Project Management

Becoming a Sustainable Project Manager

Lonnie Pacelli is an Accenture/Microsoft veteran with four decades of learnings under his belt. He frequently writes and speaks on leadership, project management, work/life balance, and disability inclusion. Reach him at [email protected] and see more at

I always want to ensure I am putting my four decades of experience to good use by helping others grow—and helping them avoid some of the (many) mistakes I made as a project manager, leader and human being.

In thinking through my responsibility as a steward, it occurred to me that being effective as a project manager is much more than honing skills—it’s about guiding project managers in not only work skills, but also life experiences. It’s about positioning project managers for long-term success. It’s about helping PMs bounce back from failure, learn from it, and then help others avoid the same failure. It’s about what I call building sustainability, which will be the underlying theme of my content: the Sustainable PM.

I suspect that you will continue to face competing demands that can sap a crucial resource: time. Urgent activities usurp those that may not be urgent, but are very important. But high-priority projects can take away from time with loved ones, and late nights diminish the quantity and quality of relationships. I totally get the idea that every once in a while, a PM needs to burn the midnight oil to get something done. These sprints are just part of the job.

Where it becomes a problem is when PMs try to sprint a marathon—when burning the midnight oil becomes the rule versus the exception. I went through a time in …

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