Career Coach: Project Manager
I caught up with project manager George Loveland for a bit of career advice.
What led you to explore project management as a career?
It wasn’t something I would have been interested in, to be honest, but I was brought in as a subject matter expert for a new customer service software tool the company were developing. The Project Managers at the Gaming company I worked for were seen as experts within their area, and there was always someone from the team associated to an aspect of the business. It was at the time when eGaming was really taking off. For me, it was an interesting change as opposed to being a Customer Services call centre supervisor, and through my knowledge I took on the role of project lead.
The role was much more than I expected, and I was lucky enough to be mentored by a Project Manager who showed me how to gather requirements, translate them for different audiences, and plan a project.
When the project was over, I was offered a role as Junior Project Manager and given my own projects to manage.
Is project management something that you studied or completed qualifications for, or is it something that you learnt on the job?
I learnt mostly on the job, but I have since taken courses and earned qualifications which give structure and process to what I do. However, I would say that what I’ve learnt on the job has given me the most, and I’ve used past experience to run projects as opposed to doing things by the book.
You’re also a writer - is it difficult to balance your passion for writing with your day-job as a project manager?
There isn’t any creativity in project management, so writing is a welcome distraction from the stress of the day. I’m able to take off my Project Manager hat at the end of the day and do something different.
However, it does help me with writing and releasing a new book. I’m able to come up with a plan and action points easily because it’s very much part of what I do day-to-day. It doesn’t mean that I don’t follow the same process the software developers do in my team, and plan too much and cram in everything at the end to get the finished product out on release date.
What are some of the skills and attributes that you need to build a career as a project manager?
The role of the Project Manager is to be shouted at to get things done, and shout at others to get things done. Take out the shouting and it’s all about listening to the requirements from one side and translating them to another, we really are in the middle.
You need to be someone who likes organisation and working with others to deliver your goal. There is a need to be able to have a thick skin, both from the people asking you for the work, to disappointing those doing the work when they want to do something really cool, when all you need is something simple. There’s a lot of negotiation going on, and making sure everything is going as it should. I don’t know you can necessarily learn this, but having a thick skin is probably the thing I’ve learnt the most.
In terms of translating that into writing, it’s certainly helped as a self-published author, as sometimes you have to have a thick skin when dealing with reviews!
If someone was interested in exploring a career as a project manager, what advice or guidance would you give them?
I’m not sure anyone would want to go into project management, but there are some benefits if you are someone that likes to organise and structure things. I’ve enjoyed being able to see products go from being ideas to fully functional, and making decisions based on information that has been given to me.