Management by Design: Student Government Association Officer Lorena De Benedittis

Lorena De Benedittis at a “Parklet” in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights neighborhood.

Lorena De Benedittis has master’s degrees in graphic design and urban design and has come to Golden Gate University to earn a third in Project Management. “GGU is ranked #1 for adult learners and it’s the perfect summation of who I am as a professional — someone who never stops striving for greatness.” After eight years working as a graphic designer, she has her sights set on managing a creative team. Perhaps recognizing this ambitiousness, her peers recently elected her to the GGU Student Government Association as Marketing & Communication Officer.

A true international student from Fano, Italy, Lorena has studied in her native country as well as Ireland, Germany, and Spain. She also interned at a tech company in the San Francisco Bay Area during a previous stint in the US.

Pantone to Projects

“Americans are really fantastic in business, and there’s no better place to learn project management,” Lorena says. “GGU gives me access to Bay Area professionals which means I’m learning how to solve real workplace problems and produce practical solutions.” Lorena offers that the design profession is more valued in the US because there are fewer people with a design sense here; and tech companies such as Google, Skype, and Apple see design as integral to what they do.

In any country, design firms are challenged by coordinating an internal team and communicating with clients about requirements and deadlines. In the MS in Project Management program, she is learning to apply methods such as Agile Management and Six Sigma. “I enjoy learning about how to improve business processes and how to mitigate errors. I’m hoping to improve my skill set in managing projects and think the Six Sigma formula has helped me understand ways to improve my project management style.”

In European plazas, you can eat tapas or drink coffee or just use the space for free. Adaptive Metropolis was an amazing project to work on because it brought this kind of experience to the US.

San Francisco Bay Area Experience

In 2013, Lorena won just one of 20 scholarships that were awarded by the Masters Architecture City Regeneration (ReCity) program, sponsored by UNESCO. Given a choice of worldwide firms for an internship, she chose Rebar (now called Gelt Architecture) in San Francisco because of its focus on innovation. Rebar invented the term “Parklets,” which are small common areas deployed in urban areas instead of parking spaces. Lorena worked an analogous project, “Adaptive Metropolis,” that transformed an empty lot on the San Francisco waterfront into a mixed-use space in partnership with the San Francisco Exploratorium.

“The project was a way to breathe life into an empty place,” she says, “especially for the benefit of children. In European plazas, you can eat tapas or drink coffee or just use the space for free. Adaptive Metropolis was an amazing project to work on because it brought this kind of experience to the US.”

Lorena enjoyed the Adaptive Metropolis project not only because it was a new experience, but also because it was a gift to a city she was learning to love. She decided to stay in the Bay Area to continue her education and training, hoping to one day lead a large team in a project that can offer real-world solutions to design problems. Lorena hopes to stay in the Bay Area after graduation and is looking forward to working for a cutting-edge company that will utilize all of her skills.

Marie Spark, Project Management Program Director & Lecturer at GGU, says: “Students like Lorena, who come out of creative fields, reflect the fact that employers value project management skills in every field and industry — rather than just the traditional hot spots of technology and banking. It is anticipated that by 2020, as many as 11 million project management jobs will be added by the US its 10 major trading partners.”

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