Do you still want to be a Project Manager?

theunknownpm.JPGWould you do it again?  Is it time to stop?  For me I think the answer is I’d never have that kind of energy and chutzpah again, not for some random faceless corporate projects anyway, and yes, it’s time to stop.  So yeah, after hitting the glass ceiling both in terms of title and salary for this profession short of some high falutin’ overpromised and no doubt underdelivered consulting gig  I woke up one day and somehow knew this was my last program I’d deliver for the company.  It was instinctual. 

It was in the bones.  That was it.  So I’m going to have to fire myself and start an educational software company where well, I’m gonna have to bootstrap everything including doing all the initial business planning and development and funding and marketing and I’m thinking I’m loving it.  I’m so excited Do you ever wake up and just know a chapter is closed?  Program management is bittersweet.  I do believe after 20 years in the silicon valley it is by no means the most prestigious title I held however it was without a doubt the hardest sweat breaking finger nail biting chocolate eating humbling,  political jujitsuing, and yet routinely boring, frustrating, wildly fun and totally thankless job I’ve ever held  — all at the same time too.

Let’s face it line management rules.   Project management is for suckers.  In good conscious I could only advise any young person to take this job if they somehow didn’t have the proper degrees to advance otherwise.  Do you have only an art history degree?  Fine, this is great.  Get in while you still can, the doors are shutting.  Do you have a solid technical degree?  Well think very, very carefully then.  I should have.  Every manager, every engineer, will most likely second guess your every move at some point and honestly believe they could do it so much better no matter what a crack specialist you are.  Heck you’ll be constantly second guessing yourself too and appalled at some of the mistakes.  If you do manage to beat the odds and do a routinely fabulous job it will be others who benefit, you’ll just get more work.  Umm… am I just bitter?  Oh gosh, my dreams are coming true in life partly due to the project management skills so brutally learned.  No, I just can’t recommend the profession without carefully explaining the reality to those who have other choices and a future ahead of them.  Can you? 

That being said maybe in another 20 years I do believe that the companies that nuture and reward the PM specialists and give them a serious career path reporting directly to excecutives instead of placing them under the thumbs of lower level line managers will have a serious, serious, competive advantage in successful product developement (think streamlined communication and escalation) and this practice will become more common because those who do it will win.  Some of the people posting will help create that. 

I don’t have another 20 years to wait and am going to have to make myself an excecutive now.  Sound outrageous?  Actually it just take a corporate filing and an idea… and another adventure begins!



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