Live Q&A – Project Management Careers

Welcome to our fourth Live Q&A Session here today on the Camel  Tuesday December 11th. We’re here live between 12 noon and 2pm today to answer any questions you might have about careers in project management.

To take part just leave a comment – and we’ll answer it for you!

Stuck for a question? Here are just some of the things previous people have asked about:

  • interview questions
  • getting noticed in a crowded job market
  • tailoring your CV
  • project management degrees
  • project management certifications
  • changing careers or getting into PM
  • PMO careers
  • Programme and project manager career paths

Arras People host the Project Management Careers Clinic Live Q&A 11th December at Noon GMT.


We’re here to answer any of your questions about your project management career – we’ll drop our expertise in a free session that carries on several of the similarities to our popular Project Management Careers Clinic!

To take part just leave a comment between 12 noon and 2pm today

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  1. HI
    I am a qualified accountant working in the NHs recently on contract, I recently became involved in a project regarding establishment of a new HR IT and finance project and it got me interested in taking my career into a different arena. I recently took a five day course and have passed my foundation level Prince 2 project management and am waiting for the results of the practioner exam. i am about to go on holiday over Christmas and wanted to put out feelers for my return. I really wanted to get more involved in projects, but realise I have only been involved in two projects and these have both been in the NHS, so may need to look at doing a contract role first to get more experience. Can you help? Michelle

    1. Hi Michelle

      Thanks for your question. I would say that contract roles are potentially the wrong path to take for you. With contract roles, organisations tend to look for people who are very experienced in what they do – they expect contractors to be able to hit the ground running with zero training.

      What’s happened to you is a classic case – you were hired to do one job – an accountant – and then drafted in to work on a particular project, probably due to your accountancy experience. What you should be thinking about is how to recreate this – how can you make it happen again. Sure you could look around for more NHS related project work with the accountancy skills needed. This would be a relatively easy door to get through as you’ve obviously got recent experience in both NHS and accountancy related projects. This will enable you to notch up more project experience in a relatively comfortable environment plus you’re likely to gain a contract because you’ll be deemed experienced enough to do the work

      The second option is to take a look around at other HR/finance projects in other organisations. In this case, you should be looking for permanent opportunities. It seems to me that you are at a classic crossroads where training and practical hands-on experience are really needed now to help you really embed your skills. Just make sure the roles you go for require someone with very strong accountancy skills, then you’ll be in with a chance.

  2. I am an Honours student and I am currently writing a paper on the future of Project Management. I would like to illustrate common reasons for failure in order to understand where improvement might be made to reduce the risk of failure.

    1. John,

      We at Arras People have been on this beat for years, citing first the 2010 PM Benchmark Report, with Project Failure receiving its own sub-section. As we followed up on that Report last month in PM Tipoffs, ” Here’s what we wrote in 2010: “(We) have consistently been troubled by the lack of attention given to the question of competence in the field of Programme and Project Management. It feels like the educationalists have stolen a march on us all by convincing the market that attaining ‘knowledge based certifications’ such as Prince2®, bestows upon an individual the capacity to deliver projects and programmes….But as one rose on the supposed hierarchy of the PPM ladder (namely, from support capacities to Programme Manager), the competency valuation chart below revealed that the value of a certification held much less sway against Leadership, Planning & Organising and Relationship Management.”

      But project managers pointed to specific reasons that year as key to project failure: Lack of executive suport (17%) was most popular, as well as incomplete requirements (13%) and expectations not set / managed (12%). What this points to: woeful performances in those three emboldened competencies we mentioned in the last paragraph – Leadership, Planning & Organising, and Relationship (more appropriately, Stakeholder) Management.

      John, here’s the link to learn more about the 2010 PM Benchmark Report from which we derived this information. And be sure to stay tuned here to the Camel for this Friday, 14th December, as we’ll have the PM Census 2013 up and running by way of a new blog post – you can help influence the realities of modern project & programme management once again, as the 2010 respondents allowed us to do for you here about project failure.

