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Why Project Management is a Top Career Choice for Executives

Getting the right start in your career has become crucial as the world becomes more competitive. If you aspire to get an executive position, starting with a job in project management would be a good idea. 

What is project management?

Project management jobs broadly involve the day-to-day management of a project. It encompasses using specific knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to deliver an assigned project. These professionals are often designated as project managers. They ensure the timely completion of a project by their team.

What is the scope of project management? 

According to A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, “Managing the project scope is primarily concerned with defining and controlling what is and is not included in the project.”

The scope of project management primarily involves four stages: 

  1. Initiating: Once a project is assigned, the project manager has to define the project’s purpose, understand the business case, and its benefits, and create a project charter. These things have to be done based on consultation with stakeholders. 
  2. Planning: The next step is to properly plan the project. A project manager has a broader view of the project, hence based on the insights they have to create a plan of action. This includes coming up with key deliverables, setting deadlines, identifying major risks and obstacles, allocating resources, setting a budget, etc. 
  3. Executing and monitoring: After planning the project moves into the execution phase. Here the involvement is in creating a high-performance team, maintaining work plans and completion data, motivating individuals, and helping the team to complete the project whenever necessary.
  4. Closing: As the project comes to an end a project manager is tasked with looking at the business case, thanking the team, and providing individual team members’ feedback

Thus, the scope as mentioned above involves managing everything necessary for completing a project and also keeping a check on things that might delay the completion of the project. 

What skills are required in project management?

Here are some must-have skills for a career in project management.

  • Communication skills: Jobs in this field involves giving presentations, interacting with the team, managing stakeholders, etc., which makes good communication important.
  • Negotiation skills: Dealing with suppliers or customers is part of this job profile. This makes negotiation skills indispensable. 
  • Team management skills: In project management, a person has to work with a team to complete a project. Good team management helps complete the project smoothly. They should be able to properly delegate responsibilities, resolve conflict, evaluate performance, and motivate team members for the same.
  • Budget management skills: A project management professional is responsible for managing the budget of a project completely and has to justify wherever money is spent. 
  • Risk management skills: In project management, there can be many hurdles and risks. As a project manager, it is important to understand which risks to take which should be avoided.
  • Problem-solving skills: When managing a project, the person should be able to identify problem areas and come up with systematic ways to resolve them.

Why is project management the right path toward executive jobs? 

Executive positions consist of functional heads of the company such as the chief financial officer (CFO), the chief operating officer (COO), the chief information officer (CIO), and the chief executive officer (CEO). These executives oversee the overall happenings of the company. Project management professional takes a holistic approach at work, which qualifies them for an executive position after gaining the necessary experience. 

What is the general career path from project manager to executive level?

Getting executive-level jobs is not simple. An appropriate level of experience is essential to be hired for such a position. Here is the general career path to reach the executive level.

  1. Entry-level project management: You start from an entry-level position such as project coordinator, assistant project manager, associate project manager, or junior project manager. The main job of people in these positions is to assist the project manager in planning and overseeing the project. 
  2. Project manager: Next step, is to get a project manager position. A project manager is in charge of one or more complete projects depending on the intensity of the work.
  3. Senior project managers: Senior project manager position is acquired after working for a few years as a project manager. They normally handle projects of larger scale which includes working with larger teams for a longer duration. 
  4. Director of project management: A person in this position oversees the success of the overall project management division. They conduct reviews within the team and develop ways to streamline the work of project managers.
  5. VP of operations, COO: After several years of working in high-level positions of project management, one can get to high-level positions such as vice president of operations, or executive positions like chief operating officer. 

Qualifications for project management positions

Having the right qualifications helps to gain success in project management jobs. 

  1. Bachelor’s degree: Although there is no specific degree needed for this job profile, it is essential to have a bachelor’s degree in the field you prefer working in. 
  2. Master’s degree: A good master’s degree helps to secure jobs at top companies. Northwest Executive Education offers programs which can be done which can be completed while working to gain good positions globally. 
  3. Certification: A project management professional (PMP) certification is optional but a good certification definitely go a long way in your career.

The latest PMI-commissioned talent gap analysis by Anderson Economic Group (AEG) mentions that by 2027, close to 88 million people around the world are likely to be working in project management-oriented roles. Thus, it is a great time to get into project management, which can then lead to jobs at the executive level. 

FAQs 

  • Why is project management important for companies?
    It helps gain a bird’s eye view of the project that team members might otherwise miss. They also help in keeping track of the project and ensuring its timely completion. Hence, they play a pivotal role in overall project work.
  • Can a project manager become an executive?
    Yes, as we saw in the article above, in this job you develop skills that are important for someone in an executive position.
  • What is an executive project manager?
    Executive project managers are a level above project managers. They hold the power to make final decisions on things like budget, schedule, and the overall direction of the project. In contrast, project managers work closely with the team working on a particular project and handle the day-to-day operations.
  • How many project management roles are there in a company?
    The number of roles typically depends on the size of the company. Typically, a large organization has seven types of designations, according to Indeed.com. These designations are project manager, assistant project manager, team leader, senior project manager, project scheduler, resource manager, and project coordinator.
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