Courtney C. Black, RCA, is a Senior Project Manager at HAYSTACKID. She has earned her stripes both within the industry and at the company thanks to her unmatched desire and ability to learn, improve, and lead.
Courtney started at the ground-level in the eDiscovery industry directly after completing her higher education, which was around the time paper was still king but began to give way to the digital era. This experience gives her a unique perspective on the industry, especially as she effectively worked her way up the ladder to become a Senior Project Manager as the market was reaching new levels of maturity.
Throughout her career, Courtney has consistently exhibited her unequivocal passion to conquer every imaginable obstacle this exceedingly challenging industry can possibly present. One could look the industry over and it would be difficult to find a more dedicated, driven Project Manager than Courtney.
This week, we took the time to interview Courtney as part of our Project Manager Spotlight series. In this first part, she discusses her career track and perspectives on certifications within the industry.
HAYSTACKID: Good morning Courtney, thank you for your time.
Courtney: Good morning, and thank you for yours!
Tell me a little about your career up until when you started at HAYSTACKID.
I guess it all began when Kevin Glass offered me a position at BLS.
I served in various positions there for about two years, and then moved into an office manager-type role, where I was helping a team with billing, administration, accounting, invoicing, and virtually all other tasks the job required.
Then, I stepped into more of a data analyst role. So, I was doing small processing projects, PDF conversions, very basic load files, and tasks of that sort. I grew from there, started working more with law and Relativity, and now I’m a Senior Project Manager.
When did you become a Senior Project Manager?
I became a Project Manager about halfway through 2013, and then moved into the Senior Project Manager role about a year after that.
What are your goals with HAYSTACKID and your career in this industry?
Well, I guess the big one would be to continue mastering every element of the industry. There are so many moving parts, such as technologies, techniques, processes, and more, in this industry, and I have really committed to learning as much as possible.
The most recent example is the forensics side of the business. I am looking to study and complete my EnCase certification. I’ve already begun to get involved in collections and the forensic elements of the job, and now I want to take the next step toward certified expertise in this arena.
Because I’m responsible for streamlining project processes from collections and forensics through final production and review, I need to understand and exhibit proficiency in every stage therein. Right now, I’d say my goal is to become an authority on every stage involved, and that will involve more extensive certification efforts surrounding forensics.
So, it really seems like this is yet another frontier you’re tackling. As in, you started at the ground level, worked your way up to being a Senior Project Manager, and now want to engage in the forensics side?
Absolutely. I would not say I’m in anyway bored with my current responsibilities. In fact, I love them, and they can be extremely challenging and fulfilling on a daily basis. However, since I have consistently learned and mastered all of these tasks and functions from the ground up since I began my career, it would not be my style to just stop now.
I want to learn more. I want to expand my specialties so that I can best serve my clients. I want to develop as a professional and be the best possible teammate to other people in the company. And, if you think about it, having a strong foundation in project management and the big picture matters it entails will give me a more unique angle and perspective when it comes to the forensics side of the business.
Well, you figure that right now I’m basically a conductor – I know how to orchestrate all of those instruments and quarterback projects because of my career to this point and what my general focus has been in the past few years.
Now, I’m looking to master each of those instruments. So, on one hand, I’ll become a better Project Manager as I learn those more specific, granular elements of the job. On the other hand, I’ll understand those granular elements on a deeper level because I know the context they fall within when it comes to projects and how all of the puzzle pieces need to fit together.
Plus, I have to mention that I am fascinated by digital forensics. This industry we operate within has a proverbial universe of moving parts, and I am committed to learning all of them, one step at a time. For me, the one that I’m most passionate about learning and mastering right now is forensics.
You mentioned EnCase earlier, do you have other certifications?
I do, I have my Relativity RCA – Certified Administrator – and then I also earned my Relativity Analytics certification.
What are your experiences with the certifications – have they added a lot of value?
Studying for and earning my RCA definitely helped me learn the platform a lot. Before I even started studying or thinking about getting my RCA, I was already about two years into working with Relativity on a daily basis. Obviously, that gave me a pretty big head start on the testing and studying, as I had become comfortable with the platform in a more organic fashion.
Then, we decided it would be good for the whole team to study together and receive that certification. I went for it and passed on my first try, which was definitely a great feeling.
Is it a tough test?
I mean, I suppose each person might have a different answer to that question. I know that plenty of people struggle with it. I know that plenty of people have failed it.
However, like I said, I had a significant advantage going in because I understood the platform on a deeper level thanks to my experience with it. Also, that work at the earlier stages of my career gave me, once again, a certain level of context and insight that played into my strong performance on that test. Don’t get me wrong – it was challenging, but from my perspective, I couldn’t say it was like a Mensa exam.
Understood. Are you happy you took the test, though?
Definitely. After studying and taking the test, I had an even better handle on the platform. There are certain elements that you don’t necessarily use on a daily basis, others that had been necessary rarely at best. However, Relativity has a ton of features, and you legitimately have to know all of them to pass that exam. It has already come in handy since passing the test, and I’m sure it will continue to help as time goes on.
Virtually any opportunity to learn more about the features and functions is good. Because I focus on really customizing and personalizing workflows, processes, and general project architecture, I have to possess a pretty well-rounded knowledge of this platform. For that reason, I’d say taking the exam was a very valuable experience.
Come back soon for the conclusion of our Project Manager Spotlight with Courtney Black! In the second segment, Courtney tells us more about her team, the industry, and which technological trends she envisions as being the most important to watch in the coming years.
Courtney C. Black is a Senior Project Manager at HAYSTACKID