Seven reasons why Project Management makes me “tick”

I have been involved in MEP (Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing) engineering contracting for over 20 years passing through the ranks from a design office apprentice to an on-site project manager assistant, to a design office electrical engineer, to a site quality manager, to an engineering manager and eventually a project manager. Looking back it was, and still is, a roller coaster exciting ride which fulfils and satisfies my professional ambitions- but what makes me tick is the nature of managing a project, and this article gives an insight into the reasons why this job thrills me so much.

#1 Dynamics of a Project

A project always has a defined start and end, and at the end of a project, you keep your friends and contacts made on the project, learn from your mistakes (ideally you should document these) and move on to the next project. This is one of the most exciting factors – the ability to move on, change skills, change team, change client, change technologies and move on. The dynamics, speed and never a dull moment aspect of a project gives me the energy to work and overcome new challenges and risks.

#2 Relationships

As stated above, on each project you meet new people and characters, bond with them, and make new friends and relationships. The Projects’ clients, end users, consultants, other contractors all form part of your ever growing network of professionals. And at the end, you are left with experiences (for me, it was always more positive than negative) and friends from all over the globe- friends who you enjoy meeting again on other projects or meeting socially and reminisce and remember the good and challenging parts of the project you worked on together.

#3 A happy client or end user

Forming the above relationships with your client and gaining their trust is paramount and results in repeat business and a growing relationship. Listening to your client, understanding their overall Project Mission- knowing what they want and delivering what they want and need and helping them resolve issues along the way will take this client relationship to a new level, and lead to a satisfying result; a scenario where the happy client has absolute trust in you and your team.

“Of all the things I’ve done, the most vital is coordinating those who work with me and aiming their efforts at a certain goal. “

Walt Disney

#4 The soft side

The people. Yes, there are the hard skills, the design, the cables, ductwork, pipework, planning, the program of works, conflict mitigation, etc. But above all, there is the soft skill set- the motivation of the whole project team, their morale (and keeping it high), the focus of the entire team on the project mission, communication skills, listening to issues and resolving them together for the good of the project. Once this togetherness is achieved within the whole project team, it is tough for any project risk to be impossible. If the whole team has the “Yes We Can” attitude within the project – you will get great satisfactions and achieve big.

#5 Working for the good of the project

Setting your target to work for the good of the project and execute the overall project mission is paramount- the rest is noise which is to be ignored and left on the side. The personality grudges, character conflicts, and negative attitudes have to fall and once these are settled, and everyone works to a common good of the project – the execution becomes smoother and easier.

#6 Breaking down a huge task into small measurable achievements is a skill which leads to overall success.

Identify specific goals and target – Set deadlines – When you meet the deadlines, celebrate. If you fail to meet your deadline, take responsibility for your failure. Don’t pass it off. Put it on yourself and your team

#7 Persist – never give up.

The project will have risks, ups, and downs- mitigate the risks, record them and learn from them. List the problems and issues and continue persisting to solve them with the project team. Stick to the overall objective and never give up, when a challenge comes in your way, change tack and move around the problem until it is solved.

The factors above are what make project work a positive drug to me which has kept me going for this length of time, and I am sure will continue giving me the strength and energy to persist and achieve great projects to the satisfaction of my clients.