Exploring the many facets of Project Management

Why does project management continue to be such a popular choice for service leavers?

The answer to this lies in some of the diverse career opportunities available and in the skills required for the discipline.

Many elements of these were uncovered during the OA’s Project Management Workshop held on Wednesday 15th February at NCVO in Kings Cross, London.

Some excellent speakers lifted the lid on the qualifications necessary for success in the industry as well as sharing their knowledge and experience on the many facets of project management.

How useful are qualifications?

Ian Clarkson, Head of Project and Programme Management at QA Training, with a broad background in project management both for the MOD and in the automotive industry, revealed that APM will get chartership from 1st April this year. This is significant for the industry and will impact the importance of qualifications in the future.

• Prince 2 can be seen as the instruction manual and gives the theory
• APM is considered the tool box and gives competency

Therefore they are complementary and together seen as ‘best practice’.

• Agile, Scrum and Lean are seen as specialisations and may be used specifically by different organisations
• MSP is used at executive level for programme management

Ian explained, however, that for some roles and organisations qualifications are not essential, but can often differentiate your application.

What salary levels can you expect?

Ian advised that project managers across all industries and locations are earning approximately £47k. He said that programme managers were likely to be able to achieve salaries of approximately £57k.

What kind of industry can you expect to work within?

The broad range of experience among the speakers spoke volumes on this. Project Management can be used within almost any industry, from technical applications to more generic transformational change.

Brendan Sleight, Chief Engineer in the Asset Management Directorate at TfL spoke about the more tangible projects which are ongoing within TfL and across the rail and transport industry, such as Crossrail, Network Rail and so on. Improving Britain’s infrastructure is an ongoing and exciting challenge and to which many ex military can add considerable value.

Simon Thomas, a former Royal Artillery officer, is now a Vice President in Change Delivery in the Securities Division of Goldman Sachs. He emphasised that project management and change management go hand in hand and indeed in some organisations is referred to as ‘business architecture and change’.
The financial services sector is constantly changing and developing to respond to the economic and political climate and to the ever evolving regulatory framework. The need to be competitive to retain an edge in the market provides challenge and interesting opportunities in project and change management, none of which require an in-depth knowledge of financial instruments or products, rather an ability to deliver results.

What skills are required and why is it a good fit for ex-military?

Jon Harte, a former REME officer, is currently programme planning lead for a European investment bank at Capco, a professional services firm which operates exclusively within financial services.

Jon explained the similarities between ‘consultancy’ and ‘project management’, which share many of the same skills:
• Logical Thinking
• Leadership
• Working under pressure
• Communication skills and relationship building
• Adaptability
• Teamwork
• Analytical capability
• (Expert knowledge and technical skills) – often less important at the start of your career, but more so as you progress

Clearly, these are all skills which service leavers can offer and this therefore goes some way to explaining why former service personnel are so successful in project management roles and why the industry continues to attract and challenge quality talent.

Lisa Jones, one of the OA’s career consultants, has both a military background having served in the Army for 8 years, and a wealth of experience in Financial Services having worked for over 8 years at 2 top tier investment banks in the City.  She has a wide ranging knowledge of employment issues  as well as advising many officers on transitioning into project management roles.

The OA is running another Project Management event with our upcoming workshop at Deloitte, Leeds on Tuesday 7th March. Book your place for the Project Management Workshop.

Would you like to hear more? Click here to access our webinar on the commercial skills required to carve a career in project management.