    1. More details would be needed about the level of experience you would need in your PM, the kind of projects they are used to delivering. The industry sector also plays a big part on the rate level for a PM as does the location they work in.

      You can take a look at the Project Management Benchmark Report to get a further insight on current rates and salaries for PMs

    2. Remi,

      Following up on Lindsay’s suggestions, please know that the 2013 PM Census will lead to an updated report this February, which means a current look at salary expectations for PPM practitioners in today’s marketplace. We’ll premiere the Census this Friday, so stay tuned and see what practising PPMs have to say about this.

    1. Ian,

      Career paths are one thing, but when push comes to shove with researching PPM, I wonder if you might consider a glimpse at the training certifications or even your higher educational aspirations for project management. If so, the Arras People Project Management Directory features a wealth of information about Accredited Training Organisations and certificates that are right for you. And unless you’re done with your schooling, perhaps our Higher Education Directory will shed light on some top degree programmes for PPM.

    1. Hi Henrique
      You don’t mention if you’re already started to do any study in construction project management? The link attached sheds light on several posts How to Manage a Camel has written to date regarding construction PM.

      Back to you: As a experienced foreman already I’m making the assumption that your man management skills may already be well developed. In order to make the next step into a project management role there are the technical aspects to the role that also need to be learnt.

      In an ideal world these would go hand in hand – training & practical experience, but often it feels like chicken & egg. How to get the experience if no-one will take you on because you currently don’t have the experience!

      Work experience or voluntary work within the construction environment, especially in the UK, is almost unheard of so would prove tricky for you. Do you have the opportunity to work alongside a current Project Manager in any way? I think without training you’re going to struggle, so if you’re serious about this move you really need to look into that.

      Here’s our review of a great online book for Soma Bhattacharya, who hammers home the importance of a finding a good project management mentor – BOOK REVIEW: Stepping Into Project Management

    2. Hi Henrique,

      I appreciate you taking the time to call us earlier today. I thought you might find this post regarding a 2011 ECITB report worthwhile. Take note of their employment number expectations this decade:

      “Frankly, the numbers are staggering: to meet an expected workforce of 91,592* by 2020, the industry will have to recruit 56,028 people. That’s over 60% of its expected workforce. In essence, over half of the sustainable, competent workforce by then will not have been in the industry just under 10 years earlier. And with those retirees heading out the door en masse, this currently top-heavy workforce age-wise leaves one to think that a shed load of knowledge and expertise is going through that door with them. That expertise can’t be tapped merely through organised process assets – it needs to be recycled for the industry’s health.

      “Is anything here acceptable? Are the goals even achievable? Or do they even merit comprehension in the first place? The truth is, odds are heavily stacked against the youth of the UK meeting these goals. Let’s estimate conservatively and suggest that 10 per cent (5,600) of the needed recruitment is project managers. Can these projects be managed those experienced in sectors other than construction engineering?”

      Regarding your queries about volunteerism, do know that there are many small tracks into displaying the soft skills of the modern project manager, including apprenticeship. But voluntary situations also allow you to show off the makings of a great project manager. Here’s what we’ve written on the Camel about the matter.

  3. Hi Dan and Lindsay,
    I’ve been working as a PM within academia for a few years and while I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience, I feel the need to switch to another industry. I’ve found it difficult selling my skills and am beginning to shy away from even venturing into PM roles in other industries. Any tips on how to crossover into other fields?



    1. Hi Sam

      I understand exactly what you mean, lots of other people share the same frustrations. Interestingly this has only been a real issue since 2008 when organisations started to feel cagey about hiring anyway and when they decided they really needed to hire they really narrowed the requirement – especially around the type of industry someone has worked within before and the types of projects they have managed.

      Sam you didn’t mention what kind of projects in academia but I’d like to think there are some industries that are more suited to your experience than others. The only way to start understanding what these might be is to start applying for some. This way you’ll start to get a better idea about what fields you could crossover into.

      Without knowing too much about the types of projects you’ve already gained experience in it’s hard for me to make suggestions.

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