Job title: Service Improvement Manager
Company: British Library
Why Chartered status matters
- What did you do before you became a project manager? Prior to my current role, I had been an internal communications manager at the British Library, a role I had held for nine years.
- When and why did you become a project manager? I became a project manager around five years ago. I had worked on many project teams but it had always been my role to communicate any changes or new services. I was often frustrated that I wasn’t at the sharp end of the action so it seemed like a natural progression to shift my focus and manage the projects in their entirety, giving me much more control over their delivery.
- Do you have formal training in project management? If yes, what did you study and how has it helped you in your career? If no, what are the key project management skills you have learnt on the job? I am a qualified PRINCE2 practitioner. A formal qualification certainly helps as most projects within my organisation are delivered using PRINCE2 methodologies. It gives a structure to projects which colleagues understand.
- How has your background working in another profession helped (or hindered!) you as a project manager? My previous years as a communications manager have been invaluable to me. So much of successful project management is about good communication both within the project and more broadly.
- What advice would you give to someone considering a career in project management? Personally, I have found a great deal of job satisfaction in the project management role I have held. I’ve been involved in some really interesting projects delivering new services and spaces within the British Library.
For anyone thinking about a career in project management, I believe there are three keys things you need to be successful. Firstly, you need to be organised as you’ll need to keep track of a number of workstreams or activities, ensuring they are all heading in the right direction. You need to be a good communicator to ensure that projects deliver, this sometimes includes having the ‘tough conversations’ as it’s not always plain sailing. You also need to be good with people. It’s the people who help you to deliver the end result and they will all have different skills and knowledge so it’s your job to ensure their skills are utilised. If you possess these skills then you’re part way there!
- The Association for Project Management is now the Chartered body for project management professionals and is developing a Chartered standard. What will Chartered Project Professional status mean to you in the future? Chartered status is a kitemark of quality which recognises practitioners’ professional experience and knowledge. I think this can only be a good thing as it has the potential to raise the standards of project management across the profession.
- Finally, what is the one item that you cannot live without and why (it doesn’t need to be project management-related!?) Wine! It’s also a secret weapon for any project team. A trip to the pub as a team-building exercise or celebration for a job well done is always worthwhile.