UCSC Extension in Silicon Valley offered the students in its Project Management classes the opportunity to enter a competition to write a blog for SVprojectmanagement.com. The prize for the top three entries was to be published on this site. All the students in the Project Leadership and Communication class of regular blogger and UCSC Extension instructor, Alan Tsuda, took up the challenge. The top three chose diverse topics from how to “BLUF” your way through a project to the advantages of a yoga approach and ending with thoughts on what there is to love about being a project manager.
Note: SVProjectmanagement.com invites new and experienced project and program managers to share their insights. If you feel you would like to contribute your thoughts to this blog, please contact the blog coordinator and include a sample of your writing.
Here is our last winning entry…
Why I Like Being a Project Manager – Really!
At various times in my career people have asked why I like being a project manager. It seems some view this role with trepidation – you are on the spot all the time, a single false move could seriously damage your program, and you tend to live in constant fear (which by the way is an excellent motivator!). So here are my thoughts.
You Control your own Destiny: When you are the leader, you chart the course, rather than follow someone else you may not agree with. If you’ve ever worked under a project manager whose strategy you don’t buy into, you’ll know what I’m talking about. So now it’s your turn to make good. Does anyone remember when President Bush 41 said “I do not like broccoli…. I’m President of the United States and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.” Maybe he had a little project manager attitude in him?
It Feels Good when you Succeed: There’s tremendous satisfaction for a project leader when your program is successful. Nothing beats getting the job done on time and under budget while meeting the initial requirements of the project. And if you like this type of satisfaction, don’t worry, more is coming. Have you ever heard the saying “the reward for good work is more work?” This is very true in the world of project management.
It Feels Even Better when your Team Succeeds: Like a proud parent sending his children off to college, nothing feels better than setting your project team members up for success. I’ve always felt a good project manager empowers his team to do the right thing so the project succeeds and the team grows in the process. The rewards will come back to you over and over when your best players want to work with you again. And it also helps when they write nice things about you on LinkedIn.
If you like Exposure, this Job is for you: Some people like to work with a searing hot beam of light focused on them all the time. Others are more content working in the shadows. If you fall into the first category, this job is for you! But do remember, this level of attention does come with a price, like getting called into your VP’s office at 5:30 on a Friday afternoon to provide an update on your project. Or having to be online all weekend or late in the evening to manage progress with international teams. I guess all’s fair in love, war, and project management.
These Skills are Transferrable: An experienced project manager can move between companies (or between functions within a company) if you have the right combination of technical and project management skills. I’ve seen it happen to me moving from Operations to Services. If it could happen to me it could happen to anyone. This is great insurance in a down economy.
It’s Just Plain Fun: Do you like technology? Do you like working with people rather than working alone? Do you enjoy the challenges of communicating in a multi-cultural environment? Are you the type who likes to come to the rescue when things aren’t going well? If you answered yes to the questions above, project management is probably right for you. Either that or being a paramedic or fire fighter!
You can do this at Home Too: Whether building a deck in your backyard, planning a room addition, or a family vacation, your project management skills can also keep you organized in your personal life. But don’t go hog wild on home improvement projects – you still have an 80 hour a week job leading projects at work!
So those of you reading this on the UCSC Project Management website probably don’t need to be convinced why project management is a really cool thing to do. But maybe someone is visiting this site for the first time and happens to stumble across this blog. It is for you that I say “give it a try, test the waters.” You may be pleasantly surprised…. but be careful what you wish for!
Larry Klein has 20+ years experience in Support, Operations, and Product Development. He’s currently serving as a Manager of Customer Escalations at Extreme Networks in Santa Clara, responsible for resolving difficult business and technical problems at high profile, at-risk accounts. He has strong Operations and Product Development experience to work cross functionally for resolving customer issues. He’s also an experienced people and project manager.