Have you ever found yourself moving in a direction you didn't even know was possible?
That was the case with me, standing today as a successful project manager, a career I stumbled upon rather than consciously chose at the beginning. I studied Industrial Economics at university, a path that seemingly had nothing to do with project management. At that point, I had little idea that this obscure field I knew so little about would become my passion.
Born and bred in the world of numbers and analysis, I started my career as an equity research analyst, a post I held for six enriching years. The thrill of exploring markets and crunching numbers was stimulating, yet I yearned for something more, something different. My diverse background brought me to the next junction of my professional journey – corporate strategy.
Working in corporate strategy for a conglomerate, I found myself formally managing projects for the first time. While I wasn’t officially branded as a project manager, I was getting a taste of what it felt like to be one. Less than two years into this role, I took the plunge into management consulting, which finally bestowed upon me the formal title I’d been unwittingly gearing up for – a Project Manager.
The transition to project management seemed natural, as if I'd been preparing for it all along. My interest was solidified, particularly due to the diverse range of projects that came my way. From market research reports to setting up factories for companies, I was astonished by the versatility this role offered.
In the aftermath of my tenure in management consulting, I found myself craving a break. I took a 7-month sabbatical, using this time to nurture my burgeoning interest in project management. I resolved to deepen my knowledge and committed to achieving the PMP certification. After months of hard work, I finally obtained the certification.
Today, I find myself immersed in the realm of supply chain excellence. While the context has changed, my role hasn't. I continue to manage projects of all shapes and sizes, finding great satisfaction in the diversity of tasks and challenges I encounter every day.
It was this realization that prompted me to pursue project management as a career seriously. If you're contemplating a career change towards project management, I'd like to share some tips based on my experience:
- Assess your Transferable Skills: Every past experience adds to your skills repertoire. Identify which of these can be directly applied to project management. Remember, your communication, problem-solving, leadership, and teamwork skills are crucial in this field.
- Get Relevant Education and Certifications: Strengthen your resume by pursuing certifications such as PMP (Project Management Professional) or CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management). These not only validate your knowledge but also make you a more competitive candidate.
- Gain Hands-on Experience: Opportunities for project management experience are everywhere if you know where to look. Volunteer to manage small projects, or offer to assist project managers within your organization. It's an excellent way to familiarize yourself with the field's processes and terminology.
- Keep Learning: Project management is a field that is continuously evolving. Staying updated with new methodologies, technologies, and industry trends is essential. Consider attending workshops, conferences, or enrolling in advanced project management courses to stay at the top of your game.
The road to project management is as diverse as the field itself. Your journey may look different than mine, but no matter your background, the opportunities in this field are endless.
So take that first step, embrace the unknown, and who knows?
You might discover a new passion, just like I did.