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In the midst of tragedy, the everyday heroes in Ukraine are moving people around the world

In the midst of tragedy, the everyday heroes in Ukraine are moving people around the world

Ukrainian flag.

The world watched, holding its collective breath as Russia threatened to invade Ukraine. For weeks, as Russia teased the sovereign nation with military exercises along the country’s border and the soldiers moved tanks this way and that, we saw Ukrainians preparing to defend their land. Citizens practiced aiming with guns made out of wood, while others learned to properly use knives in hand-to-hand combat. The citizens of Ukraine had no intention of allowing their country to be overtaken, and now, in the midst of the invasion, we get to see Ukrainians show who they really are.

People have fled to safety but many have stayed behind to fight, some you wouldn’t expect. A former beauty queen, Anastasia Lenna, Miss Grand Ukraine 2015, revealed on her Instagram account that she traded in her crown and sash for military fatigues and an automatic rifle. In one of her posts, she writes “everyone who crosses the Ukrainian border with the intent to invade will be killed.” Lenna's Instagram stories have been filled with calls to action, including praise for the men and women fighting to protect their country.



An 80-year-old man showed up to join the Ukrainian army carrying only a small overnight bag that contained two T-shirts, an extra pair of pants, a toothbrush and a few sandwiches for lunch. He was joining for his grandkids, he said. Another elderly person stood in front of a Russian soldier to confront him about why he was in Ukraine. The woman called the soldiers occupants and fascists, before offering the soldier sunflower seeds, stating "take these seeds and put them in your pockets, so at least sunflowers will grow when you die here." Sunflowers are Ukraine's national flower.

While bombs are dropping, shots are being fired and sirens blare in Ukraine, nurses and doctors are caring for NICU babies in a makeshift bomb shelter. The babies, some of which look only hours old, were from the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in Dnipro in Eastern Ukraine. Some of them were having oxygen hand-pumped into their lungs by the nurses who were attending to them. The infants were taken to the bomb shelter as Dnipro was struck by missiles.

Ukrainian athletes are showing up to defend their motherland. Vlodymyr Bezsonov, a 63-year-old football legend, took up arms to defend Ukraine from Russia. In a short video, he explains that he’s joining his country’s fight. Two heavyweight boxing champions, Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko, both multimillionaires with the means to escape, stayed behind to fight alongside their fellow Ukrainians. Vitali, who is the mayor of Kyiv and the son of a former general in the Soviet Air Force, told "Good Morning Britain," “I don’t have another choice, I have to do that.”

Stories such as these are not limited to the handful here. There are stories of everyday heroes taking up arms, helping their fellow Ukrainians through whatever means necessary, occurring throughout the war-torn days and nights. Ukraine never had the idea to surrender, and the spirit of their people is no less than inspiring.

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From political science to joining the fight against cancer: How one woman found her passion

An unexpected pivot to project management expanded Krystal Brady's idea of what it means to make a positive impact.

Krystal Brady/PMI

Krystal Brady utilizes her project management skills to help advance cancer research and advocacy.

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Cancer impacts nearly everyone’s life in one way or another, and thankfully, we’re learning more about treatment and prevention every day. Individuals and organizations dedicated to fighting cancer and promising research from scientists are often front and center, but we don’t always see the people working behind the scenes to make the fight possible.

People like Krystal Brady.

While studying political science in college, Brady envisioned her future self in public office. She never dreamed she’d build a successful career in the world of oncology, helping cancer researchers, doctors and advocates continue battling cancer, but more efficiently.

Brady’s journey to oncology began with a seasonal job at a small publishing company, which helped pay for college and awakened her love for managing projects. Now, 15 years later, she’s serving as director of digital experience and strategy at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), which she describes as “the perfect place to pair my love of project management and desire to make positive change in the world.”

As a project manager, Brady helps make big ideas for the improvement of diagnosing and treating cancer a reality. She is responsible for driving the critical projects that impact the lives of cancer researchers, doctors, and patients.

“I tell people that my job is part toolbox, part glue,” says Brady. “Being a project manager means being responsible for understanding the details of a project, knowing what tools or resources you need to execute the project, and facilitating the flow of that work to the best outcome possible. That means promoting communication, partnership, and ownership among the team for the project.”

At its heart, Brady’s project management work is about helping people. One of the big projects Brady is currently working on is ASCO’s digital transformation, which includes upgrading systems and applications to help streamline and personalize oncologists’ online experience so they can access the right resources more quickly. Whether you are managing humans or machines, there’s an extraordinary need for workers with the skillset to harness new technology and solve problems.

The digital transformation project also includes preparing for the use of emerging technologies such as generative AI to help them in their research and practices.

“Most importantly, it lays the groundwork for us to make a meaningful impact at the point of care, giving the oncologist and patient the absolute latest recommendations or guidelines for care for that specific patient or case, allowing the doctor to spend more time with their patients and less time on paperwork,” Brady says.

In today’s fast-changing, quickly advancing world, project management is perhaps more valuable than ever. After discovering her love for it, Brady earned her Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification through Project Management Institute (PMI)—the premier professional organization for project managers with chapters all over the world—which she says gave her an edge over other candidates when she applied for her job at ASCO.

“The knowledge I gained in preparing for the PMP exam serves me every day in my role,” Brady says. “What I did not expect and have truly come to value is the PMI network as well – finding like-minded individuals, opportunities for continuous learning, and the ability to volunteer and give back.”

PMI’s growing community – including more than 300 chapters globally – serves as a place for project managers and individuals who use project management skills to learn and grow through events, online resources, and certification programs.

While people often think of project management in the context of corporate careers, all industries and organizations need project managers, making it a great career for those who want to elevate our world through non-profits or other service-oriented fields.

“Project management makes a difference by focusing on efficiency and outcomes, making us all a little better at what we do,” says Brady. “In almost every industry, understanding how to do our work more effectively and efficiently means more value to our customers, and the world at large, at an increased pace.”

Project management is also a stable career path in high demand as shown by PMI research, which found that the global economy will need 25 million more project managers by 2030 and that the median salary for project managers in the US has grown to $120K.

If you’d like to learn more about careers in project management, PMI has resources to help you get started or prove your proficiency, including its entry-level Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification program. For those interested in pursuing a project management career to make a difference, it could be your first step.
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