What does it take to be a project management pro?
Published: 02 Nov 2015
You’ve worked in engineering for years and accomplished great things. Perhaps it’s time to take your career to the next level with a move into management? You may have already had some experience directing teams as a field engineer, which will stand you in good stead as you take your next step. There are different directions you can take to move into management, but in this article we’re going to talk about project management; what it entails, what skills it requires and the benefits of taking this path.
What does a Project Manager do?
You’ll most likely have worked with Project Managers already and will have some understanding of what the role entails. At the most basic level, the job title is self-explanatory – they’ll manage a project from start to finish, and once it’s over they’ll move onto another. This differs from an Engineering Manager, who will work on various projects but stay on the same team and have other engineers reporting directly to them, in a more hands-on role; responsible for their particular part of the project rather than having ownership of the overall endeavour.
The project manager will plan, organise and lead every aspect of the project, coming up with a realistic schedule and ensuring the work is on time and on budget, as well as adjusting both to meet the realities of engineering projects, which are often complex and throw up unforeseen challenges. They need to keep a close eye on how each part of the project is progressing and be an able communicator, as they’ll have to coordinate and direct a variety of teams. Should a problem arise, the Project Manager must communicate this to the company’s management and be able to present potential solutions.
What attributes do they need?
Project Managers need to be highly organised, thorough, able to multi-task and keep a cool head under pressure. They’ll also need to have excellent communication skills to build a rapport with the leaders of various teams and be able to ensure effective cooperation between them, as well as being able to deal confidently with the higher echelons of their own company and negotiate with contractors and suppliers. Finally, they’ll need great judgement, as the Project Manager will need to delegate many tasks and be confident in the ability of the colleagues they are entrusting with responsibilities.
What are the rewards?
The average pay for a Project Manager in engineering is £42,607 a year, which means it’s possible to earn significantly more than that figure, depending on your employer and level of experience. Project Managers may work under contract to one company or can often work freelance. There are also project management consultancies. Asides from this remuneration, taking a job in management is also an important step to reaching even more senior positions in engineering firms, from Business Manager to Operations Director. Many people find a job in project management, and the responsibility that comes with it, very satisfying, with the added perk that once a project is completed successfully, the Project Manager often gets a great deal of credit.
Looking for a job in project management?