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Perceptions of Project Managers in the Job Marketplace (and what to do about it)

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Given to the PMI Central Mass chapter on 2015-01-13. Can also be downloaded from here: https://pmicmass.org/document-repository/meetings-archive/2015-meetings-archive/381-2015-01-13-perceptions-of-pms-in-the-job-marketplace-bruce-kozuma

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Perceptions of Project Managers in the Job Marketplace (and what to do about it)

  1. 1. Perceptions of Project Managers in the Job Marketplace And What to Do About It Bruce Kozuma, PMP, CPIM 2015/01/13, v6
  2. 2. Topics  About me  Common (mis)perceptions about PMs  What you can do about it  References and acknowledgements
  3. 3. About me (or what makes me think I have something you want to hear)  Industries  Consulting  Pharma/biotech (big, mid, small pharma, academic biomedical research)  Optoelectronics  Publishing & related tools, software development, manufacturing  Employers  Startup to multinationals, volunteer organizations  BostonComputer Society, Marcam,Axsun,Wyeth, Alkermes, Ceiba/ PerkinElmer (Synta, UMMS, Broad Institute)  Roles  Consultant  Manager  1 – 10 direct reports  Project teams up to 100 employees, consultants, & contractors  Individual contributor  ProgramProject Manager  ManufacturingR&D IT  Software DeveloperQA  Technical Communications
  4. 4. About me (or what makes me think I have something you want to hear)  Professional qualifications  B.S. in Physics, Bates College, 1989 (surprisingly useful, finally)  Master ofTechnical and ProfessionalWriting, Northeastern University, 1991 (ditto)  MSCS, Boston University, 2002  PMI PMP, 2005  APICS CPIM, 2010  General chemistry, Organic chemistry, Oregon State University, 2012  Relevant work experience  Consulting  Discovery, business analysis, SDLC/PLM, support, change management  Enterprise software implementation  MES, ERP, PDM, integration, SCM, QMS, CDS, ELN, SDMS  Development  WordBasic,VBA, C++, STL, Perl, Java, EJB, SQL, OLE, LAMP  Architectures using UNIX/LINUX/Windows, client/server, web More at www.linkedin.cominbkozuma
  5. 5. About me (or what makes me think I have something you want to hear)  I’m one of you!  What follows has been gleaned from experience:  Being a PM  Hiring, managing, and working with PMs  Being interviewed as a PM  Talking with recruiters and colleagues
  6. 6. Common (mis) perceptions about PMs Hiring managers’ POV  They’re tactical, not strategic  PM with PMP > PM without  It’s a profession, not a skill  “A good PM can manage anything”  Project jockey versus subject matter expert  Risk management isn’t important
  7. 7. Common (mis) perceptions about PMs Hiring managers’ POV  They’re tactical, not strategic  Perception  Only think about day to day matters  Don’t think about the project in the overall scheme of things  Myopic  Reality  Yes, because someone has to sweat the details  Two words: Program management  Absolutely, especially at critical junctures of the project, but you can’t stay in the trenches all the time
  8. 8. Common (mis) perceptions about PMs Hiring managers’ POV  PM with PMP > PM without  Perception  PMP is required for PMs, PMP holders hired more easily, etc.  Reality  Experience trumps certification, but “Experience by itself teaches nothing” –W. Edwards Deming  Certification gives you tools and puts management of projects in context and ensures PMs have exposure to the breadth of the field, but doesn’t guarantee executional capacity
  9. 9. Common (mis) perceptions about PMs Hiring managers’ POV  It’s a profession, not a skill  Perception  Once a PM, always a PM  What growth path?  Managing projects is all they can do  Reality  We didn’t get bachelors degrees as PMs, but developed skills over time  Four words: Program management, portfolio management  Really? PMs employ a lot of skills: risk management, people management, working across groups, working up and down management hierarchies, etc.There’s no other jobs that require those skills?
  10. 10. Common (mis) perceptions about PMs Hiring managers’ POV  “A good PM can manage anything”  Perception  Projects in different areas aren’t that different, so they should be able to manage projects in different areas with equal ease, e.g., a PM can with a background in Quality Management Systems can manage projects in Supply Chain  Reality  Sort of, if you want to cut out one of the PMs most important roles, i.e., risk management
  11. 11. Common (mis) perceptions about PMs Hiring managers’ POV  Project jockey versus subject matter expert  Perception  Job is to update the Gantt charts, status reports, issues lists  Only concerned with metrics  Doesn’t know much about the subject area/cannot contribute to technical discussions  Reality  “There is no substitute for knowledge” –W. Edwards Deming  Good PMs know their subject area, connect people, facilitate conversations, keep people focused on customer needs  Good PMs look at the big picture and help manage trade offs (avoid gopher holes)
