Do You Have What It Takes to be a Project Manager?

Mary Hardiman

Lori Cook

MGT 598


“Do You Have What it takes to be a Project Manager?”

According to the author Moira Alexander of “Do You Have What It Takes to be a Project Manager,” the career of a Project Manager is a demanding profession.  This occupation is fast-paced, ever-changing, time-sensitive and served with an excessive amount of uncertainty and stress (“Do You Have What it takes to be a Project Manager?”).  There is great strain on the Project Managers as well as their employees to execute a successful project.  There may be hundreds or thousands of projects – successes or failures — undertaken by a single department within a large corporation each day.  For this reason, it is advised to be aware of the demands of the look to successful companies launching successful projects.

We can start by looking at a successful company like Apple, Inc. in examining the life of a project.  As discussed in class, Apple, Inc. is a great example of a company that undertakes its infamous annual project of releasing its newest, shiniest iPhone to the market.  Year after year, Apple launches its innovative and most anticipated product to the public.  As discussed in class, this undertaking of a temporary endeavor to create a new product is known as a “project” (“Chapter 1: Modern Project Management”).  The Apple iPhone release is one of the most successful projects that has gained a following worldwide with millions of sales each year.

Despite common misconception, each project has its own challenges since each project is “temporary” and “non-repetitive” (“Chapter 1: Modern Project Management”).  Each project faces new challenges because of its uniqueness.  As an example, Apple launches a new iPhone each year, which makes the project time-sensitive.  Each project will have its own time-related objectives stating when each project task must be completed (“Chapter 2: Organization Strategy and Project Selection”).  Apple launches a more “improved” iPhone each year, which makes the project unique.  The newest iPhone must be different from the last iPhone released in order to meet the requirements of the term “project” (“Chapter 1: Modern Project Management”).  These two defining characteristics of the term “project” are what create challenges for all of those involved in the project itself.

Apple employees have heavy pressure on them to release a product with better design, feature, connectivity, and overall performance improvements.  Therefore, each change made to the iPhone, whether minor or major, must be carefully planned and executed among each team member or team lead.  In the technology sector of the market, upgrades to products are constant and ever-changing.  You must be comfortable with making constant decisions in an environment with continual change.  Moira Alexander states that “Everything, from where you work, how you do things, whom you interact with and when things are done is in constant flux and flex. In fact, continual change is the sheer nature of what is required to keep within the scope of a project” (“Do You Have What it takes to be a Project Manager?”)  The success of the project relies heavily on its team members to keep up with the most current technological trends in the market while delivering positive project results.

This is exactly why the career of a Project Manager is not easy-breezy, low-stress job.  It is a demanding career that requires a creative, organized and confident professional.  So, “If all of the things the job entails do not frighten you, then you just might be cut out to be a great project manager” (“Do You Have What it takes to be a Project Manager?”).

Works Cited

Alexander, Moira. “Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Project Manager?” CIO, 13 Mar. 2015. Web. 29 June 2015.

Cook, Lori. “Chapter 1: Modern Project Management.” MGT 598. Illinois, Chicago. 13 June 2015. Lecture.

Cook, Lori. “Chapter 2: Organization Strategy and Project Selection.” MGT 598. Illinois, Chicago. 13 June 2015. Lecture.




8 thoughts on “Do You Have What It Takes to be a Project Manager?

  1. The post is relevant because it brings attention to how managing projects/teams impact project managers. Recognizing the meticulous attention to detail, and time required for planning and executing a project is important for all project managers to take into consideration. I agree that a high level of organization and creativity is needed to produce successful projects, however, the success of a project could be a blessing and a curse for a project manager. If a project is a success, or even a failure, the same demand on time and presence of stress is always constant. Either way, if individuals are up to the challenge, managing a project is a great way to test your adaptability and improve efficiency, due to time-constraints, and increase confidence/support of individual and team decisions. Something to definitely be mindful of. Thanks for this post!

  2. Thank you for sharing this great article. I think it is useful for people who want to pursue their career in project management. This job is definitely not for everyone because it is highly demanding and stressful. However, there is something unique about the profession. The article mentioned that each project is “temporary” and “non-repetitive”. Instead of performing routine duties daily, project managers have different challenges from different projects. For people who do not like repeated tasks, this is the perfect job.

