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Is Project Management an Accidental Profession?

Strategy

In preparation for writing this blog, I did some research and an article came across my attention: 5 Attributes of a Great Project Manager. After reading the article, I determined that nearly every successful Project Manager I have met throughout my career possesses almost every attribute listed. Upon further reflection and research, I even got to laughing because personally I have always been this way. Not just in work, but in my home life as well. The girls’ camping trip meeting, where I showed up with a pen and paper in hand and delegated tasks to all of my friends. How I make my kids’ lunches the day before and have everything organized and ready to ensure that the morning runs smoothly. The way I compartmentalize my life into silos—work, kids, home, friends. How I have checklists for every single thing in my life, whether it be in my head or on paper. My friends and family often tease me about my “Type A” personality.

In addition to the attributes listed, Project Managers can also be described as:

  • Organized
  • Type A
  • Detail-oriented
  • Leaders
  • Good listeners
  • Fair and balanced
  • Always with a pen and paper handy.

I started wondering—how do Project Managers get into project management? I reflected back on my own career and really, it happened by accident. I started out in customer service and realized that a new call ticketing system was needed. So I took it upon myself to spearhead the effort and it was a success. After that, more and more special projects came up and I handled them on time and on budget, and was able to delegate. So I was approached to take on the title of Project Manager and continued using my “natural abilities” for over 10 years before coming to Piehead, where I am now the Team Lead of Project Management.

Of course, all the personality traits that were listed are great ones to have if you are looking to get into project management. However they are not necessary. The great thing about project management as a career is that there are a plethora of classes you can take to hone your skills and give you essential tools for managing a successful project, such as learning how to mitigate project risk and how to easily identify scope creep. Project Managers can also earn credits for classes and achieve their much-respected certification with the Project Management Institute (PMI).

If you read through the list of attributes and thought, “hey, that’s me!” then maybe deep down you’re already a project manager and you don’t even know it.

Comments on this Article: 1

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  1. Kristen,
    First, you need to be very careful of the marketing hype put forward by organizations such as PMI or IPMA or APM et al. According to credible research published in the HBR, MANAGEMENT is not a profession. (See http://hbr.org/2010/07/the-big-idea-no-management-is-not-a-profession/ar/1 or http://hbr.org/2011/09/management-a-profession-wheres-the-proof/ar/1.

    And there are not one, but TWO published research papers showing that project management is also not a profession. (Here is link to the short version- http://www.mpug.com/News/Pages/Is-Project-Management-a-Profession.aspx)

    And what you may find interesting is John Suermondt, Dr. Dan Harrison and I have been conducting behavioral profiling of “successful” project managers and have identified 7 attributes which have proven 90% RELIABLE in predicting those people who are likely to “succeed” as project managers. http://pmworldjournal.net/?article=using-behavioral-profiling-to-identify-successful-project-managers

    Bottom line, if you dig a bit more, I think you will find a lot more information out there to help you explore what we both agree is an interesting and important subject.

    BR,
    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia
    http://www.build-project-management-competency.com

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