Advice for Women in Project Management

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Women have elevated their roles as project management leaders and have positively influenced the field over the last two decades. Today, women are leading projects worldwide as proven leaders, advocates for advancement of project management in their organizations and are represented in many global industries such as information technology, healthcare, aerospace, construction (bridges, buildings, highways) and as entrepreneurial consultants.

Women in any country, role and experience level who enter and stay in the project management field have the opportunity to earn a median annual salary of $81,000 per PMI’s report Earning Power: Project Management Salary Survey, Ninth Edition. 

In our global economy, organizations are looking for project management experts, leaders of high performing teams and great communicators that can manage people, processes and projects; women have the core skills to be top candidates for many of these great job opportunities.

I’ve had the great pleasure to collaborate and connect with many of these amazing women from around the globe. Let’s hear their insights into the challenges women face in the workplace, how to overcome these obstacles and become more empowered leaders.

Challenges

Joanna Tivig2Joanna Tivig, AVP Digital Channels

Investors Group

Building a career in project management wasn’t an easy ride for me, especially in a technology field and especially in a Latin American environment, where I spent most of my career. I sought executive buy-in at all times and ensured that everyone in the team worked collaboratively.

At the same time, I made a mission from my team’s work to deliver quality. And quality didn’t necessary mean that the outcome was good or great or awesome based on everyone else’s opinion. It meant that was fitting the organization, it satisfied the customer expectations and it was flexible enough to support any upcoming changes.

Skills come with experience and education. I see more and more women attending my Project Management and Leadership classes and they are most interested in the topic. Being educated in the field would give them more opportunities to practice and more chances for success. 

Opportunities

Amber MynhierAmber Mynhier, Project Manager

Heritage Parts

Choosing to pursue a career in project management wasn’t a decision I took lightly. I was supposed to be a stay-at-home mom and wife. However, while working to put my husband through school to earn his master’s degree, I learned much about myself as a professional.

I am passionate about connecting the dots, balancing resources, communicating with individuals of different backgrounds and taking a project from beginning to end. Not only am I passionate about it, but I seem to have a natural ability to do so. But natural ability and passion can only get you so far. 

I’m going to be a sponge soaking up all the wisdom, knowledge and experience that this community will share with me. I have a long way to go, but this year will be a year of growth for me, on a personal and professional level.

Advice

Elise StevensElise Stevens, Director

@FixMyProjectChaos Fix My Project Chaos

A few years ago, I noticed “well-connected people” seemed to find better opportunities, and realized that I needed to develop my professional network to take my career where I wanted.

Establishing your network can be daunting if you’re new to the profession, and even if you have a well-established career, developing and nurturing your network beyond a few immediate contacts can seem a low-return investment of your limited time.

With many options available, such as attending networking events, organizing catch-ups, volunteering for professional associations or being active in communities on LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+, networking provides great opportunities beyond simply growing your contact list.

I’ve used these opportunities to develop my story as a leader and a consultant, and speak with confidence about my skills and expertise. I’ve found these events a great way to monitor the “pulse” of the project management profession, and gain insight into what organizations want in their leaders and managers. I’ve come across opportunities that I would never have heard of without my improved network.

There’s the feeling of “giving back” to the profession as well, and helping others on their journey.

Being “well connected” can expand your skills, knowledge and career opportunities. Investing in your network is crucial in making those connections.

Deanne EarleDeanne Earle, Program, Project and Change Management

@unlikebefore Unlike Before

Always do the basics and do them well – get the project management 101 basics entrenched or you cannot possibly manage a project.

There is no unique, just different wrapping – regardless of the project, company or location in the world, the challenges and desired outcomes are fundamentally the same.

See what works for others and make it your own – watching what works, and doesn’t, for others and how you yourself respond to different styles will help you shape your own style of leadership and management over time.

And finally, the best piece of advice I was ever given: “Whether you’re a political player or not, others are so rise above the parapet occasionally and take a look around. Observe what’s going on so you’re aware of how it may/may not impact your project and you personally or professionally, now or in the future.”

We all get trapped in the weeds and things can pass us by. Be mature and observant; manage your situation without compromising your professional integrity or quality of work.

Alexia_4_pp_cropDr. Alexia Nalewaik FRICS, CCP, CCA, Principal

@ruffh2o QS Requin Corporation

Keep pursuing continuing education and certification, in whatever field interests you, in order to advance your own knowledge base and skill sets. Attend conferences and technical presentations; at the very least, it will improve your networking skills. Never stop learning!

Zakiyya CassimjeeZakiyya Cassimjee Digital Project Manager

@zakiyya_c PPS

Women in project management bring perspectives from experience that adds sensitivity to detail that enriches our work and empathy for end users. Strategically grow your skill set and know your tools. Stay on top of tools. Learn your apps better than anyone; keep trying out new apps.

Focus just as much on communication skills as you do on technical skills. Your time and energy is valuable. Creating a workforce diversity and inclusiveness in our industry will be hard work, but for the next generation of women in digital design-and for the endlessly diverse users who rely on us to create experiences that fit their lives-it will be worth it.

priya.patraPriya Patra, Sr. Manager, Projects, Capgemini

@priyapatra

Every Woman is a natural project manager, I would say a natural leader. My thoughts go back to that memorable speech of Stacy Allison, at the closing note of the North America Congress, 2015. The first American woman who climbed the Mt. Everest, narrated her experience of the Everest Expedition while correlating to techniques of project management, every person in that room that day was awed, inspired to be a better project manager that who he/she was.

BethSpriggsBeth Spriggs, VP, Technology

@spriggsbeth Leadership for Education Equality

I love the project management field. I love sharing with and learning from others in the field, and I enjoy that there’s always a new challenge. I try to maximize what unique values I can contribute as a woman, in particular leading with empathy.

Conclusion

Everyone has a story. I’m grateful to these women who shared their insights and advice with the community. A few years ago I was asked to share my story. We can all learn so much through knowledge sharing, promoting active engagement and appreciating diversity. It’s my hope that I can continue to inspire women to lead.

Regardless of who you are or the challenges you face in project management, all are served by having the right tools at hand to get their projects done on time and under budget. ProjectManager.com is an online collaborative suite of software solutions made for leading a project to success by giving you the ability to plan, monitor and report in real-time. See for yourself by taking our free 30-day trial offer.

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