Nearly 12 years ago, I embarked on my professional journey as a full-stack web application developer and gradually transitioned into the role of an IT project manager in Nepal. During all these years, I learned how to climb the ladder from being a web developer and designer to a team leader, and ultimately a project manager. My journey taught me how to deal with uncertainty. Rather than being fearful of various project challenges, I embraced them and made sure to give myself ample amounts of time on research and seeking guidance from colleagues, juniors and seniors. Gathering knowledge from various sources became imperative for the ultimate responsibility lay in accomplishing the task at hand and this helped me to successfully succeed in my job requirements. Although moments of feeling inexperienced were common, I recognized that every educator was once a student. I used the lesson to remain resilient and prioritize solutions. By approaching tasks with a relaxed mindset, I realized this defused the complexity of the projects and I could direct my efforts towards achieving my objectives.
I was able to enrich my work experience in Nepal through collaboration with skilled individuals, which improved my ability of project management and effective leadership. I believe that a true team leader will focus on creating leaders and a true project manager will find a proper guideline to achieve that goal. Hence, I have always stayed focused on managing the project from start to finish, while also making sure my team had their share of fun while they worked. Talking to them casually as an equal, giving them respect and the benefit of doubt when necessary has created a trusting and loyal bond between us. Organizing team-building activities and listening to their problems and opinions has provided them with comfort during their work as they can rely on me to not be overlooked and given any kind of unnecessary work pressure. I’m confident that if the team is happy, the tasks will be completed, and subsequently the target deadlines will be met and as a result, we will have a satisfied product owner/client. This is the main achievement of a project manager; to be a strong and reliable bridge between all entities of a project lifecycle.
A year ago, I moved to the UK where I now work as a Project Delivery Manager at the University of the West England (UWE) where I apply my expertise in leadership and project management. I found out that despite the geographical and logistical differences, the fundamental approach to team collaboration remained consistent. It's more crucial to understand the team than to understand the project requirements. As a leader and a project manager, one needs to keep a balance between guiding/inspiring and controlling as there is a fine line in between them.
Embracing the unfamiliar, I proactively inquired, studied, and adapted to the work culture. Having a technical background in computer engineering facilitated my understanding of both the worlds — project management and technical development. As long as you know how to learn, you will be able to pick up your work anywhere, anytime with anyone.
While working in Nepal, I found comfort in communicating in our native language. However, managing projects and teams mirrored practices in the UK and I often referred to this as "distinct tools, yet shared patterns." Essentially, regardless of the differences in workplace dynamics, colleagues and projects, the approach to handling them remained consistent. Naturally, modification and changes in work methods could occur with time, which is a vital quality a proficient project manager should have who understands the agile and considerate mindset.
Upon relocating to Bristol, UK, I began to observe the heightened level of understanding among colleagues and the opportunities of self-development possibilities. I was granted enhanced resources and educated in diverse project management methodologies, a contrast from my experience in Nepal. My current work environment has maintained an admirable standard of inclusivity, diversity and a zero-tolerance stance on discrimination or harassment. This truly showcased the dedication and enthusiasm of individuals towards their roles. The impartial treatment and equal opportunities I've encountered in the UK were among the most remarkable aspects of my journey.
Whether operating in Nepal or the UK, from my experience these principles stand beneficial for present and future project managers:
- Aspiring IT project managers should engage with IT projects within a company or individually. This experience offers an understanding of the complexities arising throughout project execution, essential for understanding the team's journey and strategically planning project timelines and milestones.
- Develop leadership qualities involving the role of safeguarding the team against external disruptions like client interactions, lengthy meetings and unrelated discussions. Embrace challenging decisions.
- Pursue project management certifications such as PRINCE2 or PMP to enhance knowledge about standard industry practices.
- Attain Agile Scrum Master certification to grasp the agile mindset, vital in today's market. Implement this approach to manage work and people effectively.
- Cultivate politeness and patience in communication and work. Embrace challenges and compromises, placing the project and team's welfare ahead of personal ego.
- Develop a problem-solving approach by engaging with both junior and senior team members. Exchange knowledge through teaching and learning.
- Remain active within your areas of interest. Continue learning through online resources, seminars and interactions with peers.
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