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Happy International Women’s Day from ILX!

By ILX Team | 8 March 2018

International Women’s Day is a wonderful opportunity to recognise (and celebrate!) the work, lives struggles and achievements of women around the world. Project Management has been a typically male-dominated role since its infancy, and even today the ratio still sits at 70:30. However, this is changing. According to the APM Salary and Market Trends Survey last year, the number of women entering the profession is currently double the number of men.

What better way is there, we thought, to learn as much as possible about the role of women in project management than by asking them directly? We spoke with 4 fantastic female project managers from a range of project environments, who have very kindly shared with us their experiences and advice. A huge thank you to all of them for taking the time to contribute – we highly recommend following them on social media!

 

Hayley Hinsley is a Digital Project Manager and qualified PRINCE2 practitioner. Hayley also posts fantastic, engaging (and often very funny!) project management articles on her blog, which you can read here: https://medium.com/@hayleyhinsley . We also recommend watching her fantastic talk “Aim Wide, Not Just High” here: https://vimeo.com/album/4997210/video/256612044 . You can follow her on Twitter @hayleyhinsley

How did you get into project management?

"I was working in the Admin department of a company, and held a very in-depth level of business knowledge and commercial awareness when I was approached by the CTO and asked if I would be interested in a move to Development - which I of course was! I started off my career in Development as a Systems Analyst and Tester, then naturally grew my role and responsibilities to include creating project briefs, running planning sessions, organising the whole team’s workload and handling communication with the business. I absolutely loved every aspect of what I was doing and wanted to learn more so went on an intensive 1 week ILX Prince2 Foundation & Practitioner course and haven’t looked back since!"

What do you like most about working in project management?

"I really enjoy being able to lead and serve my team, building good relationships with everybody across the business and sharing information. Communication is absolutely key in my role and I enjoy both written and verbal forms, enabling me to manage expectations and create a shared vision and goal to work towards. I’ve also always taken great pleasure in planning and organising: even in my personal life I keep lists and spreadsheets of everything so that’s another big plus for project management for me!"

Any advice for women starting out in project management?

"Time management and attention management are two very important skills you not only need to hold yourself, but that you also need to be able to coach others on. Know how to prioritise, when to say no and what doing “the right thing” means to you."

 

Lisa Jane Young is a PMO & program manager and P3M enthusiast whose aim is to set up a network of like-minded project professionals both in Malta, and internationally. You can follow her on Twitter @LisaJaneYoung2 and connect with her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lisayoung0001

How did you get into project management?

"I started in project management as a software developer. The company staff was 95% male dominated so the environment was challenging. Project management didn't exist there, but was clearly needed. I was going to leave as I didn't have any software development mentor after my colleague left, but made the offer that I would stay if I could take on the role of project manager and implement the changes. I read a lot, worked with people and listened to as much advice as I could to make it work in the environment I was in."

Have you encountered any barriers during your career?

"Not a lot of companies are ready to work with project managers and follow best practice. Probably the biggest barrier has been management micro-managing projects and not working with the project manager to get a great final result. The micro-managing has resulted in financial loss and time wasted. You could argue that you'd get paid for that time anyway but personally it is still a waste of my time when I could be doing something of value instead. For that reason I make sure whoever I'm working with is hiring me for the right reasons, not to fill in an administrative role."

What do you like most about working in project management?

"My favourite part of project management is the planning. At that stage you take an intangible idea and make it into a plan of action with concrete deliverables and milestones. That's when you and the stakeholders can really start to see what will happen. It's like peeking into the future and makes the coming prospects look very exciting."

Any advice for women starting out in project management?

"I don't believe that project management should have any barriers for women and my advice here would apply to men just as much. Project management isn't a science. You can take a course, and it will teach you a set of important skills and tools to use, but that alone isn't enough. Project management is as much about soft skills as it is about technical. It isn't as easy to learn how to be likable, organized, and meticulous, or a good negotiator. All these skills however are key to successful project management. Always remember you have more in your toolkit than methodologies and tools. Work with your own individual character too."

