Vijay is a member of the ProjectManagers.Org community. He shares his story on why he became a R&D Engineering Project Manager in the following interview:
Why did you become a Project Manager?
Project management is a multi discipline function. One needs to be good in presenting, writing, managing people at various levels, foreseeing future events, acquiring domain/industrial knowledge, inter-networking and the list goes on. When I was an engineer, I looked at project management being something superior that I’d wanted to accomplish. Thus I moved my career from engineering to project management.
What work were you doing previously?
I was a process engineer with a high volume manufacturing (semiconductor) MNC.
What are you doing now?
Presently I’m a R&D Engineering Project Manager in a large and market leading MNC.
When was the moment you decided to make the change?
When I was a senior engineer, I was leading group of engineers on various technical and process improvement projects without much of project management knowledge. When I had some project management foundation, I started to look back and said to myself I could have done the project better utilizing project management tools and techniques.
Are you happy with the change?
What do you miss and what don’t you miss?
I have also been in project management consulting industry where there is not much of hierarchical or matrix structure. I miss the lean reporting structure.
How did you go about making this career move?
Not easy for an engineer’s transition into PM role. Just need to tweak our mindset to adapt.
What didn’t go well? What ‘wrong turns’ did you take?
After my transition from engineering role, I have worked as a PM in electronics industry, as a PM consultant in O & G industry and also as a project management foundation freelance trainer. My entry into O&G industry was all about the timing. The timing wasn’t good due to global crude oil price crisis. So I decided to move out from O&G industry.
How did you handle your finances to make your change possible?
similar to project budget management, I’ve my personal financial budgeting and cash flow management too.
What was the most difficult thing about changing?
Building up acquaintances, networks, social capital in the new place and learning up the new processes in the new industry.
What were other difficulties and how did you overcome them?
Well, managing change isn’t something new to a PM.
What help did you get?
My family’s morale support is more than enough.
What have you learnt in the process?
Adapt to change, be agile, always expect the unexpected and always be prepared.
What do you wish you’d done differently?
None specific as my transitions went well.
What would you advise others to do in the same situation?
Have a good preparation when doing career transition especially from an engineering role to a management role, be it project management or people management. I’ve seen young engineers whom came into PM world and quit within an year. Prepare well and do some homework before the switch.