  3. This is a great article! I think the article is spot on for what we see now in variety of industries, especially technology. The fast pace of new and improved options coming to market, competing for the next best idea or product, and delivering what customers want has become a battle. However, there are many mature industries with little change or few new advancements. So for an industry such as that I would imagine that the experience of a Project Manager would be significantly different. The responsibilities would be similar, the tasks would be overlapping, the overall scope of the job would remain the same, but wouldn’t it be a less stressful job? I believe that in order to be a successful Project Manager you need to posses the skills and be versatile, quick to make decisions, and everything else the article mentioned. However, one can definitely choose a mature industry, have a less stressful day at work, and still be successful in the role. At least that is what I would imagine to be the case.


  4. A project Manger’s (PM) job is to manage time, resources, money and scope. A good education, experience and continues Project management training is required to develop a good PM as this is a job that will see unexpected challenges every single step of the way.
    The first challenge to this job is to understand the scope of the project from the stakeholders and to be able to define the goal of the project accurately for the team members. When goals are not clearly identified it is difficult for the team to meet them. To establish and communicate clear goals, the project manager must ask the right questions from the beginning. Another challenge would be to manage the changes to scope that will come up during the project. The PM will have to evaluate each request and decide how and whether to implement while communicating the impact on the budget and deadlines to the stakeholders.
    The next challenge is to work with a team. Sometimes the project will need skills that the team members don’t possess. The Project manager will have to determine the needed competencies, how to find the appropriate workers and how to hire and train them. The PM would also have to assign responsibility to the right people and hold them accountable when things aren’t done right or when the target dates aren’t met.
    The major challenge of this job is planning for and dealing with risk. It’s important for project managers to know exactly what direction to take in pre-defined “what-if” scenarios. But if those possibilities are not identified, the entire project can become stalled in an unexpected set of problems. Brain storming with the team to identify potential problem areas can lead to a much smoother and more successful project.
    Next important skill is effective communication. The project manager should be able to provide clear directions verbally and in writing at every single step of the project.
    Finally, the project manager has to be able to manage expectations for all stake holders. A successful PM should never agree to impossible deadlines. Forcing the team to complete tasks in a unrealistic time frame will decline morale and productivity. The PM should also ask for sufficient resources – people, time and money.

  5. This was a very interesting post, thank you. The example on Apple projects made me think about how the role of the Project Management Office (PMO) might be different depending on the business or industry. The post discusses how the project relies on “ its team members to keep up with the most current technological trends in the market,” does that mean the project manager has to keep up with those trends as well? I wonder if Apple has certain project managers that only work on the iPhone launches due to the learning curve from the technology trends. My companies PMO group really only has two large categories (Pharmacy or Front End Sales) and areas that may overlap (IT/or point-of-sale processes, labor, etc) could have a PM from either area that may not have ‘current trend’ information as additional value to the project. Maybe having subject matter expert (or at least very knowledgeable) PMs is a more efficient way to manage certain projects in certain industries.

  6. Ah yes, the question is ‘to be or not to be’…a project manager. Do you have what it takes? The fast pace and high stress of a P.M. at Apple could be largely due to the company’s culture and its industry. Not all companies and industries are as quick to change, and competitive. For other industries and cultures there would be other requirements of a successful Project Manager. For example working in highly diverse environments but not fast-paced. Nonetheless, certain attributes seem common to all successful Project Managers. To name a few common characteristics to know if you “have what it takes to be a P.M.”, leadership, foresight, excellent communication and people skills, goal or achievement oriented are paramount since projects (unlike processes and systems) are finite with clearly defined goals, timeframes, and measureables.

  7. Thanks for posting this article! I think a lot of people may feel they can be a manager, but it really takes someone special to be a good project manager. All of the attention to detail, scheduling, and being able to work with many different types of personality is hard to do all at once regardless of the project being on a small or large scope. At my old company I was the project manger for our aircraft dismantlement projects. Specifically, I was responsible for scheduling labor, figuring out what to take off the aircraft first based on market trends, and then managing each of the 1,500 pieces as they went to the repair shop. Even though we had torn down hundreds of aircraft each project always had it’s different challenges. It was crucial to look at past performance on projects and see what went wrong and what we did really well that we could carry over to the new project. This was a great post that reminds us exactly why the career of a Project Manager is not an easy-breezy, low-stress job.

  8. Thank you for sharing the article. I felt the article definitely covered a lot of what it would take to be a good PM but I think it missed one solid skill. Beyond simply dealing with conflict, I believe that a PM would need to have strong emotional IQ. There is a book with the same name that goes into great depth regarding the advantage but basically it is the ability to meet the needs of people emotionally; allowing you to not only resolve conflicts but create relationships with those you are in conflict with.

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