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A Career in IT: How to Become PM and Where to Go Next?

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Who is PM?

Project Manager is a specialist whose main task is to manage the project as a whole: designing and prioritizing, scheduling tasks, monitoring, communication, and quickly solving problems.

PM is a non-technical position, but most PM’s in IT are former developers or testers. So, for the search query “Project Manager” (in the fields of “information technology”, “software development” and “Internet technology”), the LinkedIn search database finds 2905 people, of which 1467 (51%) are former technical specialists: 1182 in the past worked as a “software engineer” or “developer” and 285 “tester” or “QA”.

Tasks and Responsibilities

PM’s primary responsibility and responsibility is to bring the customer’s idea to fruition on time using existing resources. As part of this task, PM’s need to build a development plan, organize a team, set up the project work process, provide feedback between teams and the customer, eliminate interference for teams, control the quality and delivery of the product on time.

PM’s objectives can be classified as tactical and strategic. Tactical this is the solution to the everyday problems of the project, the removal of obstacles from the team. The strategic ones are to coordinate the overall goal of the project, the path to it, as well as the speed of movement.

How to become PM and where to go next?

PM’s main qualities are good knowledge of the business domain, leadership skills, experience working with people, presentation and persuasion skills, ability to negotiate and take into account the interests of different groups of people, the ability to politely and clearly express thoughts in many languages, as well as the ability to collect common a picture of disparate facts. Also required are experience in planning, assessing and eliminating risks, knowledge of flexible and classic development processes and the ability to perform administrative tasks and create a team. Experience in development or testing will be a plus.

“It is important to be able to be a leader, not a slave, and also to find a balance between dictatorship and lack of control.

“Quality first: do not whine! In any situation, even if everything falls and customers call you hysterically, you should be calm. Yes, it fell, but a problem we are working on it. The second point: you need to want and be able to think ahead. They repaired what fell we are heroes But why did it fall at all? And how to make sure that it does not fall?

“The hygienic minimum of our industry is an acceptable level of English. And of course, you need to quickly learn new things.”

The career path to a PM position with a specialist who previously worked in IT looks something like this: Developer (tester) -> Lead developer (tester) -> PM.

“Initially, I chose the profession of a programmer. For several years of work, I realized that I like it better and better manage to communicate with people, and not with debuggers, so I decided to change my position in IT.

“I changed my career track because I wanted to work more with people. It turned out that PM is not just a techie managing a team, but much more. In fact, most of the skills that I developed as a programmer turned out to be unnecessary, and sometimes harmful. The technical background certainly helps to talk with techies. But overall it is secondary. Soft skills were needed much more.

“If you want to become PM’s, your skills should fit the management style in the company, you should have normal or good relations with the leader. Ideally, your candidacy should come to your manager’s head first if he thinks about his replacement.

A logical continuation of the career of a project manager is the growth “horizontally”, that is, the expansion of authority, the degree of responsibility and global tasks, and in the future, taking up the position of Program Manager. If you are interested in developing in other non-technical areas of management, you can go to the sales department or to the customer service department. Generally speaking, the prospects are not limited, including top management: CTO, CEO, CIO, COO.

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