A business student recently interviewed me via email. She is interested in project management and this was part of an assignment to reach out to people via Twitter to interview about what they do and the state of their industry/role. (My kudos to the professor for encouraging students to use new media to interact with people who are already in the field!)
I asked her permission to share the interview with you, I hope you find it helpful. Leave comments on what you agree and do not agree with!
How is the job market for project managers?
I would say it is healthy overall. Project managers lead teams to get things done in companies, and organizations always need them. Note that many project management jobs do not actually have “project manager” in the title. There are so many variations of the title. I suggest you look around on some of the job listings like careerbuilder.com, dice.com, etc. and see what you can find in your own region.
How do you deal with changes that are happening in the field?
Personally, I run a blog and community site, read other blogs, and am a member of PMI so I participate with my local chapter and several SIGs (specific interest groups). I’m also on the PMI New Media Council and will be presenting at the 2009 North America Global Congress in Orlando (October 11, 2009). Just as with any profession, there are a lot of niches and personal development opportunities to be had. Just staying active in advancing project management as a discipline is a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of it.
What are the best companies to work for?
Project management can be great in any type of organization or industry. If you can get into an organization who makes their money from doing successful projects you will be in the best learning environment. If you are a project manager in an organization, say in the financial services industry, and do internal projects that can be good too….but project management doesn’t get the attention it deserves unless the business model makes running projects central to the bottom line.
How do you use information systems in your job?
I’m self employed now, but in my last role as the lead project manager for the LDCM TSSC contract (building the ground system for a joint USGS/NASA satellite mission) information systems were certainly important. The key thing with IS is that the systems are easy to use, accurate, reliable, and allow you to focus on the few key metrics that help you manage the project. I’ve seen a lot of systems that have a lot of bells and whistles, and are virtually useless unless you get a degree on how to run the damn thing. It’s also easy to get lost in data and lose sight of what’s really important.
I will say this though. Managing projects is about managing people. If you get too data-centric you can lose sight of that. Tools and data don’t run the project, you and your people do.