If I Knew I Was Going to Be a PM, I Would Have Followed a Different 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.

I have been a project manager for nearly my entire life. I started managing projects—believe it or not—when I was around 14 years old. While the size, complexity and nature of the projects have evolved considerably since then, I have been managing projects in some shape or form ever since.

While projects have been a constant theme of my life, for the first six years or so I didn’t know that what I did was projects. I didn’t recognize that I was a project manager. I didn’t know that there was such a thing as project management. My job was to get stuff done—whatever stuff needed doing—and doing whatever might be required.

Project management therefore wasn’t something that I set out deliberately to do. It wasn’t a chosen career path. I didn’t follow a particular defined progression to get here. There was no grand strategy or master plan that led to project management as my chosen discipline.

In retrospect, however, it is in all probability entirely inevitable that this is the kind of work I would wind up doing. I like challenges. I enjoy solving difficult and complex problems. I have a visceral distaste for repetition and routine. I like figuring out how to overcome obstacles and work through challenges. If there had been any level of planning involved up front, it is relatively safe to assume that I was destined…

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Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.

- Will Rogers

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