Just a few thoughts on the possibilities that are open to project managers.
First of all you need to realize that, no matter what level in the corporate structure you are on, you ARE a Leader. As a project manager you do have a lot of responsibility and you do make a lot of decision and influence people – in other words you are a Leader. Hence from where you are you can influence a lot of things. You do not need to be at a certain level of authority to be a Leader, but can lead from behind, whichever position you are in. It is about a lifestyle of Leadership – not bossing people around, but living by example.
The career of a project manager can be as diverse as you make it and as interesting as you make it. You are the one who leads to your destiny. As a project manager it is important to also take charge of your career and not be a victim.
The 2 main options are of course:
- Do I want to be employed
- Do I want to freelance / be self employed
In my opinion it is good for all of us to work in formal employment for a while, while we learn the ropes and understand the full responsibilities of an independent project manager. Then the decision if you branch out into self employment, into taking project contracts or stay in formal employment really depends on individual preferences. You need to decide if you prefer the stability of a regular paycheck combined with the ease of not having to do all the administrative work, that comes with being self employed or having your own company. However others will say that in self employment the sky is the limit and you can earn as much as you are willing to put work into it. As you get older you might realize also that your options of being employed are thinning out, once you are in the mid 40s you will realize that some employers will be reluctant to employ someone as “old” as you are. You might find it easier to get contracts for project duration.
However there are many other options for project managers:
- Be a “normal” project manager who simply manages projects – which is a BIG responsibility
- Be a Head of Projects who manages a team of project managers or even leads a Project Management Office (PMO)
- Establish a Project Management Office (PMO) – which can have different functions – see my article to the topic
- Become a Senior Manager / C suite Member who influences strategy and internal processes
- Be a Compliance Officer for project compliance
- Be an independent Project Manager who works on contract – usually these tend to manage mega projects
- Be a Project Management Consultant, who manages projects for other companies
- Be a Project Management Process Consultant, who helps companies set up their project management methodology or department
- Be Project Management Trainer / Speaker / Author etc.
- Be a Project Management Coach or Mentor
- Be a Change Management Consultant
- Etc – I am sure there are more options
I think project management is an exciting career which never needs to be boring and everyone can find his niche. Some might find it right away, others might need to do a bit of trial and error until they find the place they enjoy most.
Project management is needed in all sectors, and I mean in all sectors. I met a project manager, when I did my PMP training, who managed bible translation projects!
Why don’t you share with all of us, what you have done in your project management career and where your niche is.