12 Days of FINE. Day 6: Lori Dunkin

Posted in Insights

She pretty much invented digital project management at FINE as we know it. She’s Lori Dunkin, Director of Operations and Wearer of Hats, 8 years FINE.

*Why did you decide to become FINE?Lori
I wanted to work on a Mac, and in digital marketing because it's a lovely combination between technology, design and strategy.

What’s been a defining moment during your tenure?
When technology progressed beyond flash, opening up a new world of capabilities (and processes and planning that had to support it). When IE6, then later IE8 fell out of support. When people started carrying tiny computers in their pocket, revolutionizing the work we do to become device agnostic.

*Tell us about how some of the things changed once you joined the team.
Well, when I joined FINE, we were at the very beginning of having a true project management team. During my first couple years, we worked hard to turn that into a true role and understand as an organization the impact that makes on a project.

We reorganized the way we watched the whole portfolio of projects coming through the company and tracked their progress and status. We changed the way we approached team selection and assignments to projects so our staff had a better understanding of their roles on a project as it matures through to completion. Also, we created a business that kept Steve Fine himself from managing the books, which was a win for everyone at FINE.

All of this foundational work we did in the mid-2000s gave us increases in bandwidth and diversity of project type so we were ready as an organization to handle the significant changes that were afoot in the industry. We made it through the evolution - something FINE is well equipped to do again in the future.

*To you, what characteristics make FINE what it is?
A very skilled team of professionals who both have great ideas, but also know how to execute them on all levels (design, technology, program management). It’s a rare combination, in a world where people get stuck figuring out how to get started. We're tactical, and bring more than just ideas. Kickstarter and other Internet sweetheart sites have proved that ideas are a dime a dozen, but taking action on them - and being able to execute - is rare.

How has it changed?
We have more balance of disciplines. Project managers are no longer a 1 to 15 ratio of people in digital organizations who coordinate clients and meetings, but our Project Directors are a driving force on projects, often leading project and content strategy. We have more specialized roles, too. While we still emphasize "Swiss Army Knife" skills, the Macgyvers of the digital realm, we have enough specialized work for us to branch out into niches.

“Digital Project Manager” has also emerged as a real discipline. We now have a conference and everything!. There is finally a community for our PM / Strategist team to tap into, and it has validated the approaches we have taken and helps us to recognize our special skills in this marketplace.

When I started at FINE, we were on average a younger company. There was a newness about this work that attracted young folks. Now we have staff who actually learned about the web in college (gasp). There are code schools training developers; art schools are addressing digital and not everyone is by default self-trained.

Our clients used to come to us with a specific need. Now many of our clients start working with FINE because they know there's A need, but would like to engage in determining what to do about it. This really helps us show our "Bring Friends" approach because we can partner with an organization to guide them through a tactical roadmap instead of simply designing and building the website they're seeking.


To read more from Lori, and to learn where she thinks FINE is headed in the next 20 years, make your way back to Mingle on the 12th Day of FINE.

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