 

Inneke Koops is a result-oriented project support professional, who specialises in Project Management Offices (PMO). She believes endurance and perseverance are essential for young women starting out in project management. You can follow her on Twitter @Inneke1967 and connect with her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/innekekoops/

How did you get into project management?

"I started in 2000 as a front office manager in a top 5 consultancy agency; in the years after that I evolved to project assistant/secretary, and in the years after that I started my first project. The HR manager at the time advised me to improve myself to work in project management, so I did. After that, the train started running with courses and training and all kinds of projects - small and more complex."

Have you encountered any barriers during your career?

"Yes, I have encountered barriers and hurdles during my career upwards to my work in project management, such as a lack of personal resources. I also encountered some bullying a couple of times. I learned that lack of money (or other sorts of resources) doesn’t have to stop you from working towards your personal and professional goals in project management. Unacceptable behaviour should also always be addressed with the people involved, and up-scaled to higher level management, which I did successfully!"

What do you like most about working in project management?

"What I like most in working in project management is the diversity of people and organisations, plus the complexity and working on your knowledge. You work hard on a result and meet goals by the end of each day."

Any advice for women starting out in project management?

"Always trust your gut feeling and the process. Get a coach and a role model in your project environment, and get yourself up to speed with courses and study. Stay integrous and authentic; there are always organisations who value your worth within the diversity of projects!"

 

Georgina Breeze is a digital project manager and marketer. She is passionate about learning as much as possible about project management theory and applying best practice, and is often found connecting with other project managers on Twitter via #PMChat! You can follow her on Twitter @georgina_breeze and connect with her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/georginabreeze/

How did you get into project management?

"While at university, I took on the project management role of many of our course projects (from building robots, to water saving devices), as I found the organisation and communication worked to my skills. There were other people in our group with stronger coding skillsets, and to me it always made sense to get people to play to their strengths. Once I left university I took on more data analytical roles within marketing departments across various sized businesses, and from there I moved into a more projects focused role. I’m learning all aspects of the planning and execution of digital projects and studying towards my APM Project Fundamentals qualification."

Have you encountered any barriers during your career?

"I have had a couple of issues to date, mostly a few key people looking down at me either because of my age or gender,

"However, I’ve always faced obstacles with humour. In one of my roles, my female co-workers and I used the phrase “Lady Brain”, as a couple of our colleagues genuinely seemed to believe that, as women, we couldn’t understand technical terms. We then upped the ridiculousness, such as “Sorry, I can’t use the stapler today, it is far too complex an item for my lady brain”. They then finally understood how ridiculous they were being!

"But overall I haven’t had too many barriers in my way and most people are quite supportive of where I’ve wanted to go with my career."

What do you like most about working in project management?

"It must be the diversity of the work involved, as no two days are the same. Stressful yes, but I think it’s worth it when at the end of a project your team can all come together and say, “We made that happen”. Also, the network of people that are out there on social media that I get to connect and share ideas with is amazing!"

Any advice for women starting out in project management?

"The thing I have learnt is to not be afraid to ask questions, no matter how silly they sound. I know this is clichéd, but it’s one of those things that, looking back, if I had asked more questions it would have made things much easier,

"Sit down with your colleagues and ask to learn a little more about what it is they do, and their working habits, so you can fully understand their role. If you’re not sure on something, don’t sit and worry whether you’ll get it wrong or not - go to someone and ask for clarification,

"Most of all, have fun and enjoy your work, and try not to take the stress home with you too much!"

 

We learned so much from talking with these fantastic women, and feel like their advice is not only invaluable for women in project management, but across the board. It was wonderful to hear from project managers with such a range of roles, backgrounds and expertise - we wish them the absolute best with their careers! If you’re a woman in project management, or want to learn more about the industry – you can connect with us (and the women who contributed to this post!) on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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