Project Management

Being Strategic About Career Development

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at [email protected]. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

Today’s project managers should at least be aware of the strategic priorities of their employer. They may not understand all of the nuances of why a particular strategy or set of objectives was developed, but they need to at least understand what the organization is trying to achieve in order to deliver projects that contribute to those goals and objectives.

In addition, pretty much any employee is expected to set their own personal objectives each year, likely using the acronym SMART (which will be familiar to most of you). While there are some minor variations (especially around the “R”), it is generally assumed to refer to ensuring objectives are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound.

What I’m trying to say is that here’s no excuse for a project manager not to be able to develop a clear set of goals and objectives. So why do so few project managers do so when it comes to career development?

Let me provide some practical examples, with quotes from just a few emails I’ve received asking for career advice in the last few weeks:

  • “I want to get acceptance from good universities.”
  • “I want to get a job in project management.”
  • “I want to work in oil and gas.”
  • “I want to do research in project management.”

I know those are the most extreme examples, and …

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"Life is what happens to us while we're making other plans."

- John Lennon