Starting a career in project management
Project management is a dynamic field that operates in unpredictable working environments and creates a variety of challenges. If you’re drawn to this kind of job culture and have been considering a career transition, there are several things you should know before you decide to embark on your journey to become a project manager.
Traditional project management fields
Managing projects was always a part of industries like manufacturing or construction, particularly within the fields of architecture and civil engineering where project managers would be responsible for coordinating the work of designers and consultants, maintaining communication with clients, as well as managing schedules, budgets and quality control.
From the very beginning the job of a project manager was based on multitasking: managing largescale construction projects would involve not only a great deal of organisational skills, but communication and risk management competencies.
New fields for project managers
The field of project management developed further to include areas like software engineering, where project managers share the majority of their skills with their traditional counterparts in construction and engineering. More often than not, however, a software project manager will have a firm grasp on software development and hold a qualification in information technology or computer science.
Other more recent jobs that involve project management are event planning, real-estate development, healthcare, the legal sector and many more. Apart from IT and construction, some of the sectors that will continue to hire project managers include the aerospace and defence industry, the energy industry (also renewable and solar energy), financial services and government.
Key skills of a project manager
Project management is a lucrative kind of job, but it comes at a price: delivering projects in increasingly complex environments requires solid stress management techniques and excellent organisational skills. In transitioning to project management, you’ll absolutely need to possess the following skills:
- Interpersonal and leadership: As a project manager, you’ll need to establish the future direction of development and share it with others. You also need to keep teams working together effectively and motivate team members to do their best in delivering the project.
- Organisation: After leadership, this is a key feature of every successful project manager. You’ll be responsible for organising and coordinating activities of others, making it clear to every team member what is expected of them.
- Communication: To do your job well, you’ll need to be a great communicator. You’re the project’s figurehead, so you’ll be the one responsible for communicating its development to clients and stakeholders, writing progress reports, and encouraging your team members to share your vision and belief in the project’s success.
- Time management: This is an important skill that will allow you to accurately prioritise your responsibilities, as well as respect the time of your team members and, for instance, organising quick and efficient briefings and meetings.
- Foresight in planning: You’ll need to understand well that all projects are unique or subject to different risks and, accordingly, you must be able to make sensible predictions for the project’s future and have a good grasp of how potential problems might affect your project’s success.
- Negotiation: You must be able to work with professionals of different sectors and achieve a joint agreement with all of them.
- Analytical thinking: As a project manager, you will be confronted with large clusters of chaotic data so you’ll need strong analytical skills to be able to get a sense from them.
What skills do you think are most essential?