a new project, new team, new stakeholders and new
customers. The only way to navigate the newness is
to talk to the right people and find out what is going
on in and around your project. With a multidisciplinary project, it’s imperative that you spend time
with all the people who make up the different disciplines and seek out information that will help you
plan and manage your project moving forward.
Q: I’m a project manager, and I’ve talked to my
friend about my career. He loves the idea of
becoming a project manager himself. Any practical advice I can give him?
A: The first and easier part of getting into project
management is gaining the necessary knowledge.
He can use training courses, books and websites to
begin studying the principles of project management:
the tools, processes, techniques, etc. Making this
switch also generally demands some kind of management experience. If he doesn’t have any experience
managing teams, he may have to think about other
positions within project management that don’t necessarily need management experience on day one.
The next and hardest part is getting the first
break. Hiring managers want people with knowledge and experience. So how do first-timers get
a break? There are three main ways: One, they
catch a lucky opportunity, such as an organization
Q: I just got an offer for a project lead position,
and it will be my first time handling a multidisciplinary project. What advice can you give me?
I have my Project Management Professional
A: First, congratulations! Many project management positions today involve multidisciplinary
projects, or projects that involve many departments, so you will be gaining experience that can
help your career. The key to working in this kind of
environment is finding the balance between keeping control of the project and keeping all interested
parties on board as the project progresses.
Like any first-time experience, starting this job
can be daunting, exciting, challenging and nerve-racking. Yet this is what you have trained to do. The
project processes and techniques that enable control
and the management of people are important com-petencies that those earning the PMP® credential
must demonstrate. So in the initial stages of your
new role, pull in your experience, knowledge and
training, trusting that the foundations you lay down
in the new project are based on good practice. It
comes down to confidence in your own abilities.
In a new role, remember that while you may be
on a steep learning curve, you don’t have to be on
the curve alone. As you settle into the role, seek
out a more experienced person to become your
sounding board. Just having the opportunity to
sanity-check some of your decisions or get a second opinion will help you feel more confident in
what you are doing.
Finally, I think the most essential thing any
project manager can remember—but particularly
practitioners with multidisciplinary projects—is to
communicate. You are in a new organization, with
From shifting careers to handling new types
of projects, change can bring opportunity.
BY LINDSAY SCOTT