by Luiz Andre Dias, PMP, PgMP
Luiz Andre Dias, PMP, PgMP, is the director of program management and PMO director at global telecom provider Telcordia Technologies, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
A mastery of methodology and the courage to take on big initiatives help this project professional shoot to the top.
Over the years, I've been recruited by big-name companies and received promotions after being with an organization for only a short while. My secret? There's not just one magic fix. Instead, I've relied on a mix of demonstrating my expertise in project management methodology, taking the initiative to tackle large projects and sharing my knowledge base with less-experienced colleagues.
Here are my tips to get on the fast track in project management:
OBTAIN CERTIFICATIONS AND YOU'LL GAIN CREDIBILITY.
Earning my Project Management Professional (PMP)® credential is truly what kick-started my rise. In 1998, I was working for IT giant IBM and was encouraged to take the PMP® certification exam. Along with providing a two-year project management training program, the company also let me devote an hour to study every day for a month before the exam. I attained certification in March 2000, making me one of the few PMP credential holders in Brazil and one of about 15 in all of Latin America at the time.
Being able to put the PMP certification after your name makes you stand out from the crowd. It's amazing what three little letters can do for your career. In my case, communications leader Ericsson actively recruited me as a customer project manager based on its need for the kind of expertise that only certified and experienced project managers could offer. It was certainly a big bump in my career, and going in armed with the PMP certification brought instant buy-in. My customer base had faith in me and respected me from the outset. And after only three months at the company, I was promoted to program manager of a key account.
If you're more advanced in your project management career, a good way to remain ahead of the curve is to pursue the Program Management Professional (PgMP)® credential. Earning mine in February 2009 paved the way for greater responsibilities.
HELP OTHERS BUILD THEIR PROJECT MANAGEMENT SKILLS.
IBM went above and beyond in helping me attain my PMP credential. As part of the deal, I was required to coach others to help them earn their PMP credential. I took the same philosophy at Ericsson, where I initiated a career-development program for the project managers in my division and helped five people obtain PMP certification.
Mentoring not only boosts the career of the person you're assisting—it can boost yours, too. Along with honing your own skill set, you demonstrate your leadership abilities to upper management.
TACKLE A LARGE INITIATIVE OR A NEW SECTOR—OR BOTH.
To get ahead, you need to show the executive suite you're motivated and that you want to help the organization streamline its project management processes while increasing ROI. One of the best ways to do that is by helping create a project management office (PMO).
While at Ericsson, I started a PMO for compiling metrics, key performance indicators (KPIs) and standards to ensure the company's projects were managed in the same way. Soon, customers saw the improvement, which in turn made me look good.
That put me in a good position when Oceaneering, an offshore oil and gas company, was looking to hire someone to implement a PMO. I had a background in IT and suddenly I was entering the world of energy. I found that dealing with people with different backgrounds and skill sets helped diversify my résumé.
The next year, Telcordia Technologies recruited me to run a huge provisioning program for Oi, one of the biggest players in Brazil's telecom industry. While implementing the program over the next two years, I internally promoted the benefits of establishing a central and global PMO as a way to obtain better results and improve the bottom line. In 2008, I was assigned to establish and manage the PMO worldwide, establishing methods, procedures and a review process for ongoing programs.
CULTIVATE THE RIGHT BLEND OF PEOPLE SKILLS AND TECHNICAL KNOWLEDGE.
As a leader, you will have to deal with all levels of an organization. When you need to talk to colleagues and address their issues, do so in the language most appropriate for them.
SET GOALS FOR YOUR PROJECTS—THEN SHOW OFF THE RESULTS.
I'm driven to move the Telcordia PMO a step further over the next year or two by improving forecasting and enabling better tracking of project KPIs, mainly cost, schedule and scope.
Once I've achieved my goals, I never overlook an opportunity to demonstrate my projects' ROI to senior management.
BE PASSIONATE ABOUT PROJECT MANAGEMENT.
Back in 1998, project management wasn't as well-known as it is today. At that time, my title was coordinator. When IBM invited me to attend that first course on the fundamentals of project management, I knew then and there that this was the career I wanted to pursue. As I've joined various companies, I've done everything I can to build upon what I have learned, to develop my skill set and to share my own experience. Another big satisfaction for me is to see project management growing—boosting my career prospects along with it. PM
PM NETWORK OCTOBER 2010 WWW.PMI.ORG
OCTOBER 2010 PM NETWORK