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BTC Dives Deep To Keep Seattle Aquarium’s Ambitious Projects On Schedule

The Seattle Aquarium is a renowned conservation organization that works to regenerate the health of our oceans. It works with global leaders to advance animal well-being, conduct field conservation, and educate the public on the benefits of our one-world ocean. The aquarium also supports marine and ecosystem science and collaborates with policymakers on public policy, so to say its mission is important is an understatement.

Kat Willson is the Vice President of Marketing, Communications, and Public Relations for the Seattle Aquarium. Her hardworking team inspires awe, empathy, and conservation — and they have a full roster of projects to show for it.

Kat’s team previously used Wrike to manage these projects, but the platform lacked the features they needed to work effectively. She and her team put in the sweat equity to migrate from Wrike to But then the team hit an unexpected hiccup: Kat’s project manager received an offer for a dream job and had to leave on very short notice.

At this point, Kat had a pipeline of nearly a hundred projects, a planned new project management tool, and no project manager. She needed help ASAP to develop team-wide competence and keep the aquarium’s marketing pipeline moving with

The Goal: Quickly Lay the Foundation for Momentum

Some of Seattle Aquarium’s marketing tasks, like small print jobs, were simple one-offs. But tasks like website updates, online events, or multi-day fundraising events required a lot of work. To complicate matters, some projects only needed one team member, but most required multiple team members in the department, contributors from other departments, and sometimes fractional outside firms.

Kat needed someone to fill in as a project manager and quickly train her team members on the ins and outs of using — all without dropping the ball on their very busy project schedule.

Needing help, Kat contacted and asked for partner recommendations. After realizing the urgency of the aquarium’s challenges, recommended Beyond the Chaos® (BTC) as a trusted partner who could start immediately.

The Tactics: Fine-Tuning Skills and Processes

Kat connected with Allison Hendrickson, Chaos Killer, at BTC to hit the ground running. This engagement was the first time Seattle Aquarium had worked with a project management partner, but Kat was eager for expert help.

The goal was to keep the aquarium’s busy roster of projects moving forward in a way that allowed the team to focus not on managing the projects, but on the work itself.

Interviews and Process Documentation

Kat appreciated that BTC sat down and listened to her needs before offering suggestions. BTC interviewed marketing team members to learn about the Seattle Aquarium, their roles, and what they needed most from their project management tool.

BTC then asked Kat and the marketing team to consider the deeper “why” behind their current processes. Seattle Aquarium found more opportunities to optimize its workflows and boost efficiency by focusing on what mattered most. From there, BTC helped Kat’s team create process documentation for greater clarity.


Seattle Aquarium had already migrated most of its projects from Wrike to But while can work wonders, it isn’t magic. BTC put to work, using its many features. Collaborating with the marketing team, BTC created a readymade portfolio of new templates for the Seattle Aquarium to pull from going forward.

“BTC was standing us up on our feet to be able to handle the workload. It was like having a full-time combination project manager and trainer helping us. It was invaluable,” Kat says.


But BTC knew that processes and platforms alone wouldn’t help the Seattle Aquarium succeed. That’s why BTC set up both planned and ad hoc training via Teams to educate the marketing staff on the ins and outs of

BTC also built an onboarding project for the new project manager the aquarium planned to hire. This way, the PM could quickly get up to speed on the new processes without the steep learning curve. BTC even helped Kat screen candidates to find the perfect project manager for the job and suggested lines of questioning during interviews to assess candidates and their ability to not only manage the department projects, but also support the team members and their individual needs.

The Results: Fin-Tastic Project Management

This was money well spent. If you are backfilling for a missing project management resource or are in need of staff training for the platform, the experts at BTC can help you keep moving forward and skill up quickly. We consider the BTC expert who helped us an honorary member of our team and will be forever grateful for her help when we needed it the most.

Kat Willson, VP Marketing, Communications & Public Relations

Nine months into its adoption the Seattle Aquarium’s marketing team members were proficient in “We routinely have 90+ projects in the queue on any given day. BTC quite literally saved our team from failure,” Kat says.

Thanks to BTC’s expert help, the aquarium onboarded a new PM in record time. The onboarding template gave the new project manager the confidence to handle the new workload gracefully and make a positive impact from the start.

“It was money well spent,” Kat says of her experience with BTC. She advises other business leaders to ask for help when it’s necessary. Providers like BTC are here to fill in missing project management resources so your business can keep moving. “We consider the BTC expert who helped us an honorary member of our team and will be forever grateful for her help when we needed it the most,” Kat adds.

If you’re looking for creative ways to keep your business’s projects on schedule, schedule a meeting today!