Michael Cullen

Responsibilities: Cullen is director of the Program Management Office in the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Environmental Information (OEI), where he is responsible for establishing common infrastructure services that will support the federal enterprise architecture.

What makes him a good program manager: Cullen built support for the first PC-based, distributed national system in the EPA by articulating its value. "He is a guy [who] welcomes a strategy vision and the opportunity to turn it into a series of tactical successes," said Rick Martin, deputy director of OEI's Office of Information Analysis and Access. "He's always found innovative management solutions and technology solutions to get a job done. And he has a fabulous sense of humor."

How he ended up in the job: Cullen started as an environmental engineer in the private sector and "fell into" information technology project management. He has worked for the EPA for about 21 years, beginning in the Office of Water. Eventually, he was tapped to head the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Information System, which provides the public with information about hazardous waste sites.

Best advice received about program management: "Don't take on a job, don't make a promise, unless you can fulfill it," Cullen said. "You need to be serious about the commitment." It's also important to have a good team, supportive management and a concrete timeline. Good management is a mix of command and control, collaboration and cajoling, he said.

Best lesson learned on the job: A good attitude always helps because "things never work out the way you plan them," Cullen said. "Consistency springs from a good attitude. Do your best, but do it consistently."

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