There were plenty of questions about project management at last week’s womenintechnology event on how to be a successful woman in IT. Mainly people were interested in how to break into project management. I’ve written an article on this topic over at Projects@Work, if you’d like my take on what you need to do to land a job.
The panel, made up of technology, project and programme managers from JPMorgan, as well as the main speaker, Helen Duguid from Do-Good Consulting, took a question about qualifications as well. It’s hard to advise on what qualifications you need to succeed but the general consensus was that taking a project management qualification, if you have the opportunity, is a good thing.
Stephanie Talbot, a programme manager lead, said that women make great project managers because they can talk, think and write, and they are good with people. I’ve worked with some great male project managers who can do all those things, and I know some women who can’t organise their own Christmas shopping, but if we’re going to generalise then I agree with her.
Maxine Varney suggested that if career advancement is what you are looking for, then getting some project and programme experience is incredibly valuable. She reasoned that a lot of the ‘straightforward’ tasks like coding are being off-shored or outsourced. There is a growing demand for project and programme managers, so the ability to demonstrate leadership and project management skills is key.
The panel were also asked to provide their one top tip for getting ahead. I can only remember Maxine’s: go shopping. Keep your personal style but accept that people judge you in the first few seconds of any meeting. Clothes and shoes, however uncomfortable we may feel about this, are an important part of people’s perception of us. How pleased was I that I was sitting in the front row in my best suit and shiny shoes. She got a round of applause for that advice – the only spontaneous response of the evening. Put a group of senior, professional, successful women in a room, and they still manage to turn the conversation round to shopping.