Paula Saarinen
Senior Director
Quick facts
Has advised clients on every phase of software and IT projects and programs from strategy and business case development to running application support organizations
Main areas of expertise reside within IT and software product development and in leading people, processes, technology and adoption in both technical and non-technical programs
Specializes in quickly assessing and turning around challenged projects
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Issues in IT programs often result from an imbalance of focus between people, processes and technology. Start with people and process; technology will follow.
Paula Saarinen, a Senior Director with Alvarez & Marsal Corporate Performance Improvement in San Francisco, is an experienced consultant within the utilities, communications, high-tech, wireless, electronics, pharmaceuticals, retail, media and entertainment and life sciences industries.

With 13 years of experience, Ms. Saarinen has advised clients on every phase of software / IT project and program management from strategy and business case development to running application support organizations, including turnaround of challenged projects. Her expertise resides within CRM applications, web portals, custom applications, mobile applications, SaaS, SAP, technical architecture, data conversion, and application integration.

At A&M, Ms. Saarinen led cost optimization efforts at a large utility, focusing on IT application and personnel costs, as well as software, hardware and service contract cost optimization. Programs she executed resulted in $27 million of capital and operating expense cost reductions.

Before A&M, M. Saarinen was assigned to turnaround a delayed and over budget $6 million program that delivered system capabilities to expand online sales of a large retailer in two countries. She led the integration test phase and production of several concurrent releases with multiple teams from different vendors. The program was completed on schedule and within budget, with a successful launch to customers.

Ms. Saarinen also managed a portfolio of system development projects and programs for a pharmaceutical distributor. She coordinated activities across teams of five to 50 members that included remote, offshore and external resources; managed project plans, milestones, budgets, resources, risks, phase gates and communications; developed and managed monthly forecasts and drove cost- effective delivery; mentored other project and program managers; and managed to a $1.5 million budget. Projects were completed on schedule within budget.

In addition, Ms. Saarinen developed Enterprise Web 2.0 collaboration and networking, and mobility strategies for the 5,000 employees for a life sciences company.

Previously, she served as a manager for Accenture, focusing on CRM processes / applications and business support systems and programs. Notable assignments include: leading the design and implementation of a Siebel-based customer and order management system for a new mobile virtual network operator in the U.S.; leading HR-related projects for a top Silicon Valley firm; designing a new sales management system for a high-tech company in China; and developing a major ordering system overhaul at a European communications firm.

Ms. Saarinen earned a master of science in marketing from the University of Tampere, Finland and a master’s of business administration from the University of Oregon. She is a certified ScrumMaster, and holds a PMP certification from PMI, as well as a Siebel certification. She is fluent in Finnish, conversational in Spanish, German, French and Swedish, and speaks basic Mandarin Chinese.