Darron Clark

Darron Clark



BOOKS REVIEWED BY KIRKUS:

Pub Date:
ISBN: 978-0-692-15381-9
Page count: 502pp

A comprehensive study guide for the Project Management Professional certification exam. 

The PMP test has increasingly become recognized as a standard barometer of basic professional competence in the project management field; in fact, most firms won’t even grant interviews to candidates for senior positions without the certification. However, the exam is dauntingly long and exhaustive, covering a dizzying breadth of complex topics. Clark (Be the Smartest in the Classroom EMBA, 2017) aims to make this preparatory guidebook, now in its sixth edition, relevant to as many readers as possible. It begins with the most elementary concepts—the author even provides a definition of “projects”—and moves on to discussions of more advanced topics, such as project phases and data-gathering techniques. The structure of the book, according to the author, is meant to pedagogically mirror the “way we naturally learn,” making use of “diagrams, repetition, and exam questions.” To that end, he supplies hundreds of sample questions and countless visuals, including flowcharts, check sheets, and Pareto diagrams, as well as two mock PMP practice exams. The manual focuses on both information technology infrastructure and technical project management, and it expertly provides synoptic introductions to both, replete with “exam alerts,” or tips regarding what might appear on the PMP test. Clark furnishes a description of each of 49 project management processes and teaches basic budget-monitoring techniques, as well as how to use of basic project-scheduling tools. There’s a considerable amount of mathematics on the test—some of it fairly challenging—but the author slowly walks readers through it all, clarifying the trickier questions that may arise. He also lucidly translates an abridged dictionary of technical terminology. Overall, it’s a truly authoritative preparatory tool.

A thorough, user-friendly manual, teeming with insider tips. 

Pub Date:
ISBN: 978-1-5455-0898-5
Page count: 282pp

A manager who aced an Executive MBA program delivers a debut workbook to steer others through the arduous process of earning this advanced degree.

This volume seeks to serve a growing need in today’s economy, in which individuals who want to earn an MBA degree can’t always afford to leave behind their full-time jobs—and paychecks—to go back to school. More people are choosing an Executive MBA program, offered by universities that allow part-time and even remote study toward an MBA. Clark’s ambitious manual aims to give students a primer on the skills they’ll need to succeed in a typical EMBA class. The author also presents his business credentials: he has 30 years of experience as a manager and executive in the computer technology industry for “real estate companies, financial institutions, entertainment organizations, glass companies, and telecommunications entities.” His book’s first chapter, “How to Participate in Online Classes,” makes clear how attending a virtual class is different from taking an in-person one—a lesson that folks who haven’t been in school for a few years will likely need. From there, Clark advises readers on how to communicate effectively, write typical business analyses, and collaborate on group projects. The most valuable advice appears in Chapter 2, in which he explains how to structure paragraphs for academic writing. He references the “PIE” method (point, illustration, and explanation) to show students how to build an informative paragraph sentence by sentence. While a typical workbook would stop there, the guide goes on to include actual copies of the author’s completed school assignments from his own EMBA. Clark even lists the grades he received, despite the fact that his knowledge comes across authoritatively throughout the book. Since the author reproduces his class assignments verbatim, those sections tend to be long and distracting, undermining the good example he’s trying to set by providing them. In fact, more than half of the volume’s pages are copies of his assignments. He admits up front that they contain syntactical and grammatical errors, but readers will likely find it difficult to ignore mistakes in the text. While Clark’s business acumen shines brightly, some readers may wonder whether this manual will apply to all EMBA programs.

An information-packed glimpse into one executive’s journey to an EMBA.