Becoming a project manager by accident

How did you get to be a project manager? Chances are it wasn’t a straight step from education into project management unless you are one of the rare breed to have completed a degree in project management; and it may even have been that you never dreamed that this would be your chosen career. Many project managers work their way up in companies and eventually get to run successful projects as a result, whereas others seem to simply be in the right place at the right time to secure a prestigious project of their own.

Whether you set out to become a project manager or simply fell into it by accident, you will, no doubt, know what an interesting and challenging career path it can be so you cannot neglect your own development and qualifications just because you already have what you want. Becoming an accidental project manager can mean you are unprepared for the stresses and strains of running projects, so you need to ensure you are developing yourself alongside your day to day duties so you can do your job well.

On the other hand, if you are still waiting for that perfect opportunity to drop into your lap, there are a few things you can do to help speed the process along. Here are the top things any accidental PM or wannabe PM should be doing to keep them at the top of their game:

1. Perfect your pitch
Being able to speak up and put yourself forward to manage big projects is critical if you are going to get noticed in the workplace. Work on an ‘elevator pitch’ to use with any executives or high ranking managers when you see them, to demonstrate you are capable and keen to run prestigious projects for them.

2. Look for windows of opportunity
Don’t overlook in-office networking when the opportunity presents itself. People go sick, ladies go on maternity leave and new projects are in the pipeline. Make time during lunch or in the staff room to probe colleagues about what’s happening in the business, and when you see that window of opportunity make sure you have…

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