Organization and reflection through PLOTTER – Chelsea Park [Interview No.002]

PLOTTERs are active in a variety of worlds, and their energy is full of creativity. PLOTTER Magazine highlights change-makers who trace their steps from the past to the present and lead the future in a positive direction. Through their ideas and values, we hope that the stories of PLOTTER, like the tools we create, will inspire you for your creativity.

We interviewed Chelsea Park who is a Project Management Lead at a media company in Silicon Valley. At her job, she designs programs for the well-being and career growth of employees at her company. We found it interesting how she utilizes PLOTTER to balance the demanding schedule of projects, as well as stay innovative when designing new processes.

Chelsea also shares the importance of constant reflection when expanding on different areas of growth. When we hold PLOTTER in our hands, we think about the positive changes we want in our lives as we move into the future. We hope her story can inspire you to develop that reflective mindset too. 

What exactly does a project manager role entail at your job? 

My primary responsibility is project management. I build internal programs for the company and employees like performance reviews, learning and development, management training, and they all need to be signed off by executives and then rolled out to employees regularly. It involves a lot of cross-functional work with different teams at the company. In my workflow, there are a lot of due dates and deadlines that I set for myself and the project teams I’m working with. To keep me and everybody I work with on track, I use a combination of digital and analog. On top of that, I’ve always used a paper planner to help with shuffling tasks. 

Have you always known you wanted to work with people and talent?

Absolutely not! I was originally an economics major and it’s funny because I didn’t know what I wanted to do with this degree. I started out working as a research analyst at a compensation firm. We spent most of our time analyzing and calculating compensation numbers, which wasn’t the most exciting, but I learned useful skills in data analysis that I still use to this day.  Eventually, I started to manage, and that’s when I found something rewarding. I found that I enjoy helping people along their career paths. What do you want to do? How can I help you get there? Over time, I formally transitioned within the company to the HR Department. I started focusing on learning and development, which is an industry itself within HR where you figure out career planning for employees as well as resources to provide to them.

So basically, you support people in your company to become better at their jobs.

Yes! I’ve held workshops and planned learning opportunities for employees with a limited budget. At my current job, I got to work on the backend of the business and develop the People team’s operational plans. Although I no longer facilitate workshops or talk with new hires all that often, I get to focus on managing programs operationally. For example, we have an in-house management training program that we’re launching next week, and it’s been months in the making. I’m responsible for pulling all the details together, making sure everyone knows what they’re supposed to do, and things like that. And I didn’t think this was a job when I graduated. I did not think “Oh, one day I will use my organizational skills to be a project manager in the People space!” 

Isn’t it interesting how careers can develop without much planning?

It’s been a very organic sort of growth from role to role and I’m always trying to figure out: what am I good at? What do I like doing? What do I not like doing? Or what am I bad at? And I think this role in my current job is the first time where I feel like I’m using my natural skills, which are being organized and keeping everything on a timeline. So, it only took me almost 10 years, but it’s OK (laughs). 

How do you utilize your PLOTTER for Project Management?

One of my favorite things about PLOTTER is that although it’s an A5 size, the weight is light. Typically, in A5 notebooks, I find them too heavy to carry around. In my PLOTTER, I have all the essentials I need for work in my setup. It’s not very decorative, just functional enough for me to set up a monthly view to reference. I organized my pages three months at a time, with a two-day view on each page. A weekly view prefaces each week, and at the end, I have a space for a future log to write down things I need to remember for the following weeks. Finally, I use columns to separate tasks for different projects. 

By setting up each week in advance, I give myself the flexibility to add notes and comments as they come up! I like how this system helps me keep all the notes together, whereas I used to lose things when projects and tasks are in separate books. 

I enjoy writing, checking things off, circling tasks, and pushing things forward. My PLOTTER is always open on my desk in front of my monitor. As things come up through the workday, I flip to the right page and add to it. 

I imagine there are a lot of moving bits and pieces throughout the year?

Yes, you’re right. Even though we have large launch dates, things shift and change. For example, with COVID, the entire sports landscape was stopped for a good year. There weren’t too many sports events to cover for most of our writers and editors. To easily move deadlines and priorities, I use a combination of digital tools to easily collaborate with my teammates. However, for myself, I use an analog planner for daily to-do lists and things to keep track of ongoing projects I’m working on.

It does seem like your Pueblo PLOTTER is already seeing quite some use.

I love how the part where I hold my PLOTTER open is already getting shinier from patina. I love leather products and seeing them age with me. I’ve had pebbled leather and smooth leather, but the texture of Pueblo is interesting and unlike anything else I’ve owned. 

What would you say would be the guiding principle when you are designing programs for people’s growth?

I mean, the goal is for them to have practical takeaways that they can use in their day-to-day job. It’s the key principle of learning and development, especially with adults, who want to apply it to their daily habits right away. I also find letting participants interact with each other very useful. A lot of managers don’t get to talk to each other about managerial responsibilities – having open conversations about tough topics, how they handle them and giving each other advice. These are the two core things I try to keep in mind.

One thing I’ve noticed is that it’s interesting how you actively practice reflection, whether it’s with your job or in life.

Yes. I think it’s important for everyone, but also something hard to find time for. When I started as a young professional, I was an open book and didn’t know how to go about developing my career. As you said, I do this because I wanted to find out what made me passionate about my job. 

And it’s natural to experience both good and bad sides of a job, right?

There’s always a balance, right? Sometimes, a job is a job and there are parts to it that I’m not going to love doing because that’s how every job is. I think I’ve created a better work-life balance over the years, but it took a long time for me to find that. I always tell people that it took a lot of time to get where I am right now. I like doing research and thinking about possibilities. One of the things I like about my job now is that I’m not bound by any industry at all. People programs and project management are valued skills in different places. 

What were you like as a kid, have you always been this organized?

When my family moved from South Korea to California when I was 11, learning English as a second language and trying to make friends as a kid was a tough transition for me. My mom was there for me, passing down her organizational skills to make sure I have everything I need, for school, and life. She’s very methodical, and I probably get a lot of that from her. I was telling her the other day: “you taught me a lot of great organization skills and that’s why I get paid now, so thank you!”

Finally, what kind of person do you think PLOTTER is for?

PLOTTER is so open and flexible, so I think it’s for the everyday person. All of us are just trying to do our jobs and live our lives, and PLOTTER is an open tool that allows you to do your job, no matter what your lifestyle might look like. Anyone with a set of responsibilities to keep track of will find PLOTTER useful. Especially if you’re going to use a tool for every day, you might as well use something nice. It’s luxurious and practical. I’m inclined to invest in something like that for myself because if you’re using it every day, it should be inspiring and enjoyable. 

[ Chelsea Park, Project Manager]

Chelsea Park currently works as a project manager at a sports media company in San Francisco, developing company-wide people and organizational programs. Her hobbies include journaling, writing, and playing console games with her husband. She also enjoys traveling and exploring restaurants and good food in the Bay Area.