonstrates the importance of project management talent development in all aspects of the city.“ 


Overall, 450 attendees rated the program as excellent in all the Customer Service Leadership Academy’s evaluation areas. 


  • Mini-courses delivered bite-sized, focused topics to enable participants to implement improvements immediately on-the-job

  • Consistency in approach 

  • Team building across city departments

  • Business best practices successfully introduced into government

  • 450 supervisor-level and above participants rated the program as excellent 

Private Equity Owned Global Company – CFO/CIO Game Changer 

A Global Chief Financial Officer (CFO) recently acquired the Information Technology (IT) group when the CIO exited this private equity-owned corporation.  A sense of urgency had been communicated widely regarding the need to improve the company’s financials.

Study 3
Executive at a chemical plant


This global company, part of which has existed for over 100 years, was acquired by a private equity company.  Morale was at an all-time low as personnel had endured five (5) CEO changes in several years, severe cuts in personnel and benefits, a major project failure that impacted customers, and several global acquisitions in low-cost labor areas.  The CIO exited the company to pursue another opportunity, so the IT group recently began reporting to the CFO.  The Board and C-level were focused on improving EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization) and asked the organization for its financial improvement project ideas.  The response was underwhelming. 

Global Executive

The CFO/CIO made some inquiries, discovered (and was not surprised) that: 

  1. people did not feel comfortable bringing their ideas forward; 

  2. people did not feel confident in leading projects

  3. since there are now fewer people to do the day-to-day work, people felt that any ideas would be added to their increased job responsibilities


The CFO took a bold step in an effort to change the climate to encourage employee engagement in business success, while also leading an improvement in the firm’s financial position.    


Global Finance and IT leaders attended mini-courses over several months that allowed them to experience the project lifecycle in a safe learning environment, immediately apply what they learned to their projects and receive coaching to support them in getting their projects done.  

The CFO also received some light coaching to help prepare him to react in a positive way to those who were ready to share their project ideas by walking through the Business Cases they developed.  For some, this was the person’s first opportunity to meet one-on-one with the CFO.   Afterwards, one participant reported, “He is an involved Sponsor, asked good questions to make us think, and created a good atmosphere that led to creativity.  It was a helpful, open conversation (didn’t feel like pitching for your life).”  

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