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Wisdom from a seasoned project manager

With over 20 years’ experience in project management and senior leadership roles, Steve Butler, European Portfolio Management Office Director at the Project Management Institute tells Networkers’ Luke Staniford about his career and shares his advice for technology professionals looking to get into project management.

LS: Hi Steve. Firstly, can you tell me what made you choose project management as a career choice?

SB: It wasn’t by choice. I was an engineer and found that the natural way to deliver solutions was using what became known as project management. To me it is common sense!

LS: Fair enough – the problem solving nature of engineering roles certainly fits into the skills required from a project manager. So for you, project management was a natural profession to get into. But what do you think attracts other technology professionals to the field of project management?

SB: I suspect in the early days, most people fell into it by accident. Now, there are several things that would appeal; anyone who likes change, it attracts those who are results driven, those who like responsibility and those who like a lot of contact with people at all levels. Project management is now more of a delivery manager role, and as such technology professionals who are in project management will find themselves in increasingly high demand.

LS: Yes, IT project managers are very much in demand and we certainly expect it to stay that way for some time. With those points in mind, what advice would you give to tech professionals from other disciplines looking to get into the field of project management?

My advice would be not to get too hung up on certifications – project management is inherently simple and is common sense when you understand that managing a project is simply an exercise of mitigating the risk of delivering change. You need to keep those you are delivering to and those involved in delivering informed, you need to manage your budget, you need to make sure the quality of what you are delivering is as agreed and to deliver in the timescales that were agreed, and you need to manage your risks and issues and shout as soon as something unexpected happens. At its heart, project management is simple common sense.

LS: Thanks Steve.

SB: No problem.

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