To Pursue or Not to Pursue

At my previous job, I imagined what it was like being a project manager (PM). I was tired of being a Documentation Specialist and was looking for something with more responsibility and visibility. Project management definitely had both of those qualities, but then I would hesitate. I wondered, “Am I glorifying the profession and not seeing the downside of the job?” After reading the article, “7 Project Management Trends that has Already Happened,” I can evaluate in hindsight the position and understand more about it.

The author wrote this article early 2015, which coincides with the time I was at the company. There are four points in the article that was applicable to the project managers there.

First, there is an increase in demand in Project Management. The company hired one project manager at the start of my career and it stayed that way for about a year. Afterwards, it hired five additional project managers. Each project manager was in charge of a product and her job was to get the product onto the market before the company’s competitors. A consequence, as mentioned in the article, was a lot of them had never worked in the biotechnology industry. They were running projects as they were learning the industry, which often made it difficult for them and others to complete their work.

Second, project managers have to balance the increasing pressures of information technology and stringent governmental regulations. We did not have a lot of IT application software; we mainly worked off Excel. By my second year, we started implementing applications, but they were not efficient or user-friendly. The project managers noticed this; when they had a deadline to meet due to compliance issues, they and the documentation team would stay late after work. It was very difficult to meet regulation deadlines when something basic like the software was slow and uncooperative.

Lastly, lack of training was prominent in the organization, especially for project managers. Project managers were expected to start on the project once they were hired. Because every task had a short deadline, training was usually an afterthought. One guy from the Finance Department was pulled into Project Management, so he could become one in the near future. He ended up doing necessary menial tasks, which did not leave him time to learn Project Management skills to do the bigger tasks. We will call that a Catch-22 situation.

After looking into project management further, I am still on the fence if I want that to be my career goal. There are so many pressures, such as time constraints, training and more; project managers are the intersection for coordination and communication. That’s a lot of responsibility for one person. However, I believe that I am capable of doing those things. I am doing it now in my current role as a Supply Chain Order Management Specialist, but I’m doing it on a smaller scale. Maybe I’ll get the nerve, or aspiration, one day to pursue this career.

2 thoughts on “To Pursue or Not to Pursue

  1. I feel the same way sometimes. Most projects we do that have numerous small tasks. Document management is an important part of project management. It takes a long time, but feels like a non productive work. Actually it still relative to another topic time management. Here is an article about project management tools we can share.
    These are just the tip of the iceberg thought for reference.

  2. I enjoyed your post, Amy, and I share some of your curiosity and skepticism of the desirability of PM as a career path. Although I’ve been employed as a functional manager for the past six years in my company, I’ve had the opportunity to simultaneously lead projects during that time. Being a functional manager requires emphasis on employee performance management, which can be stressful and unpleasant at times. On the other hand, project managers can face difficulty earning and retaining stakeholder engagement when the PMs have no formal direct authority over their team. I’ve known PMs that had no idea what their next assignment would be after completion of their project, and that could be stressful, too.
    The article highlights the ongoing growth and importance of the PM role throughout industry. Through my work experience, I’ve come to value and respect the discipline of PM, with regards to maintaining project documentation, timelines, and budgets, and the art of maintaining stakeholder engagement. I’d be open to a PM position in the future, as long as it provides opportunities for learning and development, and a manageable level of frustration. In the meantime, I plan to develop PM-like skills whenever possible, because they’re highly transferable.

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