Goodbye Project Management

I was asked last week why I was no longer a Project Manager. Interesting question, one of which I have given a lot of thought.

I quit being a Project Manager in 2009. I’d just been awarded a top award in Project Management, and had a wealth of opportunities ahead of me. It was a big decision, one that I did not take lightly. And when I finally bit the bullet and handed in that letter, I was met with some confusion, some understanding and a whole lot of gossip and innuendo as to why I was leaving, and how dare I, since I had just been given an award? I mean, I needed to stay and give even more – right?

The fact of the matter is that I was exhausted. Being a Project Manager is hard work, and comes with a lot of stress and sleepless nights – especially if you care about your job, your clients and your projects. Sure, I could have tried to NOT care, as I’ve seen quite a few Project Managers do – but then again, I don’t know how they slept at night with the mess that was often left behind¬†them.

That is one of the reasons I quit. The other – well. That’s a long story for another time. All I am going to say is that the sudden death of a colleague, who virtually dropped dead from what I perceive as the stress from one of the projects we were working on, had provided me with a wake up call. And so I walked. No career was worth that sacrifice.

So, I’m now working in the field of Project Governance, of which I kind of fell into as a sideward move away from being a Project Manager. I now deal with other Project Managers and their projects. I think I may be a sucker for punishment.


How to create a movement

I’m currently on a 3 1/2 day course for work. I won’t go into what it’s about, apart from that it involves Project Office methodologies and that I should end up accredited! And in consideration of that, I do have an exam in the morning and I really shouldn’t be on the internet (especially because I have a head cold and I should be resting!).

Anyway, half way through day 1 the Facilitator, in an effort to pep up her ailing students, played the following You Tube video for us. I had actually already seen it but I had forgotten how good it was. I also hadn’t thought about using it within the context of what I do as a career (which I only realised 2 months ago that what I am doing now can actually be a real career!).

I hope you enjoy it – it made me smile, and it made me think again about what my perception of leadership was, and about how important ‘followers’ actually are in creating any kind of change!

The stress of starting a new job

I recently started a new job. Time has blurred as the days have been long, the work has been ‘different’ and the people have been interesting. I compute that I have been there just on 5 weeks. I’ve read somewhere before that the first 6 months in a new job is one of the most stressful times in people’s lives. I can back up that by saying it’s certainly been a bumpy ride so far.

That’s why I thought I would – with all of my strength – try to come up with a list of what I am appreciative of in this new endeavour.

  • They have coffee machines on every floor that froth milk and automatically make your desired style of coffee (limited to a choice of about 4).

I’ve never had this luxury. Working in the city for 10 years I’d become one of the masses and developed the expensive habit of buying a coffee every day – it was my comfort thing. It used to make my day – I loved going to the coffee shop every day, and when getting to the front of the line, being asked how my day was and being handed my coffee before everyone else. They knew me and they knew just how I liked my coffee. They were also so god damn efficient! I miss that and the smiles.

Now I have a different type of efficiency – a machine that spits out my coffee – almost the way I like it. Plus I now don’t have to pay $4 per cup for it. I actually can’t pay $4 a day unless I stop by a drive-through coffee joint on the way to work (I no longer work in the city). The coffee machines are turning out to be GREAT for my purse strings but bad for my developing reliance on coffee.

  • I no longer work within walking distance of shops that sell clothes, make-up, shoes, dvd’s, cd’s, books, groceries…the list goes on.

There is a corner deli. That’s about it. No temptations. No ‘just ducking out to pick up some toilet paper and soap for home’ and coming back with a new suit. Nothing like that. I can drive about 7 minutes and end up at an old shopping mall – but the choice is just not there, nor is the quality. I may have become a snob? No. I just finally started investing in some decent quality clothes before I left my previous job – so going back to clothes that fall apart after a couple of washes is hard to do. Once again, it’s turning out to be GREAT for my purse strings!

  • I get to drive to and from work by myself.

For something like 5 years Denis and I drove to and from work together. Towards the end, Denis was stressing me out every day as he would get stressed out on the road, and he had developed a bit of a road rage problem – along with everyone else.

I now drive myself to and from work – which is weird! I can listen to whatever I like on the stereo, I can have the air con on as high or low as I want, and I get to work on time, arriving pretty stress free. The unforeseen bonus of this has been that Denis tells me he has been arriving at work less stressed. Hmmmm. One could read many things into that.

For years I avoided it like the plague, and when you work in project management, that is an awesome feat. Don’t get me wrong – I have used it. Its just that I find it annoying, cumbersome and ugly, and I see no point to it other than as another reporting tool that – in more cases than one – is used to display incorrect information in the name of adhering to ‘governance’ requirements.

So, I now need to deal with my nemesis. And really – it’s nowhere near as bad as I had thought.

  • I am also being forced to deal with numbers and finances.

I loathe numbers more than I loathe Microsoft Project and mushrooms. I truly struggle with them. I AM a words person. Its like there is something in my brain that forms a roadblocks every time it is confronted with a spreadsheet full of numbers and formulas.

I now have to deal with the hatred – or I could go as far as calling it a fear, for I have felt sick and stressed out all week due to the thought of having to deal with financial models involving millions of dollars.

I’m now trying to not become so anxious every time I open up a god damn spreadsheet. I actually felt relieved this morning when some concerns I had were validated. I was actually on the right track! So, on Monday morning I will tackle my fear in an attempt to overcome my issues with numbers once and for all.


Image via Wikipedia

  • I learnt this week that I have become stronger.

I had a confrontation with a colleague this week – yes, in week 5, of which I could have just sat there and took, being the new employee, passive and reluctant to get involved and speak up, wanting everyone to like me and to make a name for myself. But I opened my mouth and challenged what my colleague and I were being told to do.

I did succeed in making a name for myself. A few of my work colleagues have now started referring to me – ‘lovingly’ – as the troll who lives under the bridge. I sit just outside their office, so I take it I’m now their guardian who scares people away and prevents them from entering their office? Once upon a time I would have been upset at being called a troll. I now quite like it and joke that I’m going to start doing my hair in the style of those little troll dolls that used to be so popular!