Where Can a Project Manager Go From Here?

As inevitably happens at the beginning of a new year, with all the thoughts about resolutions, a few colleagues and acquaintances have been examining their jobs and careers.

Some are considering entirely new fields, like the lady who is considering leaving her IT  job to open a hip Bakery because bread has always been her passion.  Or the chap who is thinking about turning his corporate strategy expertise into strategy for  a non-profit organization.  While I was considering these various cases, along came a friend with her own dilemma.  Let’s call her ‘Maria’.

Maria is the office manager for a small business and, as is often the case with small businesses, did so much more than just managing the office.  She fixed problems with  unhappy customers.  She coordinated travel schedules.  She orchestrated salesmen’s (and equipment) participation in trade shows. She even oversaw the installation of their first automated payroll system.

A few weeks ago Maria mentioned that there was an opening for ‘Event Planning Coordinator’ which she considered her dream job.  Lots of travel and interesting events of all kinds.  No way would they consider an Office Manager for that position, she thought.  I told her in truth she was not an Office Manager, but a Project Manager.  And events were just a different flavor of project:  They had a distinct beginning and an end; they required her to stick to a budget; they meant coordination of resources; often they needed change management.

Maria saw the parallels too, and filled her job application describing her projects as events.  She was complimented for being such a well-rounded candidate (after coordinating a payroll migration, a trade show in Las Vegas should be easy!) and got the job.  So really, Project Managers can be successful in any field that requires the deployment of limited resources for a specific end, with a prescribed amount of time and money.  Including not-so-obvious fields such as Cruise Director, Wedding Planner and Disaster Relief Coordinator.  Now, I wonder if I can come up with parallels between managing projects and a Bakery…

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