I attended an excellent event last night hosted by the Association for Project Management (APM) and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) at the new Trinity Square development in Gateshead. It was fantastic to see the progress of regeneration in the area but also very interesting to speak to project management professionals in the property development arena.
Networking at the event provided some valuable insight; not least that it re-enforced my belief that project & programme management is a profession which transcends specific business domains.
By this I mean that the essence of good project and programme management is the management of change; the principles which underpin this hold true whether that change is technology-driven, process-oriented, cultural, or a transformation of the built environment.
Conversely many employers still advertise project and programme management roles almost as an adjunct to the business/problem domain, e.g. "project manager required with 20 years' experience in a healthcare environment", "programme manager required for major transformation initiative, must have detailed expertise of EMEA Corporate Tax Law" etc.
To my mind these employers either don't fully appreciate what project and programme management is about or perhaps what they are really looking for is a business domain subject matter expert who happens to be well-organised!
I would argue that one of the key differences between a good or OK project or programme manager and a great one is that ability to transcend business domains, build great project teams (which include the required subject matter experts) and bring about the change programmes required to deliver the strategic objectives / outcomes required of the project.
In this respect there are parallels in project management with the professions of consultancy and business analysis. Neither consultants nor business analysts can be experts in every business domain they work in...what they can be, however, is experts at quickly assimilating the level of knowledge required to deliver their brief.
I think it was Einstein that said "The true genius is not the person who knows the answer to every question, rather the person who knows where to find the answer to every question"...perhaps that could be your rejoinder the next time you are faced with the statement "Well your project management skills look excellent, but I don't see where you have the experience in [add business domain of your choice here]"...?