Job Title: Program Manager
Type of Company: I work for an electronic manufacturing services company. My group designs server and storage products.
Education: BS, Engineering, UMass-Amherst MBA, Bentley College (Waltham, MA)
Previous Experience: I worked as manufacturing engineer with three different high-tech companies before becoming a New Products Introduction engineer, moving newly-designed products from design shop to the production floor. I eventually joined the design group and managed various functional subgroups within it.
Job Tasks: I manage an engineering group whose job is to design products and services that meet the customer's needs, price target and schedule. I'm responsible for customer relations, program costs (including project profit and loss) and internal communication to all levels of management. I track critical path items, deliveries and milestones and work closely with key suppliers to address road blocks, weekly status and deliveries. I conduct weekly conference calls with the customer to review a project's status, assess the health of each of its key areas, and determine the immediate requirements, deliverables, and milestones. I review technical and program concerns and track out-of-scope activities and update product specifications.
I am responsible for customers' RFQ (request for quotation) responses, delegating these RFQs to appropriate sections, identifying owners, and establishing a schedule for delivery. I organize reviews, concepts, and write-ups, and establish schedules, labor costs, tooling and NRE costs and expense and materials costs.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The worst part of my work is having to depend on much on other internal and external partners to deliver. I rarely receive the information and requirements I need in a timely manner and my schedule is constantly under pressure as a consequence. Suppliers have to be monitored and tracked constantly. Dealing with customers can be painful, especially when they're expectations are unrealistic to begin with. It always takes longer to do any task than you planned.
Job Tips: Track the overall schedule constantly. Monitor immediate tasks to ensure they are on-track. Plan for contingency and work around. React quickly and escalate any issue if not solved quickly.
Additional Thoughts: Use your common sense. If it doesn't feel right, most likely it is the wrong thing to do. Do not overreact to a problem, let the problem settle itself before turning into a major crisis. Be honest and don't lie. It might help you in a short term, but it will come back to bite you in the long run. Once you lost the trust of someone you will never re-gain that trust.
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