Hi folks! Welcome back to the Devant blog!
In this post, we will discuss the growing world of Project Management (PM). To start, what is PM? It is the process of leading a team to complete group goals efficiently while meeting all pre-determined criteria like finances, timelines, and resources. An integral piece in many organizations, PM roles have stood the test of time. In fact, PM roles across industries have continued to rise in 2020 (as seen in the graph below).
Project managers can work in many sectors, which means that their projects may range from building a city’s next school to developing a great application for your phone. We see the need for project managers across industries as technology grows quicker, workplaces become remote, and projects become more diverse. Check out the graph below to see just how varied PM roles can be.
A Word from Amin
Here are his insights to help grow your career in PM:
Devant: Let’s start with your career journey. Can you talk about what you’re doing now in the PM space, and what led up to where you are in your career today?
Amin: I was first exposed to project management, as an electronics engineer, from the perspective of a technical team member working in the systems analysis space. As my interest grew, I shadowed coworkers and took on small PM tasks to learn more about the field. I also built up my credentials by taking continuing education courses.
After a couple of organizational changes and gaining lots more experience, I founded Execute Strategy. We are a consulting firm that helps organizations achieve more by automating work through the implementation of work management tools and best practices.
Devant: How would you strike the balance between technical and soft skills as a project manager?
Amin: A PM role requires a well-balanced skill set between technical and soft skills. My biggest piece of advice for young professionals is to identify what gaps lie in both areas. The path to project management can vary, so it’s important to analyze your individual needs to identify the areas that need more attention.
As we learn more about emotional intelligence and critical thinking, higher ed institutions and organizations can and should aim to teach these skills in a meaningful way (even in technical programs). If you chose the soft skills route and are looking to move to a more technical role, then consider what technical skills can help you get there. The challenge lies in this transition.
Devant: What is your take on continued learning in a growing field like PM?
Amin: For myself and for my staff, I like to break it down into the three Es of learning.
- Experience – Ask yourself: what you can improve at your current educational institute or job? Even if you aren’t enrolled or are looking for a job, consider other ways to add experience to your portfolio. For example, connecting with working professionals, or joining industry-related associations.
- Exposure – The focus here is to do the job that you want (not necessarily the job you have). Try shadowing other team members, conducting informational interviews, assisting other departments, taking on smaller projects, and seeking a mentor. Putting yourself in a position to visualize your future career goals gives you an idea of where your strengths lie, what you enjoy working on, and gaps that should be addressed.
- Education – The idea of lifelong learning is the new normal. There are two major areas to consider: formal and informal education. Formal education primarily includes taking courses and obtaining a certificate or degree. Informal education is using all the resources around you to learn, such as reading relevant articles, keeping up with industry trends, attending webinars and workshops, taking MOOC classes, and much more. In the new world of work, ongoing learning is the new currency.
Devant: Is PM specific to a career in itself, or is it a skill set valued by most employers?
Amin: One important skillset that is central to PM work is work management. Work management is the ability to plan, manage, and report on work – both finite and on-going work – is a foundational skill valued by most employers.
All roles and employers are seeking individuals with work management skills. Organizations are also looking for individuals who can bring efficiencies in their work by leveraging technology that automates. This way companies can hire fewer people to do the same work. Individuals who can demonstrate work management skills using technology are seen as “A” players.
Devant: Finally, I want to bring it back to 2020. What are some PM trends you’re seeing now and what can we expect for the upcoming years?
Amin: One of the main shifts in the role of the project manager is Artificial Intelligence (AI). According to Gartner, by 2030, 80% of PM tasks will be done using AI. As a project manager, think about how your role will change with the advent of AI. Automate repetitive and mundane tasks so that you can focus on work that requires more human skills such as critical thinking, creativity, innovation, and communications.
Most project managers focus on the data (the “what”). Technology can give you the data. You need to use your human skills to focus on the story the data is telling. Consider how you would tackle the “so what” question and how you can use the data to move your project forward.
Lastly, is the advent of work management and the tools and technologies surrounding this space. Some of these tools include Smartsheet, monday.com, and Wrike. These tools are simple to use (often don’t require any coding) and come at a low cost.
What to learn more?
If you are considering a career in PM, reach out to our Career Coach Sejal Ahir for a free consultation on developing your career plan.
On the other hand, if you’re interested in what Amin and his team have to offer, feel free to check out their website, Execute Strategy.