Position: Project management officer, BNP Paribas, a bank and financial services company in Singapore
Hitting the Books: It took Mr. Vadlakonda two years to break into project management. He graduated from college with an IT degree and says it was hard, at first, to persuade his higher-ups to consider him for project management roles. “I always wanted a project management career, but my supervisor at the time didn’t encourage it. I was told, ‘You were a technical graduate, so you have to work in a technical environment for a period and move to a project management career eventually,’” he says.
“My passion helped me more than anything else,” says Mr. Vadlakonda, who did what students do well— he studied. “I got my Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® certification, I kept learning, and eventually got my first job in project management at UBS.” That position, a front office credit desk support analyst, was partly technical and partly project management, he says, but it got his foot in the door.
Helping Out: Studying project management helped Mr. Vadlakonda land his first job in the field—but it wasn’t enough on its own. He also volunteered. Determined to move into project management, he started volunteering with the technology division of his local PMI chapter—gaining valuable experience along the way. “When I started interviewing for project positions, my volunteer experience stood out.” An interviewer at Citi who eventually became his manager drilled him on his volunteer tasks. “They weren’t huge tasks, just coordinating people and projects, but it showed that I knew how to communicate and how project management works.”
"When I started interviewing for project positions, my volunteer experience stood out. They weren’t huge tasks, but it showed that I knew how to communicate and how project management works."
—Bhanu Vadlakonda, CAPM
After he landed the position in Citi’s project management office (PMO), Mr. Vadlakonda’s manager told him it was his volunteer experience, more than his professional background, that earned him the job. “He thought to himself, ‘Even if he’s a new guy and less experienced, he must be passionate about project management because he doesn’t even get paid and still does it.’”
Making the Most of Social Media: To keep his network growing, Mr. Vadlakonda connects on LinkedIn with each new person he meets at professional events. He also participates in LinkedIn project management groups, joins in discussion threads and reads project management blogs. “Whenever I get a connection suggestion from LinkedIn, I look at people’s profiles and send them an invite explaining my career, asking about theirs and offering ways we could potentially help each other,” he says.