Becoming a Project Manager

Idel, you have switch to the dark side .

Did I really? If you read my old intro page, I was a programmer or software developer by profession for around 15 years till , as my colleague said, switch to the dark side which is Project Management.

The BIG Question now .. WHY DID I SWITCH??

To say it bluntly, because it was something new for me and a BIG challenge. As a Software Engineer, I don’t have to deal with human interaction. I only need my PC , my code and as long as I have all the requirement needed I’m happy in nice corner of the virtual world writing my codes.

Why Project Management?

One thing I like about my company, is the opportunity to try other career paths. I mentioned to my manager that I was interested in Product Management moving forward with my career. I want to give it a try before deciding on becoming a tech lead.

BUT mid 2016, a project which some of my teammates are working on was in trouble. They needed someone to be able to communicate with the team in India, Tokyo and Osaka. Someone who understands the system and can speak both Japanese and English. It was a temporary thing. One week later, Project Sponsor asked me to be full time Project Manager for the project. It was a scary request since I don’t have any idea about the role itself. My choice was a “YES” or a “yes”. I choose the latter of course.

As Boss Panda mentioned ,” Try Fast, Fail Fast” I plunge head on and I have never looked back ever since.

What skills do you need to be a good Project Manager?

This is the very common question I get and to be honest I don’t have a direct answer. This always gives me a pause.

If you need to understand Project Management : PMP, Prince 2 and so on are all available online. There are also lots on training in Udemy , Pluralsight and so on. You can even get certificates to prove that you have the basic knowledge. I don’t have those certificates except for the one offered in the company itself.

BUT is it enough to say you are a good project manager? Definitely not.

Success of the Project is of course the priority as a PjM BUT how you get there is also important. PjMs are not people manager BUT we need to work closely with all the stakeholders so having a good communication , trust among each member is one of the things we need to established.

We work closely with different managers to keep the team motivated, resolve any conflict. We also need to gather information timely to make decision making faster and accurate as possible. We need to be aware of each member cultural background to avoid stepping or offending someone’s culture.. etc. These are just some the interpersonal skills that I have to cultivate to improve.

You need to find a balance between your hard and soft skills to make sure you are leading the project team in the right direction. In this regards, it’s a constant improvement. I’m constantly learning from all the people I have worked with.

Will I ever go back as an Engineer?

As of this writing, maybe not BUT even though I don’t write codes anymore, I still prefer working with Software Engineers and learning about new technologies they are working.

It’s fun working with different team and different individuals. Being a PjM, I get to be able to do this. It’s not easy, it’s even frustrating and annoying sometimes that you want to pull out your hairs. But at the end of the day, you work together as a team and deliver something good.

What’s next for you?

Since last year, I have joined in-house training group to train employees in Project Management. This was also another challenge which I enjoyed a lot. It was scary, giving training, mentoring members and even giving final reviews. BUT meeting all these people, working with different senior project managers is really a great way to learn. Everyday you learn something new, for now that is enough, who knows in the next few years.

Till then.


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