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Do You Have What it Takes to Be a Project Manager?


Ethan J.

The second part in our series exploring what it takes to be a great project manager.

We asked four of our favorite PMs to tell us the secrets behind their successes.

Ethan’s gone head to head with large projects at agencies and companies like Parliament, Fiserv, White Horse, Janrain, and CMD and lived to tell the tale.

Check out what he has to say about the challenges and the rewards that come with being a great PM.

What are your favorite PM tools and why?

Basecamp is super simple and very agency and client friendly. It’s a great tool for tracking the history on projects as well.

What do you think the top 3 traits of a successful PM are?

  1. Attention to detail
  2. Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  3. The ability to remain calm despite the constant stream of curve balls

How do you define success as a PM?

That at the end of the day you're proud of what you've produced. There will almost always be budget, schedule, and scope concerns but if the end result is solid, I consider that a success.

What piece of advice do you have for newbies moving into PM roles?

Find someone who knows what they're doing and follow their lead. Grab a senior PM and watch what they do. I find that to be a great way to learn.

What is your favorite project you've managed and why?

While I was at Parliament we did a project for Vizio around their sponsorship of the Rose Bowl Game. We created a fan engagement/social contest site that tabulated points for fans and included prizes, etc. We rolled this project out across several mediums (website, online advertising, radio, in stadium, etc.) and included a photo shoot all in a matter of weeks. It was a ton of work, all of which was very successful, and really well executed.  

What is the most challenging part of being a PM?

For me, resourcing. It's a challenge everywhere I've worked. Too much work and not enough bodies. Fluctuating schedules makes for some challenging days and weeks.   

What is the largest team you've coordinated projects across? How many projects have you juggled at once?

The largest team would have been 60 people for an online banking software implementation. Lots of technical resources on that one. My active project load would probably be 20. One or two substantial engagements and other smaller projects to fill in the gaps.

What is the biggest misconception about project management?

That we're a necessary evil. We're often seen as overhead and not really providing value. The fact is, good PMs aren't just paper pushers and taskmasters, we are leading and motivating the team.

What did you think you wanted to be when you grew up?

Race car driver. And still do...

Thanks to Ethan for his insight!

Are you looking to get into project management?

Try your luck by playing our Project Manager Challenge!

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