Project management is a typically challenging, yet rewarding career path – best suiting those with a natural flair for leadership, problem-solving, and business strategy. Those in this field focus on seeing business projects to completion, helping manage its finances, schedule, quality, resources, and potential risks. The industry offers clear and expansive career progression, with varying projects of all lengths, types, and sizes that form an incredibly dynamic and innovative employment sector.
With Australian government now pouring billions to fund the economy post-COVID-19, helping give rise to new jobs and business opportunities – the demand of project managers is expected to skyrocket. Areas of healthcare, professional services, and construction are predicted to experience the largest boost in project management hires. By 2027, the country is expected to see an additional 100,000 project manager roles to fill the spike in demand.
Now is the ideal time to pursue a career in the sector. Aspiring project managers (or those looking to explore the field) will find the top three qualities for success below – and how online training at AIICT can help.
A STRATEGIC BUSINESS MINDSET
A project manager must firstly possess excellent business skills and strategic abilities. This includes being able to plan for risk and effectively mediate issues as they crop up. Professionals in this field are excellent problem-solvers, skilled in “thinking on their feet” and addressing a wide variety of unexpected disputes, problems, and conflicts during the project lifecycle. This involves the ability to “see the bigger picture”, helping them pre-emptively manage risks and plan accordingly towards their ultimate goals, while also accounting for the nitty-gritty details (i.e. individual tasks, subtasks, and milestones).
Of course, critical thinking must be balanced with creativity – another strategic business skill of any project manager. Not only do they have the capacity to analytically plan and execute each step of their given assignment – but they’re also capable of thinking “out of the box” and implementing new (and possibly more effective) ways of achieving their targets.
Additionally, the best project managers remain stakeholder-focused at all times, regardless of personal bias needs or bias. Stand-out candidates in this field are professional businesspeople, and as such, are able to separate their personal matters from their commitment to project stakeholders. Though the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly made this a challenge, successful project managers can deliver their best performance, nonetheless.
Business projects have also grown in complexity due to the global pandemic, with companies now having to account for (both internal and external) factors that can negatively impact a project. This includes legal restrictions, remote project issues, international conflicts, and economic factors. While the field continues to value those with the ideal soft skills, the formal project management training to address these aspects is now a widely recommended advantage. According to Peter Sexton, a partner at KPMG: “…When hiring project management staff, our respondents clearly indicated a preference for candidates with relevant qualification and/or certification.”
EXCELLENT LEADERSHIP AND COMMUNICATION
The ability to successfully manage a project comes with fine leadership and communication skills. Project managers must demonstrate the ability to effectively lead, motivate, and inspire their teams. This involves the ability to properly delegate tasks among workers, leveraging those with specific knowledge and skills for appropriate, well-suited roles within the project. You must also ensure each team member has a clear understanding of what is expected of them, as vague responsibilities can often lag or cause conflict amidst project progress.
Of course, being a good leader also comes with being a skilled motivator. It’s important to give generous credit when and where it’s due, encouraging workers to give their best work at all times. Instilling confidence in the minds of your sponsors and stakeholders is also just as important as boosting drive within your team, as these people are just as invested in the success of your project. Gaining their trust can also benefit you in situations where changes in the scope, details, or budget of a project may need to be requested.
Finally, excellent communication is a must. A successful project manager must be able to clearly articulate their ideas, helping accurately guide their team towards their final “vision”. This includes being able to explain technical concepts in “plain language” for those who lack specific business expertise. The ability to effectively discuss, persuade, and negotiate helps ensure everyone’s on the same page and have the same understanding of project expectations.
Active listening skills are also crucial, as this allows you to absorb the feedback of others and build awareness of your blind spots or limitations. By openly communicating to all project stakeholders, you’ll be better able to pinpoint potential risks, resolve conflicts, and learn from the knowledge or experiences of those around you.
PERSEVERANCE AND ADAPTABILITY
Lastly (though most certainly not least), successful project managers possess high levels of perseverance and adaptive capabilities. Should issues crop up in the project lifecycle, these professionals have the flexibility and sturdiness to weather them through. They’re willing to face problems head-on, rather than shying away or getting swept up in the unexpected chaos.
This goes hand-in-hand with effective leadership, as project managers must retain an optimistic, driven mindset despite unpredicted setbacks. Having a strong, inspiring vision helps – as this allows you to continue motivating team members amidst challenging times. Enthusiasm is contagious; and the best project managers leverage this to inspire the same grit in their workers.
Additionally, with the increasing emergence of new technologies, those in the field must learn to adapt and implement these tools in their work.
A 2019 report by The Future of Project Management: Global Outlook states that 71% of businesses now use specialised software to improve the management process and control of company projects and programs. With COVID-19 boosting usage of online technologies, the project management field is very likely to adopt these tools for greater productivity and business continuity.
In some industries, this technological change is mandatory by regulation. Building commissions, for example, now require digital models to be submitted to local governments, ensuring their design and engineering procedures are up to standard.
Professionals must thus be agile enough to upskill accordingly, ensuring their abilities stay relevant, competitive, and employable in our increasingly digitised landscape. Fortunately, there are now plenty of online training and certification options to help one advance their industry knowledge and skills as necessary.
PURSUING A PROJECT MANAGEMENT CAREER?
With increasing demand for workers and digitally-relevant skills, the project management field offers plenty of new, expanding opportunities for those aspiring to the field.
Individuals can start building their skills today through The Australian Institute of ICT (AIICT)’s Certified Project Management Professional course – a 3-month program that delves into the fundamental skills required of modern-day project managers. Students will learn the technical methodologies of Scrum, AgilePM, and PRINCE2; specific frameworks now commonly (and internationally) used in today’s businesses.
Those who complete the course graduate with a certification under each framework, equipping them with the competitive edge they need on the job market.
Best of all, the course is delivered completely online, allowing you to tailor your studies around personal needs and schedule.
Join an ever-growing sector in Australia today, and enquire with us on the course.