We want you
Jeannie Edwards, Director of Human Resources EMEIA (Europe, Middle East, India and Africa) region, MWH, Brussels, Belgium
by Simon Kent / photos by Paul Francis
Project managers are a hot commodity these days. Even in a world economy where controlling project costs is a high priority, project management salaries show no signs of declining, according to the PMI® Project Management Salary Survey—Fourth Edition.
“Salaries are extremely important in that they speak to how highly an employer regards the role of project management,” says Diane Arthur, president of Arthur Associates Management Consultants, Northport, N.Y., USA. She also is author of Recruiting, Interviewing, Selecting and Orienting New Employees [AMACOM, 1986].
Attracting top talent isn't just about money, though. It's about the kind of opportunities the organization can offer the candidate. Providing interesting projects, training, a foreign posting or a flexible schedule might be enough to win over top candidates. “Ideally, project managers want both interesting work and high pay,” Ms. Arthur says. “Who doesn't? However they may yield somewhat with regard to pay in order to work on challenging projects.”
There are two types of labor you can draw from: those in the market for work and those already at work.
—John Thorpe, Arras People, Heywood, Lancashire, U.K.
They Come, They Go
Most organizations pay roughly the same salaries for the same level of project management talent so other perks can tip the balance, says Jeannie Edwards. “It's about creating the right atmosphere, creating the right environment and the right work-life balance,” she says.
Based in Brussels, Belgium, she is director of human resources for the EMEIA (Europe, Middle East, India and Africa) region at environmental engineering consultancy MWH.
“Because we are a global organization, we are very attractive to graduates,” she says. “MWH's global training of project management means project management skills are transferable, so we can put someone anywhere around the globe, and they'll know what to do.”
The company tries to foster a corporate philosophy that accepts employees will come and go from the organization, sometimes taking jobs at MWH for specific experience or the training before moving on. “They take happy memories of working for us and pass on those good things to other organizations, and they often come back to us with more experience,” Ms. Edwards says.
MWH also works to accommodate women who leave to start a family. “There are so many female engineers who have ended up working in a library or teaching after having a baby because employers are small-minded about what they can do,” she says. “So many times people have told me you can't be a project manager and work only three days a week, but the simple fact is you can.”
Grooming Future Superstars
Companies should be taking a more creative approach to recruitment rather than simply appealing to people through their bank balance. “There are two types of labor you can draw from: those in the market for work and those already at work,” says John Thorpe, founding director of Arras People, project management recruitment specialists in Heywood, Lancashire, U.K. “As the first area shrinks, you have to look at the people who already have jobs and work out how you can attract those people.”
“You might create the perfect profile for your recruitment requirements, but the only way to attract those kinds of people is by offering increased remuneration packages,” Mr. Thorpe says. “That in itself could create unrest if it means changing pay scales internally.”
His answer: “Take on people who are a little below the required profile, pay them at the appropriate rate and enable them to develop to the standard you need.” Of course, the practicality of this method hinges on how quickly the organization needs to find and benefit from the employee, Mr. Thorpe says.
It's about creating the right atmosphere, creating the right environment and the right work-life balance.
Another option is to try to groom talent already at the company. Organization leaders and experienced project managers are going to be looking for the best remuneration packages, so it could be easier—and cheaper sans those headhunter's fees—to develop these people in house.
“Our philosophy is to grow our leadership from within the business. Wherever possible, we do succession planning and career development so the future leadership of the business will come from within,” says Tiho Vukasinovic, operations director at Avanade. Based in London, U.K., the Accenture-Microsoft joint-venture provides technology integration for Microsoft Enterprise platforms.
Whether they're in India or Brazil, project management professionals continue to post salary increases. According to the PMI® Project Management Salary Survey—Fourth Edition, 90 percent of the 5,000 project management professionals responding from around the world reported a rise in their total compensation package in the previous 12 months. One-third reported an increase of at least five percent.
The following figures show median salary in U.S. dollars when purchasing power has been accounted for, allowing comparisons of real values for income and expenditures.
United Kingdom: $78,078
“The IT industry has not fully recovered from the slump experienced after the increased demand of year 2000 issues. The health sector has been experiencing great demand as the government is putting in massive amounts of resources, so that skill set has become very attractive,” says John Thorpe of Arras People.
“In Japan project managers are short in every industry field. It is reported that the IT and communication industries are currently over 20,000 project managers short,” says Masayuki Ishikura, freelance project manager, Tokyo, Japan.
United States: $90,000
The market is changing rapidly these days, but generally speaking, “project managers do better if they have industry-specific skills” says Diane Arthur, Arthur Associates.
Here's a rundown of the other countries surveyed:
“If potential employees come from another systems integrator, then they know we're going to pay about what they were getting before, but they also know we have bigger projects and bigger career options—opportunities which would not be open to them in contracting work or with another organization,” he says.
Avanade has only six years under its belt, so it's not clear whether the company will succeed in breeding the talent it needs, but the tools certainly seem to be in place. Every employee is given a personal development plan and a career manager who tries to help them work toward their aspirations.
Companies should always be on the lookout for fresh talent—especially in tight markets, such as Australia. “Many top project management professionals in Australia are locked into long-term well-paid contracts,” says Peter Hutchison, head of PIPC, a global project management consultancy in Sydney, Australia. “Top talent is constrained, and recruitment must be a never-ending process in our consulting business to ensure we have the right people available to meet the demand of the sales pipeline.”
A disconnect can sometimes occur between the part of the organization that requires the talent and the human resources employees who do the recruiting, says Matthew Moran, author of The IT Career Builder's Toolkit [Cisco Press, 2004]. He also is founder of IT consultancy Kreative Knowledge, Cave Creek, Ariz., USA.
Qualifications do not necessarily describe the ability of someone to deliver successful projects.
–Matthew Moran, Kreative Knowledge, Cave Creek, Ariz., USA
“Very often a job specification will be drawn up outlining the experience and qualifications required, and that is passed on to human resources to fulfill,” he says.
This method closes down the potential applicant pool, however. “You've created an artificial need for qualifications,” Mr. Moran says. “Qualifications do not necessarily describe the ability of someone to deliver successful projects.” A similar problem exists if the organization decides it needs a project manager with eight years of experience—is someone with five years really incapable of doing the job? “There's no easy way around it,” he says. “You have to be good at interviewing candidates and eking out the talent you need.”
Recruiting the staff that really makes a difference means understanding what those people need to do, where they sit in the organization and from where they can be sourced.
Then, all you have to do is keep them happy.
“Creating a place where people want to stay and work is really a matter of enlightened self-interest,” Ms. Edwards says. “What's good for them is going to be very good for you. Enable them to do the things they want to do and they'll stay with you almost as volunteers.” PM
Simon Kent is a U.K.-based freelance writer who specializes in human resources, IT and training.
PM NETWORK | AUGUST 2006 | WWW.PMI.ORG
AUGUST 2006 | PM NETWORK