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Good Questions: It would have been much better if you did address your questions each in a separate discussion thread because you will get better feedback on each question. Anyways, below are the answers to your questions from my professional perspective:
1) From 1 - 10, professional development and continuous learning is a 10. With the rapidly changing world, it is very important to stay on top of things and for you to be able to stand out, you need to go above and beyond. Experience is of course important and go hand in hand with professional development so you need to strike a balance between having the right experience and continuous learning that complements this experience and extends it.
2) Mentorship is very important at some point in your career especially at the outset. You can either consult the services of a professional coach or mentor in the field (Sessions are usually in the range of $130 USD per session) or check with your local PMI chapter if they have a volunteer mentorship program but be careful, do your due diligence and make sure to connect with the right mentor that has the right experience so he or she can efficiently and effectively guide you.
3) Of course and these days it is more important than ever. It doesn't hurt if you specialize in one field but you also need to be a generalist "Being a jack of all trades but master of none".
4) As a fresh graduate, CAPM is a great start as it will give you a good amount of knowledge about project management and it is designed for this purpose and for students, PMI have a certification called: PMI for Beginners.
5) It always helps for sure especially when you are dealing with international settings and different cultures although I find English to be the most dominant language.
6) Leadership is something that is born within a person and is nurtured by experience so the short answers is: Experience. Like they say: "Good Judgement comes from experience and experience comes from Bad Judgement".
7) That's a very open ended question and the answer varies depending on the field, industry, project, ambitions and so on but as a minimum a PM should have:
Hard Skills: Level of technical skills that is good enough from the PM to be able to make sense of estimates, value engineering, schedules and so on. In addition to that, of course Project Management and Analytical skills.
Soft Skills: Effective Communication, Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, Adaptability, Teamwork, Problem Solving and Decision Making.
Hope this helps answer your questions.
Extremely grateful for the top-notch responses. The reason I put the questions as a series rather than one for each discussion is that I considered them more "bite-sized" in nature. What are the particular questions you suggestion would need its own discussion thread?
For the most part, I agree with Rami's feedback to your questions, Stephen. I feel each of these could be a separate discussion thread as there are enough active contributors in this community who'd likely have strong views on one or more of these :-)
On #3, I am skeptical that someone can simultaneously be effective in multiple industries/domains. While a transition from one type of project to another is doable with the right combination of self-learning, experience and mentoring, it would be difficult to be a truly effective PM if one is working off dated knowledge.
For #5, fluency in multiple languages can help, but cultural awareness and sensitivity is more important.
For #2, mentors are valuable at all stages of one's career path, but having the right expectations around the relationship and being paired up with the right mentor to achieve your objectives is critical.
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