Strong Foundation

How Project Management Helped a CEO Elevate Her Startup and Career


By Amber Redmann, PMP

Since I started a technology solutions company two years ago, our client base has tripled, our staff has nearly quadrupled and our revenue has grown to almost US$1.4 million.

I feel strongly that our success is based on the skills I learned while earning my project management master's degree and the Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification. In particular, four characteristics typically associated with project managers have been vital in my CEO role:


1. Project managers are organized. At our small startup, I have at least eight jobs, only one of which is running the company. I have to pay attention to every detail as well as the big picture. Without solid organizational skills, I would quickly become overwhelmed.

2. Project managers have good people skills. They must get along with a variety of people and constantly balance everyone's interests. A CEO has a remarkably similar task when it comes to stakeholders—investors, staff and clients all have vested interests, and all are a priority.

3. Project managers are influencers. They have learned to lead with accountability, not authority. My job is to convince many people to row in the same direction. Though CEOs obviously have authority, they still must rely heavily on an ability to change people's minds. Like project managers, CEOs need to earn others' respect, even if not everyone agrees with their decisions.

4. Project managers are decision makers. Having a project management background allows me to quickly gather and analyze data, ask the right questions, make decisions and quickly put practices in place. Though startups need the flexibility to pivot quickly, their decisions still need to be based on good data and processes.

Many of my organization's clients are looking to select and implement new technology systems. We take a project management-based approach to identifying requirements, completing requests for proposals and ultimately selecting vendors that best fit our clients' needs. Our success shows that clients appreciate the methodology and processes we bring to all this work.

Our success shows that clients appreciate the methodology and processes we bring to all this work.

Not a day goes by when I don't feel grateful for my project management background. It gives me the skill set I need to more efficiently manage my company across the whole gamut of its activities: staffing, recruiting, investor management, client management and sales. Project management is usually associated with an organization's trenches—but it's been just as important to me as a CEO. PM

img Amber Redmann, PMP, is CEO of Parasol Alliance, Chicago, Illinois, USA.



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