Project Management

Project Management as an Actual Career Choice: Discuss

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.

It’s an odd thing to do, choosing a career in project management. It’s certainly a more popular one, judging by the statistics, but it’s still an odd one.

That’s not to say that being a project manager can’t be an incredibly rewarding career. Project management is, after all, the only thing I’ve ever really done. But it is still relatively rare as a deliberate career choice.

The idea of being an accidental project manager isn’t new, of course. But it is still the normal gateway into the madness of trying to deliver complex projects well. We take on a role where our job is to get stuff done. We learn that “getting stuff done” is a project. And that there is this thing called project management. And that project management offers tools by which we can get stuff done more effectively.

And all that is all very well and good, as far as it goes. We take a course or three. We attain our certification. We hunt the internet for abundant, low-cost supplies of PDUs to maintain those certifications (this site happens to be an awesome resource for that). And we spend our days inhabiting the line on our job descriptions that says, “Other duties as assigned.”

What that doesn’t really comprise, though, is an actual career path. If we’re really honest, it’s a haphazard wander through reality, …


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