Project Management

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Transferable PM skills
Have you found moving from one industry to another, like from IT to construction to military to oil and gas, etc, PM skills are easily transferable? Do you lose or gain anything from moving from one industry to another?
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Hi. I've rarely directed programmes in the same industry and have moved many times over the past 25 years. I've found that stimulating. diverse, exciting and challenging (in a good way) with constant opportunities to learn and improve. I've learned that whole industries often have a culture (driven by many people staying within the same industry but moving between firms) and that one sector can learn a great deal from others.The upside is broad, deep experience. The downside is that many leaders (and recruiters) do not believe that skills are transferrable between sectors, therefore they won't hire people who bring something 'different', prefering to stick to people with experience only within their discipline/sector.
Like @Ian in the last 30 years I moved from software/system/IT which was my first domain to multiple and totally different domains inside the same organization (due to the organization had multiple business defined) and to others orgnizations. The key is, before you are assigned as project/program manager, perform elicitation. As @Ian stated at the end sometimes that is not valuable for recruiters but I firmly believe that it is because instead of searching for a project/program manager they are searching for somebody that perform that role and at the same time make the work the SMEs must do too.
Marcus -

While you may have a steep learning curve when switching domains, the more you can do to prepare for it in advance (e.g. researching common sources of risks, seeking a highly seasoned PM in that industry as a mentor) the easier it will be.

Recruiters and most hiring managers will always prefer someone who comes from the same domain so jumping might be challenging especially if you are doing it without a "warm" introduction.


my career led me from leading projects in utilities, retail, insurance, government, banking, electronics and automotive. I see this as cultural enrichment, exposure to different sets of priorities. It build my range of capabilities and perspectives (chose your WoW) as well as my habit of challenging beliefs.

I had 14 years of working in the trenches though (SW development, system engineering), on projects but not in charge of them.

I had no problem with adapting and being accepted as the person in charge, as I always gave the clients more safety than they had, more transparency, honesty, respect. They appreciated someone listening and asking questions and not trying to impose solutions from an industry expertise.

Did not have to sell this though, my (IBM) management sent me and said this is the guy. And I was it.

If project management wants to be a profession, it must be transferable.

@Ian, @Sergio, @Kiron, @Thomas, much appreciate the response. Many thanks for your valuable input.

@Thomas, I worked at IBM years ago in Toronto, but in a Business Analyst role. Years later I was hired by IBM as a QA Analyst in Calgary, but didn't take the job. Great place to work.

All soft skills are transferable. Any other skills would really depend on the overlap between industries, some are difficult, some even impossible.
@Anton, many thanks for your response.

@Markus great question! I think a lot of people have wondered the same thing. I'm excited to see what others have to say about their experience in this thread. Thank you everyone for your replies so far.

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