ATL Delivery Leadership

Keep Calm and Scuba On — Tiffany Hill on Scuba Diving and Project Management

Tiffany Hill

The №1 rule of scuba diving — keep calm. There’s only a certain amount of air to rely on, so relax and make sure to breathe.

So says Tiffany Hill, who got into scuba diving about five years ago on vacation in Punta Cana when her friend took her on a resort dive. Afterward, she was hooked.

Since then, she has secured an open water diving certification and gone on 16 dives in six different countries.

During the work week, Tiffany is a project manager. Currently, she manages two projects that have been mashed together — a system integration project and a data migration one.

An element of her job requires her to maintain control over projects. Perhaps her love for scuba diving is partially because far down below, she has to let go of control.

Tiffany prefers diving around reefs, because of their natural beauty and the beautiful types of fish they attract — angelfish, butterflyfish, damselfish, etc. — bodies flattened like pancakes and decorated with bright color designs and bizarre patterns.

She does NOT enjoy shipwreck diving. The iron ore from ships cloud up the area, shrinking visibility to nearly zero. She doesn’t like not being able to see what’s coming behind.

As a project manager, having line of sight is especially important. For large projects that have many stakeholders, Tiffany is responsible for achieving success, making sure the project doesn’t slip off the rails and explaining the decisions that are made. Knowing the status of every component of a project, who’s responsible for what and how they are performing is vital.

The best projects have buy-in from senior management, regular feedback from stakeholders and self-organized teams. In many ways, a project manager isn’t too different from a dive instructor swimming along with a group — sometimes swimming alongside others, other times exploring a different region.

And, like scuba diving, Tiffany often reminds herself to keep calm and focus on breathing.

“You only have so much time, so you want to plan all the way to the end,” she said. “Also, you always want a contingency plan, because it could very well save your life.”

If you’re interested in diving, Tiffany has a few pointers:

* Don’t go anywhere without the MyPADI app, which shows the nearest dive center that has an instructor who’s PADI certified.

* Tanks and BCDs can be rented anywhere, as can wet suits and goggles. Just depends how fashionable you want your wet suit and how cute the goggles.

* One thing you can’t rent is dish detergent. Dish detergent? You read that correctly. That or baby shampoo. Squeeze some onto the inside of the mask, wipe, then drop the mask into the water. The detergent creates a film that increases visibility. It’s a little diving trick to help you clear your mask while you’re underwater.

* Another must-have is baby oil. It allows you to slip into your suit. Make sure your suit sticks to you, rather than bloats full of water. It’s also a second layer of protection for the skin.

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