Journey through a career in project-management in IT services (W-Tech

proj-man.jpgSpeaker: Stephanie Small

Stephanie Small from Hewlett-Packard (HP) is going to take us on journey through a career in project management in this session – a career she admits she fell into, but nevertheless has really enjoyed! Stephanie is a career-changer, who started out in the airforce, but was forced to look for a new career when she began a family, thanks to (now-extinct) rules.

(Around now my laptop battery finally went flat… So the rest is post-blogged from my notes taken at the event…)

Stephanie’s presentation was essentially an introduction to starting and building a career in project management.

What makes a good project manager?

  • Emotional, managerial and intellectual competencies. 
  • Some clients will prefer candidates with domain knowledge.
  • Leadership skills – it’s no good just putting a project plan up on Sharepoint – you need to inspire people to stick to it!
  • Project methodology knowledge helps in what is now a competitive market.
  • Understanding your own skill set – some people are better at starting up projects, others at pulling them together to completion; similarly, some revel in complex projects, so it makes sense for them to seek those out.

What are the key factors to think about when considering whether project managment suits you?

  • In project management, you never stop learning something new.
  • You’ll generally have to balance the needs of two customers at all times: the client, and your company.
  • Expect the unexpected!
  • Project management is about people and processes more than technical knowledge (although a bit of that doesn’t hurt), so…
  • …good communications and interpersonal skills are the key to succes.

What is project management not about?

The Apprentice! The ‘project manager’ role on the tv show isn’t really project management – it’s just task management. True project management is much wider ranging, and needs a broader set of leadership skills than some of The Apprentice candidates exhibit!

Should you take a course in project management?

Academic study is useful, although it’s practical experience that you’ll really need to get that first – or next –  job. However, getting the training under your belt helps as there’s a lot of competition, as most people will be qualified. Plus the courses will give you the language of a project manager.

Practical tips on getting practical project management experience before you get the job

  • Secondments – in large organisations, you can try requesting a secondment to project work.
  • Project support services – working in a project office in a role such as risk management or scheduling can give you vital experience and an opportunity to see how the whole project team operates.
  • Volunteering – don’t undersell the experience you’ve gained in voluntary proejcts, for example, running the drive to get your local Scout Hut refurbished.
  • Smaller projects – try asking to run small in-house projects that are lower risk.

What project management networks can you join?

The PMI, APM and BCS project management specialist group are all good places to start.

How do I move from a technical project management role to a business-focussed one?

Most companies are already looking at project management from a business perspective, but if yours isn’t yet, try to find a mentor who can help you to learn about or shadow business/commercial aspects, such as project finances, contract negotiations, and so on.

Where next after a project management role?

  • Stay as a project manager – many people love the daily buzz of the job.
  • Take on larger projects.
  • Programme management (managing a number of projects that form a bigger programme).
  • Business leadership roles.


Pink alert! We were also treated to a brief glimpse of the video of HP’s ‘fashion meets technology’ pink Vivienne Tam netbook – one of only two ‘pink’ items I saw on the day (the other was a butterfly on the cover of Suzanne Doyle-Morris’ book…)


time-quality-cost.gifFinal tip on career management for project managers – and others – remember that the time, cost, quality triangle isn’t just a project management principle, it’s a career management one too! Time and effort / cost are needed to achieve the quality! 

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I just started an I.T course and am a graduate of Business Administration hoping to major in Project management in the course of my Masters Degree. kindly advice. Thanks.

Very well define role of Project Manager.