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Alan Garvey
Alan Garvey
Alan Garvey, Managing Director, EMEA and Asia, ESI International, leads a regional team of professionals who are responsible for all aspects of ESI learning programme development and

How to Enhance your Engineering Career through Project Management:5 Steps to Career Success

March 19th, 2014 by Alan Garvey

The field of engineering is unthinkable without projects. Learning to manage them well is the first key to a successful, sustainable career.

As any project manager worth his salt knows, it requires planning and dedication to make the transition into a project management position.

A popular approaching to launching one’s career is to take some kind of training.

But before jumping into a project management training course, consider the steps below.

1.  Define your focus

Most people have a vague understanding of project management, but they aren’t clear on the details, the role’s requirements or the most suitable position to obtain.

The first step is to do your homework so you have some insights into how project management works in your particular sector. Project management is about managing projects. How would it benefit you?

2.  Learn everything you can about project management and the role

Project management has become a formal discipline with tons of literature to help new professionals find their footing. Immerse yourself in the subject – read and devour everything you can. Tap into online project management communities. Ask questions. Take advantage of free online resources that contain whitepapers, blog posts, webinars and information on your nearest conference.

3.  Apply informal project management to the job

Project management is merely about applying a set of techniques – technical or otherwise – to help you accomplish your work. Most likely, you have been conducting ‚informal’ project management in your job every day. Perhaps you haven’t been using terms such as ’stakeholder management’ or ‚strategic planning’,  but that doesn’t mean you haven’t been managing projects all along.  Continuous learning, both formal and informal, can help you improve the principles and practices you may have read about in the project management literature you have picked up along the way.

Keep adding new things into your daily work routine that you’ve learned from project management and you’ll be ready to move to the next step.

4.  Formalise your knowledge acquisition

By this point, you’ve already been using the principles of project management to help you do your current role better. Now it is time to consider formal project management training.

With all the work you have done in the first three steps, you should now have a better idea about which core elements of project management you need to learn to enhance your engineering career.

Do you need to understand estimating or scheduling better? Or is writing business cases and gaining approval more important? Perhaps it’s your softer skills like team management or conflict management that needs focus?

Once you’ve really immersed yourself in the world of project management, you will realise just how small the part about learning the methodology is.

Training that focuses on the key competencies of project management will ensure that your investment won’t be wasted.

5.  State your case – and make it happen

By this point you are probably still working in your non-project management role that uses informal project management to do it better.

The next step is to start making the case that you’re ready to either move on to a project-centric role in your current organisation, or leave and find an opportunity elsewhere.

You will be able to write and talk about your current experiences now in a project-centric way – using common project terminology.

You will have a clearer idea about the competencies required to make it as a project professional, yet be realistic as to where you are today.

You’ve also invested in training to make it happen – a clear statement of your motivation and intent.

When trying to break into project management there needs to be recognition that it is a popular career choice for many people. To stand out from the thousands of certified newbies, you have to take a different approach.

You can start today, regardless of your job, by adopting the principles and basic techniques of project management in your everyday work.

Bolster this approach with formal project management training – being careful to select training which will support what you are trying to achieve rather than just giving you an accreditation.

The next steps are bringing those two together. Create a strong resumé and build your network.

Start applying for positions within the engineering industry that require project-centric thinking.

Be open to opportunities lurking any and everywhere. Project management opportunities often come in the least expected places.


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Category: ESI Group

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