Project managers are the superheroes of every organisation. We shine a light on the role, including responsibilities, skills, and ways to get started.
Project managers are the wing-men and women of all office-goers, helping manage projects from get-go through to execution. But what is it that they actually do?
The idea that project management is a needless overhead is surprisingly common,” says Kerrin D’Arcy, who is a renowned professional in the media industry. She believes there’s a mentality that this position is not required until something goes wrong.
In reality, the role of a project manager isn’t just about avoiding disasters. These professionals should be engaged from the beginning of any new initiative, so that they can plan and oversee development to deliver the best outcome for all.
More than schedules and cost
Sure, this line of work carries the responsibility of managing budgets, costs, scope and deadlines. But it’s about so much more. Project management is about handling the overall life-cycle of a project.
As part of this, project managers should be tasked with ensuring each element of a project is carefully assessed for risks and issues, as well addressing resources that may be required.
“Project managers take a great idea and makes it happen,” says Cassandra Naccarella, an award-winning project manager with construction giant Stockland.
“[They] make delivery more efficient through careful planning, attention to detail and clear communication.”
As project management professionals are generally the only people with a full view of the entire team, they’re key to “pulling it all together”.
The ultimate problem-solving profession
It isn’t the role of the project manager to know how to code, to construct or to write. But it’s often up to them to know who to reach to get it done.
“A project manager should be able to guide and direct conversations or provide a different viewpoint and participate in a collaborative way to resolve the problem,” says D’Arcy.
These professionals are proactive in engaging the team in frequent discussions, as well as knowing when it’s appropriate to escalate an issue to higher management if a resolution can’t be found.
A role that’s always evolving
“Different industries move at different speeds – and the customers of these industries are often more savvy than ever,” says D’Arcy.
“Therefore, project managers need to constantly adapt and evolve along with a changing landscape.”
For D’Arcy, being part of the media industry during the digital age, her biggest challenge is to keep up with trends.
“Those who succeed should be able to moderate their management style to suit the program, project and business unit or team delivery,” she says.
Consider yourself the ultimate organiser? Love the challenge of solving problems? You might just make a goal-kicking project manager. With skills to work across a variety of industries, project managers are open to a range of career opportunities.
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