07 Mar IWD from a female business leaders perspective
Is a career in project, programme or portfolio management a good choice?
My first reaction? Of-course , why on earth not?
From a personal perspective I have loved every moment – and still do after more than 20 years!
Of-course, there have been moments when I thought “can I do this?” “Do I have the confidence, the skills and experience?” “Will I be listened to – as a woman?”
And that was my biggest mistake – I should have been thinking – “Do I have the confidence, the skills and experience, will I be listened to – as a project and programme manager?” Not questioning my credentials as a woman.
Those who knew me 20 years ago will agree that I’m quietly spoken, I had youngish children then, quite petite in stature (certainly shorter than my male counterparts) when I fell into my second career in the 90s I definitely wasn’t a typical project or programme manager – I was female for a start.
As with many of my colleagues at the time, both male and female, I hadn’t intended any change in career, I was a senior manager, a Charterer Insurer managing a large regulatory department but then along came some significant regulatory and transformative programmes – and guess who was in the firing line to make them happen?
I never looked back – the variety, the team building, the stakeholder engagement, building relationships with people from different industries, being a sponsor. And when we delivered successfully and achieved the benefits – what more could you want?
Sounds easy and a very rosy picture – doesn’t it? Of course as with any career you have to gain the knowledge, the experience, both the good and the less good to learn from, and be prepared to work– but it was worth it!
At the beginning there were times when I thought can I really do this? Being the only women in room full of board members and senior managers – all male – can be a bit daunting. Could I convince them I knew what I was talking about, that the programme status and subsequent actions I was advising was the best approach? And importantly, that their business critical programme was safe in my hands?
Well I must have. I am still in the profession – 25 years later.
You may be wondering what did (still do), and how did I overcome any concerns – perhaps more importantly what tips can I share for today’s project managers?
In no particular order – just 3 for now:
- Be certain of your information – checking your information and being certain of its validity will mean you will give the impression of confidence (even if you don’t feel it!)
- If you have done your homework – remember that you know as much, if not more, about your project or programme as others in the room, and
- Everyone feels like you at some point in your career – they just might have forgotten that small fact! I know I did.
If you would like to know more, please drop me a line. You can contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org