Heidi Basso is Noodle’s Senior Director, Project Management. Originally from Connecticut before moving to Long Island, NY, she received her education at the State University of NY at Oswego. Heidi gives credit for much of her success to her mother, who raised her as a single parent and went back to school to study Library Science. She shares that witnessing her mother overcome her struggles, while still providing a great life for her, definitely inspired her to pursue a career in education. Heidi works with CCA, which supports a number of unique institutions with different projects and initiatives. Heidi first started off as a project manager, managing projects while supporting her team’s capacity. Now, she’s responsible for all of the agency’s projects and the project management process as a whole. Heidi supports her team through understanding their needs, learning their individual work styles and ultimately ensuring they have the tools necessary for success.
Get to Know Senior Director, Project Management Heidi Basso
During my career I have found that you can learn something valuable from just about anyone…Being open to new ideas and experiences is the best way to learn and grow.
What elements or traits does a great leader exhibit?
A great leader is someone who leverages their experience to make calculated decisions even though they may be high risk. A great leader leads by example and is willing to continually learn and grow as an individual.
When you think of great leadership, who comes to mind? Why?
When I think of a great leader, I think of the head of one of the organizations I used to work for. The leader of this organization was a great business man. He still is today. He started the company when he was in his late 20s and slowly grew from a two man shop to a much larger organization of over 40 people today. He knew what was needed from each role or person on the team, even though he may not have known every specific task of each position. He kept open communication with his staff and updated them on everything they needed to know. He was a great listener and seemed to truly care for everyone on the team. However, he was also able to make hard business decisions—some of which were not always easy for him to make, but would be in the best interest of the company’s success. Watching him lead and grow his business was inspiring.
How has your personal leadership style evolved?
I have evolved from being an entry level project manager where I was given tasks to manage and oversee while keeping an eye on the team’s capacity. Now, I am in charge of all of the agency’s projects and the project management process as a whole. I am required to look at the big picture, know my team’s capabilities, their capacity and figure out how to fill in any gaps by using our associative model. I went from looking up to a leader, to becoming one myself.
What is it about your background or career experiences that successfully positioned you for your role at Noodle? Describe that role.
In my role as a senior director of project management, I am responsible for making sure all of our projects are accurately estimated, scheduled, and delivered to our clients on time. I work closely with all members of my team to ensure they understand the scope and budget of a project and that everyone has what they need to do their work. During my career I have found that you can learn something valuable from just about anyone. The person right out of school can teach you something new, just as a senior level executive can. Being open to new ideas and experiences is the best way to learn and grow.
How do you support the success of your team?
As a project manager, I am responsible for making sure my team has what they need to accomplish their tasks. This includes enough time to complete the project, the correct assets to create the piece and clear direction so they are aware of the goals and objectives of the project. I am also responsible for estimating the cost of executing our projects—which is extremely important since it directly impacts how profitable we are. When estimating a project, I always look at past budget history—including how we did on a similar project, so I know if we charged the correct amount, or need to adjust the estimate up or down to remain profitable and fair.
Describe how your career has been enhanced by exposure to diverse people, places or experiences.
Higher ed is a giant, diverse field. At CCA, we work with clients that have many different types of needs and backgrounds. We work with different institutions—an all women’s college, faith-based universities, schools in cities and rural settings—just to name a few. We are forced to switch gears often to learn about each school and its diverse needs to do our best work. I love that we are exposed to all sorts of different institutions. This helps us to grow as a team and become experts in many different areas.
What are some of the most effective tools in your leadership arsenal?
The most important tool in my leadership arsenal is to learn each team member’s style. No two people work the same and learning how people respond to pressure, a request to work after hours, or even unexpected good news (like no client feedback on a big project) is so important. Knowing how to approach people in a positive and personal way with any unexpected changes is so important to our workflow and the team’s overall happiness.
Please tell us something about yourself that people would be surprised to learn.
I lived in Ireland for 4 months, where I attended 3 months of 6th grade. It was such a different experience! From the pace at which they learned, to the types of classes we had, and we didn’t change classrooms at all. Every class took place in one room with the same students and teacher all day. I was excused from Gaelic since I had no background in the language – the other students had been taking it their whole lives. It was quite the experience!