Project Management Central

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Topics: Career Development, Leadership
Career Options: Could PMs become tomorrow's executives
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I recently attended a presentation that argued Senior Project Managers have the skills and competencies to make it into the CEO’s chair. Is this a viable career path?

I am not aware of any PMs that have made it to COO level, let alone a chief executive position.

** Do others know of senior PMs who have made it into the ranks of executives?
** Is this a feasible career option for successful PMs?
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Project managers are some of the best candidates to be CEOs, because to carry out their usual work they have to bring together all the disparate aspects of theory, reality, vision, process, finances, value, politics and human nature to create successful outcomes.
When you demonstrate success in managing enterprise-level projects and organisational resources from a holistic perspective, you should be a viable candidate to move up to a CEO-level position.
But reality is different ,CEOs hardly ever come from a project management position.
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@Bruce, our CEO says "You are the CEO of your career" - which means you can drive the way you want to drive your career.
One of my project manager used to tell me - every CEO is a project manager :). This leads me to think, yes a project manager is best suited to be a CEO, as she / he has full knowledge of sales, finances, people while delivering value to stakeholders.
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By designing the talent triangle and suggesting the development of technical, leadership and strategy competencies, and business management, PMI clearly proposes an upgrade in the profession.
Are Project Managers generally up to the challenge?
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It might be because PM's are more focused on the tactile rather than the strategy during their career? It is more common for finance people to rise to the CxO ranks but I think there might be a shift coming when the focus moves away from the 'money is value' view.

There is obviously a difference in a CEO being a PM and a PM being a CEO and they cannot be compared. Everybody in the world is a 'CEO' and 'PM' during their lifetime but that does not equate to doing the actual job.
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Bruce -

Definitely. I know of at least two colleagues who went from PM roles to PMO leadership roles and then into CIO positions. One of my virtual PM contacts is in a COO position with a healthcare company.

While this may not be an immediate jump from PM to senior executive, the competencies, experience and relationships built will all be apropos to a C-suite position.

Kiron
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1 reply by Bruce Gay
Oct 01, 2019 4:24 PM
Bruce Gay
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@Kiron - I would be interested to interview your colleagues who went from PM to PMO leadership roles and then CIO positions. I will follow up with a separate email.
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Making the transition from managing a Project, Program or Portfolio to managing an Organisation is a big step as even though a Project Management has all the necessary skills to becoming a Chief Executive Officer, a Project Manager is traditionally based in the operational side of a business and is not necessarily setting out the medium or long term strategy of a organisation. I would see a Project Manager who has ambitions on becoming a Senior Manager within an organisation, moving into a Chief Operations Officer role and understanding how board members, shareholders, investors and debtors interact within a organisation and how their direct and indirect actions influence the structure, strategy and direction an organisation takes. Gaining a new insight and experience would better equip a Project Manager for the position of Chief Executive Officer.
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I've not seen anyone go from Sr PM directly to an executive position (unless they started their own company). One of the factors in my reason to leave IT is that a leader I respect once told me that executives usually don't come from IT.

I'm not in a rush to become an executive, but it seems like the career path for an IT PM goes from Sr PM to Manager of PMs/PMO Manager, and maybe PMO Director. The PMs that I've seen move into Manager and Director positions left IT, first.
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1 reply by Stéphane Parent
Oct 01, 2019 12:17 PM
Stéphane Parent
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What does "leaving IT" mean, Aaron? Like the old saying says, you can take the boy out of IT...
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Oct 01, 2019 9:35 AM
Replying to Aaron Porter
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I've not seen anyone go from Sr PM directly to an executive position (unless they started their own company). One of the factors in my reason to leave IT is that a leader I respect once told me that executives usually don't come from IT.

I'm not in a rush to become an executive, but it seems like the career path for an IT PM goes from Sr PM to Manager of PMs/PMO Manager, and maybe PMO Director. The PMs that I've seen move into Manager and Director positions left IT, first.
What does "leaving IT" mean, Aaron? Like the old saying says, you can take the boy out of IT...
...
1 reply by Aaron Porter
Oct 01, 2019 12:53 PM
Aaron Porter
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I still have projects with an IT component, but my current role is outside of the IT organization and there are fewer layers between me and the executive team. My projects get more attention from the C suite, and I interact with them more frequently, giving me a better opportunity to develop relationships with them.
Network:878



Oct 01, 2019 12:17 PM
Replying to Stéphane Parent
...
What does "leaving IT" mean, Aaron? Like the old saying says, you can take the boy out of IT...
I still have projects with an IT component, but my current role is outside of the IT organization and there are fewer layers between me and the executive team. My projects get more attention from the C suite, and I interact with them more frequently, giving me a better opportunity to develop relationships with them.
...
1 reply by Stéphane Parent
Oct 01, 2019 1:59 PM
Stéphane Parent
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Interesting! That's exactly what my current assignment is, as well.
Network:104041



Oct 01, 2019 12:53 PM
Replying to Aaron Porter
...
I still have projects with an IT component, but my current role is outside of the IT organization and there are fewer layers between me and the executive team. My projects get more attention from the C suite, and I interact with them more frequently, giving me a better opportunity to develop relationships with them.
Interesting! That's exactly what my current assignment is, as well.
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