How did you get into technical project management?
“I started my career at a telecommunications company where we coordinated upgrades to cell tower base station equipment. It wasn’t a technical company, but more construction based. After that, I got recruited to a software development company out of Seattle that specializes in telecommunications equipment tracking where I got promoted from a Coordinator, to a Project Manager, then to a Technical Project Manager. After being surrounded by software, I naturally became pretty technical.”
What were the first technologies that you worked with when you got into the technology industry?
“My first experience in the software industry introduced me to hosted applications on the cloud. At the time, I was also exposed to how on-site servers and mobile applications were tied together. This was when iOS applications started gaining in popularity.”
Which technologies are your favorite to work with? Which ones are your least?
“I really enjoy working on applications that are hosted in the cloud because that’s where the industry is going, with there being a lot less on-premise software. There is also a lot of cutting edge technology in the cloud.
The technologies I am not too fond of are mobile applications. I don’t like the approval process to get those to the public via the iOS App Store or Google Play Store. Whereas with any other application, it’s not as stringent.”
Can you walk us through a typical day on your current project?
“”A typical day on my current project looks like waking up and first logging on to see if there are any fires or blockers that need to be addressed, then I take the dog for a walk. Next, it’s time for our teams daily stand up. During the rest of the day, I then focus on my main tasks around managing multiple teams throughout multiple industries.”
Which traits do you think are the most important for success in technical project management? What about consulting?
“For project management, it’s imperative that you pay attention to detail because every aspect of the project matters. Being on your game with documentation, notes, meetings, and tasks is crucial to making sure missed items don’t create a snowball effect.
In the consulting industry, building a trustworthy relationship with customers and your team is the most important skill. Clients hire consulting companies to trust them to deliver the best solutions alongside transparent feedback and without that, the relationship won’t grow.”
What does an ideal project look like for you?
“Since a lot of projects are ongoing, it would have a solidified end date. The project would meet the agreed upon business requirements, as well as address additional needs of the client. In an ideal scenario, the client is wanting more implementations done with the same team or consulting company so the relationship can continue to flourish.”
What is the most challenging aspect of your job? What is the most rewarding?
“Challenging – coordinating with multiple teams across multiple industries. I work with corporate personnel, construction, legal, PR, and each industry has their own requirements and timelines. To coordinate those into one flowing effort is very challenging.
Rewarding – through all that coordination and stress, the stakeholders ultimately get what they want. They enjoy working with and reaching out to you. I like the fact that I can build a relationship with the client – it’s a good working friendship.”
What advice can you give to somebody looking to get started in a technical project management career? What about switching from a developer role to project manager?
“I would emphasize a well thought out project plan because it is easier to change and be agile with, rather than having no plan at all – which is usually pretty disastrous. Practice clear and consistent communication because you have to coordinate between internal teams and stakeholders. Another key part of that is speaking up – you can’t be shy or you won’t be successful at the job.
If you are switching from a developer role to a technical project manager, examine the overall picture of the project and business requirements. A lot of developers focus on one task at a time so switch that mentality to seeing the bigger picture.”
What are some successful strategies you are using to manage your team while we have been in this remote working environment?
“Especially while we are working in a virtual environment, the communication element is a key tool. We run daily stand ups where we have interaction, so we can gauge how everybody is doing.
Another successful strategy is having nonwork related touchpoints. A quick call can brighten the mood and keep morale high. Lastly, I like to submit kudos to team members with a small gift card so these team members feel recognized.”