Getting to know: Rebecca Burkhardt

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Rebecca Burkhardt joined Think Consulting in August 2022. As a Senior Project Manager, she specializes in project rescues, PMIs and digital integrations for a range of clients. She also manages five Think Project Managers, mentoring and helping sharpen their skillsets for continued growth within Think. 

In this piece Rebecca explains her motivations and what drives her to deliver so successfully for her clients. 


Think: What was the pathway to your current role at Think Consulting?  

My first degree was in psychology. I was on track to study epidemiology at graduate school then an opportunity came up to be a project coordinator in health services – I’ve always been interested in mental health and people, and wanted to dive into the workforce quickly. I decided to try this out as I wanted a slight break between schooling. 

As project coordinator, I learnt the detail of the processes and was able to create a space where my improvements were heard. I started to flex my project managing skills at this point and I’ve never really looked back. 

I then became part of a breast and ovarian oncology research start up company in a small team. We were rapidly executing a wide range of tasks very quickly. I was setting up company processes at every level, from hiring people, executing contracts, selecting and implementing the accounting software through to managing the pre-clinical in vitro and in vivo trials while also having a hand in designing pre-clinical in-vivo trial tracking software, that we decided to create after noticing a gap in this area. Working on a start up was exciting and I learned a lot in 4 years, then an opportunity came up at an agency and I moved.  

I gained technical experience on website builds which I really enjoyed. I got to work with clients on their vision, and helped develop strategies to bring those visions to life. My time here firmed my resolve to seek out a project manager role as my next step. 

Think: You have a focused and driven approach to continuous improvement. What motivates you? 

Every position attracts different personality types. I know PMs who are drawn to it because of what you can do for the client, and that’s a big part of it for me. I also really enjoy bringing teams together, getting people working together really well and seeing everyone add value. My team’s success is my success.   

Think: Your next move was to us. How did that come about?   

By this point I’d worked for a large health services organization, a start up and an agency. I was leaning heavily to process improvement, looking for new challenges and the chance to have a bigger impact. When the role at Think came along, I jumped at the chance to work with a wide range of clients and apply my skills to a whole new set of projects and industries.  

Think: What type of client do you usually get matched to?  

I’m usually applied to project rescue situations, particularly those that require a technical or digital background. My biggest strength is bringing calm to chaos. I start with an overview of what’s going on and where the fires are. Then I can zoom in and start tackling issues in a targeted way. My goal is to get everyone through to the other side of it, intact and in better shape. There’s a lot of organization and prioritization required. I establish a framework to capture and define what’s needed, and then build out structures with the internal teams so that they can take ownership and regain control.  Day one and week one are critical periods on these projects, because everything needs to run very fast. I get a lot satisfaction here because the impact is significant when you can demonstrate the value added very quickly.  

I’m constantly on the alert for improvements. If there’s any bumps or potholes along the way I want those processes smoothed out so next time they don’t derail anything. It’s important to me to see strong connections between teams and departments. When work is done in silos, the results can be really poor because there’s no strong sense of the overall direction when everyone is only focused on their part. Good communication is essential so that people can share in the success of the overall result.  

Think: How did you decide Think was the right place for you? 

I actually read the Think founder’s book in a day before I signed my job offer. I wanted to be sure Think’s approach was aligned with mine. It really resonated with me because of the way we deliver success to our clients.  It all circles back to my interest in psychology, in people: I want to bring a sense of calm to people and reduce their anxiety.  

The Think approach is very tactical and there’s a value-add on day one. I gain trust fast by getting everything documented for our clients and showing them the robust timelines where you’re tracking everything. They have confidence that nothing will be forgotten and balls won’t be dropped. Sometimes my stress levels are high, but that’s very comfortable for me – project management definitely isn’t for everyone. I’m responsible for my team’s output, but I also make sure that no one is struggling, or spinning their wheels, or feels that they don’t have support that they need. It’s about matching the tasks to the skillset and ensuring everyone is developing but not overwhelmed. I use challenging situations as learning moments to get them through and set up for next time.   

The end result is that my clients get their project on track and on budget. My team grow their skills and we share the joy that comes from seeing a project rescued and the client in a really strong position. 

Think: What are this year’s highlights?  

One standout project for me professionally, was a huge digital integration for a broadcast organization that was not previously focused on digital and app-based broadcast channels. The integration was full of unknowns for them and that can be really alarming, even for established, high-performing, teams. Digital transitions may require a ton of technical knowledge for the integration itself, that once completed, can be managed like any other part of the business. Getting through the initial digital transition was huge. It involved journalistic content, and new processes for people who were comfortable in the familiar processes. Transitions like this touch many people, and the change management piece is enormous. I came in to support the internal team, and seeing them through from shaky start to a fantastic finish was really great. 

 Personally, my highlight would be adding the service delivery manager role to my job. I’ve been able to raise the bar for my reports, just like I’m consistently raising the bar for myself. I constantly look back and say how am I going to do better next time. Through service delivery I lead a team internally to think like that too. That’s been really, really exciting. 

Think: What do you find satisfying/exciting about the work at Think, and the people at Think? 

I think the level of talent at Think is exciting to be around because you are constantly needed to learn and grow to keep up. I know I’ve already improved as a PM significantly since day one because of this. 

Think: What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back 5 years?   

Good question! I would remind myself that I don’t know everything. I think the younger you are in your career, the more you think you know, so when people give you advice or critique something, you aren’t always as open as you should be. I also tell myself to trust the process – and have more patience. The way I see things isn’t how everyone sees them. Sometimes letting events unfold rather than push for immediate results gives more success, because everyone is onboard and we get across the line together. 

Think: what impact has AI had on your role and what impact do you see for the future?  

AI has been a great tool in helping me refine client deliverables and quickly onboard myself to client needs. The meeting summaries have been a godsend! It can be hard to run a meeting, take notes, and be able to absorb everything that is being said in order to have a healthy dialogue back and forth. I think in the future AI will continue to help PMs stay more organized. I can see there’s a potential negative – if we allow AI to replace too much brain power – but I think PMing has so much interpersonal relationships and stakeholder management that, while AI will support what we do, AI will not replace us. Sometimes you need someone to bring a sense of calm more than a machine to make you a timeline. 


If your project is in peril, and you want to talk to Rebecca or one of the team, submit the form below for a confidential phone call at your convenience.