Everyone wants a bright future. How can we improve our lot in life? How can we discover positions that leverage our experience and talents to fulfill our dreams?
Tom has been working at AAX for four years as an information technology project administrator, mostly managing small projects no one else wants to do. Lately, Tom has felt unchallenged with the menial tasks he’s been given; he knows he has skills and knowledge that’s not being tapped. Tom has been thinking about taking the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam and applying for a project manager position.
You may feel a bit overwhelmed by the possibilities. You may feel a million miles behind everyone else.
Simple Secrets to Advancing Your Career
If you want to advance your career, start by defining your career goals. Then determine what may help and what may hinder the achievement of those goals (sounds like risk management to me). Let’s look a little deeper.
- Define your career goals. What do you want to do? Are you in the accounting department but you really want to be in the Project Management Office (PMO)? Perhaps you’ve been managing projects in your department, but you hunger for enterprise level projects. Maybe you want to be a project business analyst or project risk manager? If you are unclear about what you want to do, consider the following steps.
- Complete a personal assessment. Do a skills assessment – what are your strengths and weaknesses? Check out the book Strengths Finder. Talk with project managers about their jobs. Invest in a book or two like What Color is Your Parachute that can help you clarify your career aspirations.
- Identify your risks. Next, identify your risks (threats and opportunities). What may hinder you from achieving your goals? What opportunities should you seize?
- Evaluate your risks. Determine which threats and opportunities are greatest.
- Respond to your risks. Now, determine your responses to your top risks. How can you avoid or reduce the most significant threats? How can you take advantage of the great opportunities knocking at your door? How can you more effectively network with others? Hint – it’s not by emailing people and applying through hundreds of websites; check out The Power of Who.
- Monitor your risks. Things change over time. Periodically review your goals and risks. Tweak your career plans when necessary. Don’t give up – be persistent!
Project Management Development Opportunities
Does your company have an approved training program that includes project management courses? If so, check it out. Some companies will pay for your courses, your exams, and some even pay an incentive bonus for passing many of the courses; you may receive a bonus for being certified as the Project Management Professional (PMP) or for other certifications.
How to Develop Industry Knowledge
I occasionally see LinkedIn debates about whether someone can manage projects in an industry they’ve never worked. Technically, I would say yes; however, I would quickly add that people with industry skills and knowledge have a great advantage.
I have worked in the insurance industry for more than 15 years. Several years ago, my company hired a vendor to help us implement their commercial-off-the-shelf software solution. The vendor assigned a project manager who had lots of project management experience, but he had very little insurance knowledge. To make a long story short – it was a disaster.
Whenever I manage project managers, I require each project manager to take one project management course and one industry-specific course each year. These steps help individuals to mature as project managers and gain industry knowledge. Most industries have programs of study.
If you are in the insurance industry, take a look at some of the programs from the Institutes, a leader in delivering proven knowledge solutions for risk management and the property casualty industry:
- Intro Courses in Insurance, Underwriting, Claims, Risk Management
- Associate in General Insurance (AINS)
- Supervisory Management
- Associate in Management (AIM)
- Associate in Claims (AIC)
- Associate in Risk Management (ARM)
- Enterprise Risk Management
- Associate in Information Technology (AIT)
- Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU)
Let’s Make It Happen
Now, let’s make this happen. Download this Career Planning Tool (no email required). If you like, copy the questions to your preferred digital tool such as Evernote. Periodically, review your progress.
Question: What industry are you in? What are the industry-specific programs that you recommend?