Friday, September 13, 2013

Project Management with Experience: Using your personal experiences in your career, by Pam Warren

My career didn't begin in project management. It took a lot of heartache and many dramatic changes to take me along that career path. Life-changing injuries from the Paddington Train Crash in 1999 drove me to become a master of reinvention and a catalyst for change in areas much further than just my personal life.

My previous career was in the financial services sector but this life defining event took me along a new pathway; one which has been hugely successful and valuable. As a project manager I am able to utilise my experiences, my diverse range of interests and offer a unique perspective on managing projects. Experience of managing unprecedented change in my own life led me to project management and there is no reason project managers on all levels can’t draw on their personal experiences to enhance their careers.
My Aha Moment really came when I realised I could turn the catastrophic events of my past into a positive thing for the future and support others who needed it.

Personal Skills in your Career

There are three key skills I've transferred from my personal experiences over the last decade or so and worked into my career. Successful project management is built upon a range of skills and below is a closer look at those I believe are key to my success.

Risk Management 

Understanding the complexity of projects and the realisation that they can change at any moment is key to risk management. Much like life a project can change direction at any moment and project managers need to have security nets, or plan B's in place plus the ability to adapt and mould with the project as it evolves.
An implicit understanding of such risks, developed in my own life, mean that I am always poised for change and able to adapt. This ensures the intended outcome is still achieved.

Planning and Control

Having a plan in place cannot be underestimated. It’s essentially the whole point of being a project manager. You put the plans in place to facilitate the project and ensure all the individuals involved are able to work to schedule.
As a project manager is it also important to create an environment where changes and developments are all fed back and, where there’s the need, corrective action is carried out. As with the first point project managers should constantly be reviewing, analysing and managing risk to ensure the project delivers ideal results.

Enthusiasm and Empathy

These two qualities are very different but equally important. My enforced insight of managing huge change and working with a wide range of inspiring individuals has given me the desire to provide the highest levels of project management for all my clients. I’m naturally enthusiastic, all project managers need this quality to build rapport with their team and satisfy their clients. Enthusiasm converts commitment into results.
Empathy is a key requirement that all people working with others need. Again, my experiences have given me the opportunity to work with people from all walks of life. I too have been provided with high levels of empathy from the people I have worked with during my recovery. Empathetic project managers understand there’s more to their team members lives than just the project. They can be adaptable around their needs and build projects that suit all and still provide the right results.

Pam Warren is an experienced and inspiring project manager. After overcoming life changing injuries from the Paddington Train Crash of 1999 - becoming known as 'The Lady in the Mask' - she retrained as a Prince 2 Practitioner project manager. She was the lead campaigner in securing a safer rail network for Britain and has since worked with a number of businesses and charities to help them achieve their goals and aspirations efficiently and effectively.

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