Job Title: Project Manager
Type of Company: I work for a financial data and news provider.
Education: BA, Economics & Political Science, Northwestern University
Previous Experience: Out of college, I worked as an associate financial advisor. My next job was as a consultant setting up mutual funds for institutional money managers and my current job is quite similar.
Job Tasks: My primary responsibility is to manage projects to completion, on time and within budget. Projects include a client's purchase of financial data and software for use within their firm.
On any given day, I'll begin by reviewing a project plan which is a summary of all the tasks to be completed for our project. Many people are assigned to the tasks, all according to their specialized skill. Issues often arise which prevent these people from completing a task. Since I am responsible for delivering the project on time, I often help resolve issues to keep momentum.
Solving a problem usually involves working with people from other departments or even other firms. A typical problem occurs when data shown through our software does not match expectations. To resolve a problem I typically try to isolate its origin by asking questions and eliminating possibilities.
I also need to ensure the project is on budget. Since we are paid for our work, the effort to deliver can not exceed our revenue received. I do this by tracking effort and ensuring people are keeping to task. If the client wants something in addition to what we agreed to build, then I'll summarize their request as a "change" which adds either cost or time or both, to the project.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is getting to work with people who have different skill sets. Ultimately this job requires you to manage many people and solve multiple problems. You have exposure to finance, development, sales, legal, operations and marketing.
The worst part of this job is not having management support when problems are causing delay.
Job Tips: For a career in project management, you should consider courses in business and technology. Business courses will help you become comfortable with organization structure and operations. Another helpful course of action is becoming certified in Project Management. Soft skills include being able to sell and having a strong capacity for negotiation.
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