The question: how do I move beyond project management?
I am an IT project manager and have been in the industry for 12 years. I have experience of ERP systems, software tools, government work and most recently in the finance sector, all with a focus on software development. My past positions include development, implementation, training, business analysis and project management.
My question is where to go from project manager and how to get there? I see people in business analyst, development and project management roles who are aged 35 to 50 with no visible desire to advance. Although I am only 30 and have only a meaningless associates' degree, I would really like to understand the road map.
It is a curious fact that many people are threatened by the success of others. With you, this seems particularly highlighted by your "time" speech. You are right to plan your next few moves. It is essential for anyone who wants to take control of their career and drive it forward.
There were some statistics that suggested that less than 15% of Global 2000 firms have formal leadership-development programs, and less than 2% have organised processes for developing the business skills of their technical staff.
The highfliers of the industry have got where they are by spotting the gaps in the market and devising creative strategies, understanding their company's business and how to harness new technology to achieve better performance. You could look at either a degree or a masters - hard work but very worthwhile. A colleague recently did a three-month business course at Cranfield and found the experience invaluable.
Still the best way forward for me is the certification route. It is a differentiator and where the course is appropriate and of real value to you and your employers. The director's role within a company is not for everyone. You almost need to decide where you want to be at the end of your career and work backwards. What is your real motivation? You will need to get a strong enterprise-wide perspective and evaluate what you are willing to invest personally. You could go for technical consultant in an ERP arena, but I still maintain that business knowledge and the ability to convey technology to the layman is paramount.
Solution by Tracey Abbott, permanent sales manager at Square One
This was first published in January 2008