  12. 12. Common (mis) perceptions about PMs Hiring managers’ POV  Risk management isn’t important  Perception  How often do you see risk management mentioned in job descriptions?  Reality  THE most important thing project managers do to help ensure project success  Many PMs could use more training in conducting (somewhat) formalized risk assessments and identifying mitigations
  13. 13. Common (mis) perceptions about PMs Other roles’ POV  Perception  Don’t produce anything  Controlling, process bound, bureaucratic  See themselves as having all the answers  Why have PMs if we don’t have FTEs to do the work?  Reality  Reports show where things stand; metrics let us make data driven decisions, not ones based on emotions  Processes help keep projects on target; flexibility needed, to a point  PMs are supposed to have the big picture and keep things balanced, but we do need input from all quarters  PMs are force multipliers, ensuring we do the right work
  14. 14. What you can do about it  They’re tactical, not strategic  Think broadly  Understand the wider mission of your organization and the place of your project in it  Seek out related projects and understand how they do and do not affect your projects  Conduct lessons learned activities throughout the project, not just at the end, to improve future projects  PM with PMP > PM without  Educate yourself about PM processes  Get certified: CAPM, PMP, PgMP, PfMP, etc.
  15. 15. What you can do about it  It’s a profession, not a skill  Talk with your management about career growth paths and think about multidimensional growth  Up in the hierarchy  Different subject areas  Different professions  Different industries  “A good PM can manage anything”  Take on new challenges, but be up front about what knowledge you lack  Seek out experts and enlist their help in education yourself  Turn down the “opportunity” to manage a project significantly outside your area of expertise
  16. 16. What you can do about it  Project jockey versus subject matter expert  Become a subject matter expert in your field, your organization’s market, your department’s mission, the mission of your internal stakeholders , etc.  Widen your organizational and business knowledge  Risk management isn’t important  Become a local risk management expert, it pays dividends (including PMI-RM)  Include risk analysis/mitigation as part of your projects and when appropriate, highlight how it helped the project succeed or reduce costs  Have a risk burndown plan tied to schedule milestones and project costs
  17. 17. What you can do about it  “When professionals work with ease and rapidity, it is the result of long years of practice and discipline. There are no secrets or tricks, only feats of skill (tours de main) acquired with prolonged effort.Through endless repetition, these techniques will become so much a part of you that you’ll never forget them.” – Jacques Pépin  “I tell a student that the most important class you can take is technique. A great chef is first a great technician. 'If you are a jeweler, or a surgeon or a cook, you have to know the trade in your hand.You have to learn the process.You learn it through endless repetition until it belongs to you.” – Jacques Pépin
  18. 18. References and acknowledge ments  Awati, Kailash. “Project mismanagers – some sterotypes” Eight to Late, 12 September 2007 <https://eight2late.wordpress.com/2007/09/12/project- mismanagers-some-stereotypical-caricatures/>Accessed on 01 January 2015  Fiorido,Vanessa. “Three Common Project Management Stereotypes and WhyThey AreWrong .“ Project Community. 12 April 2013. <http://projectcommunityonline.com/three-common-project-management- stereotypes-and-why-they-are-wrong.html> Accessed on 01 January 2015  Hunsberge, Kelley. “Paper Pushers and Process Police.“ PM Network, February 2012, http://www.pmnetwork- digital.com/pmnetworkopen/201202?sub_id=uS7HscDcg5N3#pg68Accessed on 01 January 2015  Kayal, Michele. “For Pepin, cooking is about technique, not stardom.”YahooTV. 3 August 2011. <https://tv.yahoo.com/news/pepin-cooking-technique-not-stardom- 133419748.html> Accessed on 01 January 2015
  19. 19. References and acknowledge ments  Ken. “Tech Stereotypes:Can’t we all just get along?.”The Most Interesting Blog In The World, 31 July 2011 <http://kahlstrom.tumblr.com/post/8318401825> Accessed on 01 January 2015  Deming,W. Edwards. The essential Deming: leadership principles from the father of quality. NewYork:The W. Edwards Deming Institute, 2013 p. 204, 12  Pepin, Jacques. Jacques Pépin New CompleteTechniques. NewYork: Black Dog & Leventhal, 2012. Introduction  Sanches, Fabiano. “Fighting Project Manager Sterotypes” PM Office – Brazil. 23 February 2012 <http://pmo-br.blogspot.com/2012/02/fighting-project-manager- stereotypes.html?m=1>Accessed on 01 January 2015  With thanks to Patricia Coffey, Kathleen Dooley, Livia Racz, and Mark Sweet for their input to this presentation

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