Nepalese Procurement Specialist Discovers Project Management Essentials at UCSC Extension


- Mahesh Pokharel, Alumnus

Term : September, 2016
Department : Business and Management
Program : Project and Program Management

Before he moved to California, Mahesh Pokharel worked as a procurement specialist at a United Nations development program called Local Governance and Community Development Program for almost five years in his native Nepal. He worked for more than 10 years for The World Bank and Asian Development Bank funded projects in Nepal. In 2015, he decided that he wanted to study the latest approaches to project management in the heart of Silicon Valley. His search for the right program lead him to UCSC Extension’s Project and Program Management certificate, which he completed in summer 2016 while interning for a local nonprofit.

What inspired you to come to Silicon Valley?

In my previous job I oversaw contract management and procurement, which I see as a component of project management. In Nepal, this profession is very important, but it is hard to find employees with the appropriate knowledge, experience and background. I wanted to have more knowledge about project and program management, and I wanted to study within the UC network. UCSC Extension is located in Silicon Valley, which is home to a number of world-famous companies, many of which are dedicated to high technology. I really wanted to gain some US work experience.

What courses stood out to you?

“Project Procurement: Outsourcing and Contract Management” was especially relevant to me, because my background is in procurement for international development partners and NGOs. “Principles of Business Analysis” was great too, as were core courses such as “Applied Project Management” and “Project Integration and Risk Management.” The “Managing Projects with Microsoft Project” was also an excellent class, because it taught the importance of project planning. Without a schedule, we cannot make a proper plan, mitigate risks or recognize project milestones. These courses were helpful for project implementation.

I really appreciated the teaching and learning environment at UCSC Extension. When you come here, you find yourself a little more motivated to study and accomplish more. The people here are very cooperative and very nice.

How were you able to apply skills learned in class to your internship?

I interned for a local nonprofit, where I did grant writing, project implementation, and checked contract compliances. I was able to implement a lot of the skills from my courses to the internship. Procurement is a universal skill; you can apply it to any industry. Project planning is very relevant to the work I was doing.

What have you gained from the program?

I got my UC certificate, which is recognized throughout the world. I also gained hand-on skills during my internship. I made friends and expanded my professional network, which is very important to me. I know this certificate will be very valuable to me because it will help me find a better job.

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