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I am a newbie in PM role right now and would like to know that what are the various levels of growth?

  • I am 25 in age and 2 months veteran in PM role. What would be my goal in next 2 years?

  • When should I make a switch (after how many years of experience in PM role)?

Thanks!

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Welcome to the ranks of project management! You're in an interesting place a lot of us are not going to have direct correlation to. For example, I had already been working in various high tech roles for over a decade when I backed into project management. We're really only seeing project management as a career path starter recently.

The first major question is, what do you want to do? In ten years, what do you want to be doing? Is PM an entry to high tech, or a career path? Is the company you're at where you want to stay for a long time?

My advice is to develop breadth of skills. Work on as many different kinds of projects as you can and learn about every aspect of the business you can. The nature of project management is not disimilar to general operations. A strong PM, with good interpersonal skills and broad knowledge of how a company runs could easily become the COO of a company.

So for the next two years, focus on being the best you can be in the role you are. Develop good people skills and understand how everything works. If in two years, people come to you because they know you'll know the answer, then you've become valuable. Valuable is what will take you to the next step.

I wouldn't worry right now on if you want to go the path to manage a team, stay an IC, or even move job roles. Focus on the soft skills and overall knowledge while focusing on the project team.

And learn. Learn for all of us that have made the mistakes already. I write a blog on that concept, and several others around here are great sources of wisdom to learn from.

Welcome.

  • 2
    Valuable is what will take you to the next step.- +1 – RG-3 Mar 2 '12 at 15:18
  • Well to answer your question: I want to see myself like a Director of Software Development in some mid size company. Where my PM skills can provide some inputs. I am not keen on sitting at one company forever. My maximum stay will be couple of yr. Thats all. If I see I am not growing in this firm, I will make a switch. I think I am developing variety of skills right now. Like I am having 4 projects under me (in 2 weeks). I am juggling between developers and clients...Dont have time to sit in my desk and relax (Phew!). – RG-3 Mar 2 '12 at 19:07
  • Then I hands down recommend Manager-Tools.com. If you want to be a manager in the future, these podcasts will give you the blocking and tackling tools you will need. – Joel Bancroft-Connors Mar 2 '12 at 21:33
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I am 1 year veteran in PM role so I can say in quite similar position as you are. I will not give you any experienced advice, but just to share my perspective of what I am trying to achieve, learn, how to progress, etc.

First and I think most important, before any thinking about what after two or ten years, is to stay focused on simply made my projects successful! If I don't make my first couple of projects successful I will not have any chance to have other projects. And I don't want to say that plan for future move and direction of carries is not important, but I think in first year or two, this is just the other think, not the most important one.

While 'taking care' of point one, I am trying to learn as much of new things as possible. It means if there is some project, activity or anything that you have not done before, just take it. And there is a lot of them, which are boring and unpleasant for senior PMs, so you can get them for free. I am sure that at 90% these will be boring and unpleasant for you too, but you will hopefully learn a lot from them.

After some time - for somebody it could be one year, for somebody else 5 years - you get into daily routine in PM and just before this happens, it's a time to think about some move. I intentionally wrote 'just before this happens' as I think everybody has some instincts that say it to yourself before it actually happens. Where to move its completely upon your preferences. Some of the possible moves as I see them are as follows: director or site leader, product manager, PM in different area or of course back to position before you have become PM :) I hope that the last item will not happen to you...

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Project Management can be a lifelong career. Several career paths within the domain:

  • Do similar sized projects in new domains.

  • Do larger projects.

  • Lead teams of project managers in support of larger programs.

The first two are reasonable for you in 2 years. The third may take a while.

A few things to consider:

  • There is a big focus on Doing. PMs that just measure lack respect jn the organization.

  • Even if Project Management is your specialty, you need to develop knowledge of the area you are managing. If not you won't be able to make good decisions. A content plus B PM skills beats B content and A PM skills. If either area is a C, you're in deep trouble.

  • Have fun and jump into what interests you.

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I would not think about that most of the time. I would, every day in my work as project manager, prove you can handel the pressure and especially that you are an effective planner. You will be noticed that way. Being dedicated and have a good sense of responsabilities helps. If there is some objective evaluation rules or process in your compagny, lucky you. You can go to your human ressources department and ask what they are. But you will always have to prove your abilities. But your manager went through it already, earlier in his career, so he or she knows what you are going through and will have an eye on you. So, if you face some difficulties, do not hesitate to counsult him.

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Make sure you have metrics.

Ideally these metrics should be based on business value because it's the easiest way to demonstrate competency that the business people will understand. At the end of the day, they will be the ones deciding if you get your promotion or not.

So don't make them guess.

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