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Ask James Caan – 10th May 2011 – Issue 47

Written by Kimberley Startup | May 10, 2011 | 0 Comments

This week, James advises a budding project manager on the prospects available to him. 

Dear Member,

This week I’m discussing the challenges facing someone looking to pursue a new career, thanks to an email from Freddie.

He writes:

‘I currently work for a major hotel chain. I have an interest in becoming a project manager and managing people.

‘I feel rather lost at the moment whether to top up my business degree with a MSC in project management or continue to work and do projects within the hotel. I also was selected to do an internal leadership course with my company and scored the second highest marks in my region’.

Freddie, a lot of businesses embrace project-based work. It’s an incredibly effective way to deliver change within an organisation, it can be applied to any industry and, if you’ve got your top people steering the work, it is a powerful way to deliver results.

In order to succeed as a project manager, you’ll need a number of traits to thrive both within the role and environment. Employers search for people who can work to key milestones, manage stakeholder expectations and work under pressure, not to mention the ability to deal with unexpected events.

To be recognised for having the right attributes to undertake a leadership course speaks volumes. It shows that your employer is behind you, committed to nurturing your talents and obviously thinking long-term, especially when training (and retaining) its people.

Studying for an MSc would do your application wonders, but it’s worth finding out if it is needed for the industry you eventually wish to operate in. In hindsight, it could potentially be an expensive move, especially when you could gain the necessary experience in the commercial world.

Project management is a very wide term. There are a number of areas, such as project administration, planning and portfolio management. This incredibly popular discipline is supported by many resources serving practitioners, associations, organisations and individuals.

Personally, I would recommend you spend some time on the Association for Project Management’s (APM) website, http://www.apm.org.uk/ to investigate whether you’re suited to the discipline. Spend some time talking to one of their representatives to assess what options you may be able to capitalise on in your present role.

I’d also suggest extending your search further into introductory-level accreditations and specialisms, for example if you’re interested in IT, have a look into Prince2 or ITIL certifications. You may even find there’s scope for your current employer to help fund a course.

Have you spoken to your employer regarding opportunities available to help gain these new skills? It may be worth scheduling a meeting with your manager to see what prospects may be available. If it’s a major hotel chain, my guess would be there’s a head office brimming with opportunities to get involved in for their star performers!

Whilst it is sometimes possible to find entry-level project management positions, it may be worth gaining relevant, commercial experience to build up your CV. Look for project assistant or project officer appointments to get your foot on the ladder, and to ultimately find out if it’s the right career path for you.

Best of luck,

James Caan

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