When one hears the words “project management,” some may envision a profession embedded in the construction, business or supply chain fields. These assumptions wouldn’t be wrong, as project management professionals play pivotal roles in each of these industries, but they wouldn’t form the full picture either. Today, project managers are part of every profession – though they don’t always go by that exact title.
Ryan Munz is not your typical project manager. As the University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s newest head football coach, Munz spends his days recruiting student-athletes, fundraising, working with campus relations for various initiatives, and – of course – coaching. It’s this last responsibility that Munz especially enjoys.
“As a coach, you get to influence more people in a year than most people do in a lifetime,” Munz said. “It’s an awesome feeling in getting to see a kid come in as a seventeen-year-old and leave as a twenty-one-year-old, knowing that you directly impacted their well-being.”
While his job has many highlights, it also requires lots of work. To be successful at what he does, Munz says it’s all about managing timelines, deadlines and budget restraints – the core duties of any project management professional. Fortunately, Munz prepared for these very responsibilities during his time at UW-Platteville as a two-time graduate, first earning his bachelor’s degree in business finance in 2006 and then a Master of Science in Project Management degree in 2008.
Yet Munz didn’t always know he wanted to go into project management. Following a successful football career as an undergraduate, Munz wished to continue his passion for sports, joining his alma mater’s football department as a graduate assistant in 2006. However, with this position came the requirement that Munz earn a master’s degree through UW-Platteville. It was a condition that suited Munz just fine.
“I thought, if I was going to be in coaching, I needed to have a plan B, just in case it didn’t last very long,” Munz said. “I stumbled onto UW-Platteville’s online offerings and decided to go the PM route, as it seemed like a good fit for my first major. Plus, this format was beneficial to me because, as a first-year coach, it allowed me to go on the road recruiting, so I could complete my coursework from anywhere.”
Outside of developing his coaching skills, the skills Munz learned in class proved just as helpful in aiding his career. Of the many lessons he learned, the concept that people are the most important aspect of any organization hit home with him. Managing timelines, deadlines and fiscal resources have their place in maintaining and improving an organization’s health, but it’s the people who hold the most impact. It’s a principle Munz regularly applies to his current duties, from recruiting student-athletes to developing their individual talents. After all, producing a successful football organization is a team effort, and it’s Munz’s job to know who is pulling their weight and who isn’t.
Said another way, Munz wears both the hat of a head football coach and a project manager.
“Project management isn’t just building buildings,” Munz said. “There’s a need for project managers in every industry now, because in every industry there’s always some type of project needing to be managed. New project managers should understand that in today’s world everything is a project.”
With a wealth of fields to choose from, however, picking the right fit for prospective project managers may seem like a daunting task. Thankfully, going back to school to explore and develop personal interests is always an option, and Munz agrees.
“Education is important,” he said. “These days, a master’s degree is becoming the new bachelor’s. For example, I wouldn’t be a head football coach if I didn’t have a graduate degree. But more than that, I believe in our programs here at Platteville. We do a really great job of tailoring curriculum that fits our students’ individual goals.”