Project manager or just ‘PM’ in daily language, is a role that can be a little broad in its definition to put it mildly. I am sure that from company to company you can find different definitions on the tasks and responsibilities contained in this role. Despite this, the role as PM (in my personal opinion) is both important and rewarding – especially when you as a Graduate get the chance to work in this role.
In the WDH family, this role more or less translates into “The girl/guy that get things done” and as such, the role on an operational level really does change from project to project and department to department. However, even though the operational tasks change from project to project the main responsibilities are the same – driving the project forward towards the goal aka: “Getting it done!”
Getting it done includes stakeholder management, change management, resource management… a whole lot of management. This mainly involves, keeping the overall goal in sight in a building full of experts whilst trying to get all of the stakeholders involved, moving in the same direction. Nobody said it was easy. In the beginning, this can seem a little overwhelming and I usually use the following metaphor to describe the situation.
Imagine that you are standing in the streets of New York for the first time. It’s rush hour. Cars everywhere. And people. Even bikes. Your task is to get in your car and drive across the city…. A task that at first glance borderlines the impossible.
You pull yourself together, get in the car, start the engine and take the first turn. You quickly discover that the task is easier if you take each turn as it comes, and not panic about the upcoming turns. This also allows you to have a much clearer focus on the goal or in this case – the destination. Along the way you will have different people giving you input, helping you with directions, reading the map etc. Sometimes you have stakeholders guiding you in the wrong direction. This does happen. However, if you have the end-destination clearly defined, you will know which stakeholders are helping you, and who is working against you.
So when driving a project aka, being a Project manager, you do not have to be a subject matter expert (at least not from the beginning) – but you do need to identify all relevant stakeholders that can help you move the project forward. And all stakeholders that could be working against you.
Luckily, my personal experience working as a graduate in the role of PM is that you mostly meet stakeholder type no. 1.
All the best,