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Your Ultimate Guide to Be The Best Project Manager

Being a Project Manager

Why Do You Want to Be a Project Manager?

Before you think about taking up project manager as a career progression option, you should also know why you would like to be a project manager. Your reason could be

  • To have better job security
  • Get higher salary and be paid more
  • Make career progression faster
  • Like challenging job that exert control over resources, cost and deliver value to customers, stakeholders
  • Gain more visibility in front of executive management by presenting executive reports, dashboard

You can also read some of these interesting stories by real world project managers shared at PMI forum - why did they become project managers.

How to become a project manager?

Once you decide your career choice is to become a project manager, you should know how you can become one. Given your current work profile, you should check what options and alternatives do you have? Broadly speaking there are two approaches to get into project management profession

Utilizing domain expertise

If one look at project managers in many enterprises, you will realize that they are experienced and have taken up project management role by virtue of their expertise in respective domain. And this has been a common phenomenon for years. Organizations wanted to utilize experience of their engineers, engineering managers (or likewise) couple with expertise and knowledge to meet organization's objective in terms of project delivery.

So this approach of getting into project management career involves earning academic degree, university degree, and then years of experience in a given domain, proven track record in managing stipulated work. And then as these people move up in ladder, they have been given responsibility to manage & deliver projects.

Sometimes your organization can provide you project management training or you can subscribe for project management training on your own like these courses, seminar around project management training are provided by American Management Institute

Formal Project Management Education

The skillset, capabilities required to manage project are pretty broad. Many academic institutions have realized the popularity of project management professionals, especially project managers. Hence institutes like Post, Excite, Chartered Institute of Project Management and many such project management certification options available to you. Nowadays we can see young faces for project leadership positions. There are graduation and post-graduation degrees offered by institutes. Graduates, post-graduates once get these degree can take up project management positions like project analyst, project leader, project planner, project manager, etc depending on the hiring organization and student's past experience.


Previous post 'Being Project Manager -I' will help aspiring project manager in understanding of career choice: "To be a project manager", reasons to become a project manager, and how he/she can become one. This post briefs about how one can work on career path of becoming a project manager and understand typical expectations from a project manager.

Improving your chances of becoming a Project Manager

As I mentioned earlier, until recently organizations have been looking for previous project management, leadership experience only for the role of Project Manager. Things are changing now. If a given candidate has work experience in a given domain, and if he has gone through Project Management Training, and/ or graduation in project management, and/ or certifications, companies are considering these candidate for project leader/ project manager position.

Those who have domain experience have done project management training, and are without project management experience, or those who have academic/university degree of project management, can look for internship, placement in project management related activities. They can also take up volunteer work or build upon their existing work-profile such that they can get project management experience; it will help you in improving your chances for applying project management position and becoming a project manager. You can also talk to project managers, program managers, and portfolio managers in your organization. You should hear their experience, expectations; look for their guidance about career move as a project manager.

 Of course, it is needless to say that when you will apply for project manager or related positions, you will have to build and present your resume in such a way that it will reflect your academics, work experience, training, certification, volunteer work in project management like PM-Volunteer or search charity jobs. Your excellence in all of these aspects, coupled with your desire to live the project management role should be highlighted in your cv (sample of project manager's cv).


Being a Project Manager

Let's see what it takes to be a project manager – personality traits, skillset required to fulfill the expectation of this role.

  • Have ability to plan well, have realistic schedule, with a focus on details of delivery
  • Good understanding of organization culture, using knowledge of the same in positive force
  • Good communicator
  • Good negotiator and Influencer
  • A good team leader, drives team to deliver their best for project and takes everyone along through the journey
  • Be able to work under pressure with varied expectations, yet be effective in time management
  • Manage cases of conflicts and resolve amicably

Typical Job Profile of a Project Manager

If we speak of job profile of project manager, in a broader sense following things are expected from him/her

  • Plan project in terms of schedule (timeline), cost, quality and resources
  • Identify right resources (skillset, availability) and delegate work appropriately
  • Regularly track project progress, assist and guide project team
  • Present project progress to project sponsors, customer and senior manager

One role, different (and unending expectations)

One aspect to be noted here is, this are generalized expectation from project manager. Depending on your industry, organization and size of the project there will can various different consideration, trade-off that project managers need to do e.g. the project manager in Information Technology can have deeper technical involvement than that of project manager for creative design project.

It is needless to say that for a project manager, every day, every minute surprises can be waiting for him. A transition of being just a project manager to the great project manager is quite a journey and it needs careful understanding of every project situation now & in future, getting things done from team such that their aspirations are nurtured in line with meeting project's (& in turn organization's) objectives,  skillfully communicating and setting clear expectations among stakeholders, if required taking support & guidance from senior management to get around difficult situation and save them from unpleasant surprises.

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