Deepa Bhide, DCH, PMP, is associate vice president of research at Cotiviti in Hyderabad, India.
Bouncing Back After Baby
How female project managers can return to the workforce after time away.
By Deepa Bhide, DCH, PMP
needed empathy and offer practical solutions. Be
candid with your mentor about challenges you
see and stresses you feel. It will help her provide
valuable suggestions for deftly balancing work
4. Get the right support. Successful project
delivery can require intense focus. It’s easy to start
feeling out of balance. So be sure to get the support you need, such as flexible work hours, flexible
child care hours and job shares. Don’t be afraid to
delegate work at home just as you would on a project at work—strong time management skills are a
must-have for working moms.
The bottom line for getting back into the groove:
Trust your abilities, accept change, seek help and
create a reliable support structure for yourself. And
remember that stakeholders at work likely won’t be
as demanding as a newborn child. PM
A long queue at the grocery store one day allowed me and a young woman to strike up a conversa- tion. It turned out we were both project managers—and the chat
quickly turned serious. Although the woman had
swiftly and successfully ascended the corporate
ladder, she was apprehensive. She was nearing the
end of a long maternity leave, and the time away
from the office had rattled her confidence.
The feeling is common among mothers going
back into the workforce. Here are four tips for preventing time away from feeling like a handicap.
1. Remain confident. You might feel out of touch
with project management—women tend to suffer
from a lack of professional confidence more often
than men, according to Bain & Co. research. But
remember that your skills are valuable, and realize
that you might have improved some skills while
away from work. Childbirth and rearing a child are
among the hardest tasks anyone can undertake;
taking care of a baby or child calls for consummate
project management skills. Viewing a workforce
“sabbatical” as time spent honing a skill set can
boost confidence and your ability to succeed.
2. Prepare to adapt. It’s important to expect and
accept changing dynamics in the organizational
and project landscape. First, acknowledge that
your workplace (and any long-term projects you
were working on) have likely changed—and that
adapting to change is an increasingly valuable skill
in the project management world. Flexible communication, time management, negotiation and risk
management skills are needed to adjust to the new
normal. Use your re-entry into the organization to
prove you know how to quickly adapt to change.
3. Seek a mentor. Sharing your concerns with
other female project professionals in the organization can be helpful. Women who have been
through similar experiences can provide much-
rearing a child
are among the
of a baby or
child calls for
MARCH 2017 PM NETWORK 25
Getting It Done PROJECT MANAGEMENT IN ACTION