What’s Another Name for a Project Director?

There are so many different job titles in project management – some of them are obvious – project manager for one! A lot more of them can bring confusion though – we’ve already covered off the title Program Director so let’s look at the Project Director title.

The Project Director role can mean a couple of different things – and it also features more in certain industries.

You’ll see the Project Director role in a lot of construction organisations – the title often means they’re heading up a new build or development and they are responsible for an entire project delivery organisation. The builds tend to be large projects so there are lots of people to manage of different disciplines; often they’re managing a client relationship and of course the budgets and risks can be huge. It goes without saying that these Project Directors have worked in construction for a long time. The same goes for the engineering industry too – the Project Director role is seen a lot here too.

You might also see the Project Director role in a position that wants to really make it clear that it is a senior position – they’re looking for someone who is not just a Project Manager or even Senior Project Manager. Usually it’s because of the size and complexity of the project that needs managing. But sometimes confusion does arise because the Project Director role is really a Programme Director in disguise – it might appear as a large project but actually it is a programme of projects. It might not attract the title of Programme Director simply because the business doesn’t recognise programmes or doesn’t want to use the programme approach.

We’ve also seen the Project Director role to really mean Head of Project Management. In other words, they’re not managing a specific project – they’re managing the business’ entire project management department. Again the title is picked to denote seniority and experience.

Sometimes the title is used just because the business uses the title Director on a lot of its senior level roles – they’ve always done it that way so why change it? After all, how many job titles have you come across that don’t actually reflect what you think that person is doing? Sometimes a title is used as a promotion tool – we can’t give you a pay rise just yet but we can promote you from Project Manager to Project Director.

You can call any job in project management anything you want, what we’re really interested in is the industry, domain, context and the real roles and responsibilities that go with that title.

Have you come across any other uses of the title Project Director that doesn’t fit into one of the four scenarios above? Let me know in the comments below.

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  1. Once was called Programme Guardian as opposed to Projects and or Programme Director, which is my usual level within construction and engineering projects…I don’t get hung up on title

  2. I have been asked before if Programme Director meant I worked in television! As an industry we do not help ourselves by having numerous job titles for the same thing. Often I just say I am a project manager as it is easier to explain to people what I do.

  3. This drives me insane! I run a project management agency in creative industries. Project management is often seen as exclusive to STEM industry and, for example, translates to producer in theatre organisations. It’s so difficult to communicate the rile of project management in creative industries but it’s happening everywhere…

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