A popular speaker at PMI SeminarsWorld and chapter events, and author of How To Think Strategically, Greg Githens says project managers should pay more attention to developing their personal brand, which is not just a listing of responsibilities on a resume—it's a career narrative about benefitting teams and stakeholders.
Greg, how did you get into project management? I was lucky in that my first professional job was with a project-oriented consulting and technology company. I was exposed to customer requirements, scope development, stakeholder engagement—and all the other elements of professional project management—from this early moment. I worked for some great project managers and eventually became the program manager for a very large contract. I got to work with the executive team and gained an understanding of what it takes to craft strategy that is good, powerful, effective and nuanced.
What do you love most about the work? I take great satisfaction in the success of others. I love it when I can help individuals make an impact on their organizations and develop their career narrative. I also take great satisfaction in that organizations are adopting and using my ideas to improve their strategic effectiveness.
What do you find most challenging or frustrating? High on my list is the mentality of scarcity held by many managers, including project managers. They are too absorbed with their perceived scarcity of time and resources. They often neglect opportunities and fail to show leadership.
What's your proudest professional achievement? I’m very proud of the impact that my book is making on the project management profession. I’m continually hearing from program and project managers that they are now better able to engage with the strategists in their organization, and that they feel more confident in their personal leadership. I’m really happy for a past seminar participant who just landed her dream job. Her success was due to her own talents and efforts, but I helped her in sharpening-up her strategic thinking abilities and career narrative.
What's the best piece of advice you've received or can share? Pay attention to your personal brand. It is not the same thing as your reputation. I frequently hear from attendees of my PMI seminars that my advocacy of developing a strong personal brand is a powerful tool for advancing one’s career. Take a look at your resume. Is it a boring litany of positions held and responsibilities? Or does it articulate a career narrative of accomplishments and benefits delivered to stakeholders? Do people seek you out for your thought leadership?
How has ProjectManagement.com helped you in your work and career? I read the articles and the responses to the articles. Sometimes I learn a new leading-edge idea and sometimes I find that the points of view expressed help me remember that there are many different perspectives about the future of project management. I may not always agree with the opinions expressed, but it enriches my understanding of the performance challenges facing individuals and organizations.
What interests or hobbies do you have outside work? Writing my book consumed lot of my creative energy and now I am directing it to some new hobbyist ideas: I’m at the early stages of outlining a movie screenplay about Christopher Columbus’s early life in Lisbon describing how he got his world-changing idea. I’ve also resumed creating music in my home recording studio. I also exercise every day, alternating sessions at the local Y with bicycle rides.
Favorite TV show, artist or movie? I go to a lot of blues festivals and enjoy hearing the journeyman performers bring their unique style to the music.
Best vacation? A Nairobi-headquartered company invited me to speak to the leadership team on strategy and projects. That was a great professional experience and the icing on the cake was a safari in the Masa Mara National Park. It was spectacular.
Thank you Greg!
To connect with Greg, visit his ProjectManagement.com profile.