Project Management: What's The Career Path?

Mark Mullaly is president of Interthink Consulting Incorporated, an organizational development and change firm specializing in the creation of effective organizational project management solutions. Since 1990, it has worked with companies throughout North America to develop, enhance and implement effective project management tools, processes, structures and capabilities. Mark was most recently co-lead investigator of the Value of Project Management research project sponsored by PMI. You can read more of his writing at markmullaly.com.

For a significant number of organizations, the PMO has become the central focal point for project managers. It's not just a source of practices or a conduit for reporting. Many project managers now call the PMO "home". It is where they hang their hat, even though they don't necessarily get to hang out there much.
As project management becomes increasingly visible and the PMO is looked upon to ensure project success, more and more PMOs are becoming the central resource pool of project managers to the rest of the organization--if only on critical or strategic projects.
This leads to a fascinating but sometimes troublesome question: What's the career path for a project manager? How do I become one? How do I continue to increase my value--and pay cheque? And when I want to, how do I gracefully get off the merry-go-round of project charters, steering committees and close-out reports? What's the next opportunity that being a project manager will let me springboard into?
Traditionally, the career path question was a pretty easy one to answer…we were a project manager as a sideline to our "day job", and whatever career path our operational responsibilities positioned us in defined where we could get to from here. Along the way, organizations decided that project management was sufficiently valued as a role within the organization that it should probably become a job on its own. A …

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