The PM Podcast


Project Management for Beginners and Experts

Episode 289: Optimize Your Project Management Career - Part 3 - Late Career & Consulting (Free)

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Dev Ramcharan, PMP

This is the third and final of three interviews in which Dev Ramcharan (http://ca.linkedin.com/pub/dev-ramcharan-pmp/1/677/750) from AROUCA Career Coaching (http://www.arouca-coach.com/) helps you to optimize and boost your career. In this interview we focus on the late career phase and also touch upon consulting.

Allow me to repeat my recommendation on listening to this series of interviews one final time: You will get the most out of this series of interviews if you listen to them in sequence, no matter if you are currently in your early career, mid career or late career. This is because each of the three interviews contains many nuggets of wisdom applicable to any career stage. And of course... Dev’s Career Optimization Package can be found on The PM Podcast website. Just go to www.pm-podcast.com/career and download the free version first.

In this final interview you learn that the late career is really the peak of your experience, knowledge and wisdom. As well as the money you earn. But at the same time, this is also the moment to think back to the time when you started out in your career, and now you need to help out and mentor an eager young project manager at the start of his or her career.

The one unexpected topic that you will also hear about is adversity in the sense of getting laid off or overlooked for a promotion during any of the stages in your career. Dev shows you that you can use adversity as your ally to move your career forward. And finally Dev closes with his suggestions for a structured approach to personal growth.

Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only. 

Podcast Introduction

Cornelius Fichtner: Hello and welcome to Episode # 289. This is the Project Management Podcast™ at www.pm-podcast.com and I'm Cornelius Fichtner.

This is the third and final of 3 interviews in which Dev Ramcharan from Arouca Career Coaching helps you optimize and boost your career.

In this interview, we focus on the late career phase and also touch a bit upon consulting. You learn that the late career is really the peak of your experience, knowledge and wisdom, as well as the money you earn but at the same time, this is also the moment to think back to the time when you started out in your career and now you need to help out and mentor an eager young project manager at the start of his or her career.

The one expected topic that you will also hear about is adversity in the sense of getting laid off or maybe overlooked for a promotion during any of the stages in your career. Dev shows you that you can use adversity as your ally to move your career forward.

And then Dev closes with his suggestions for a structured approach to personal growth. And after all of these, let me repeat my recommendation for you one more time. You will get the most out of the series of interviews if you listen to them in sequence. No matter if you are currently in your early career, mid career or late career and Dev's Career Optimization Package can be found on the PM Podcast website. Just go to www.pm-podcast.com/career and download the free version first.

Are you ready? Enjoy the interview.

Podcast Interview

Female voice: The Project Management Podcast’s feature Interview: Today with Dev Ramcharan, Founder and Lead Coach of Arouca Career Coaching.

Cornelius Fichtner:Hello, Dev and welcome back to The Project Management Podcast™.

Dev Ramcharan: It's wonderful to be back again. Thank you so much for having me, Cornelius.

Cornelius Fichtner: So this is our third interview about career optimization. We have seen our fictitious project manager move through their early career into the early mid-career and then into the late mid-career and obviously, we are now moving in to the late career and those of you who say: "Ah, I'm not in the late career. I don’t have to listen to this yet. I could just skip this." Please don’t because a big part of what Dev is going to be talking about today is adversity and the use of adversity. What do you do if you get laid off and we're also going to look at a simple structured approach for personal growth and these 2 items, they are going to be so important to you no matter in what stage of your career you are. But right now, we are going to focus on the late career stages first.

So in our last interview, we ended with the late mid-career. There, our project manager moved into the program manager, senior program manager, or senior PMO manager role. What's the next step here, Dev. Where are we going in the late career stages?

Dev Ramcharan: Chances are in the late stage of your career, you are one of 2 or 3 things. Remember this is assuming that the individual, she wants to progress to more senior roles in the organization. At this point in time, she may be the director of a project management office or project management organization or subdivision, or she might have moved to the VP of project services or the VP of corporate services that might include project services together with IT and others depending on how it's all bundled together.

There are some things that are important to remember at this stage. It's your peak period for your experience, knowledge, wisdom and your wage. This is a time in your career where you need to start thinking seriously about how to give back what you can to maximize your opportunities for mentoring younger colleagues or some of your colleagues who might be your age, but they need some special support; to do volunteer work, public service work, community support and not-for-profit corporate board work. I'm on to non-profit boards of directors right now and it's something that I really find, it's very, very satisfying and very fulfilling.

You might think to yourself though, give back. Nobody gave much to me as I was going through my career. What am I giving back to? Well if it's not giving back, then just give. There is an inherent value in building us as human beings as we share our knowledge, as we give something to the people that are around us and it will make you feel good. If anything, it'll at least make you feel good.

In your late career, be committed to building sustainable and flexible organizational models. But make sure also that you're building balanced teams. Know the impact of the example that you are setting. I know at earlier stages, our example is always affecting other people but at this stage, it has to be the right example and a key attribute of that is they want you to say: "I'm sorry, please forgive me. I screwed it up. I shouldn’t have talked to you that way or I shouldn’t have done this or that." But we don’t know how to do that. Then there's a key series of lessons in life. We've not really gotten to the maturity stage to be able to have learned that are fundamental to our growth as human beings.

Think past the frustrations of the moment to the possibilities of the future and aim your organization at that future at sustainability. Demonstrate mastery and diplomacy in the organization of the stage. You should now be known for warfare and fighting. You're not a general. I don’t care what Sun Tzu says in The Art of War. You should be avoiding war. That is one of his principles. What you need to do is demonstrate the art of building peace, mastery in diplomacy.

I remember what people remember when you're gone. It wasn’t how smart you were. It wasn’t how eloquent you were. What they remember is how you treated them.

Understand the value and the dangers of communications. Make sure you are communicating appropriately with your team but understand too, there are some things you cannot tell them and be okay with that. Be okay with that.

Avoid terror, warfare, petty empire-building and the stupidity that comes with egocentrism. And I say that because it is such a danger in North American life where I am and where many of you that our listeners are.

Becoming egocentric and full of ourselves and full of our sense of our self-worth is something that doesn’t only make a fool of us. It damages our careers and the people around us.

Empower your people and be adept at getting obstacles out of their way. Your career at this stage is very much about their career not just your own.

You might at this stage choose to not be someone employed by an organization but you go into consulting. That's a pretty rich landscape of opportunity. The risks and the potential are high. You could make all tons of money but there are also very high risks associated with it unless you are able to manage those risks and build mitigation or acceptance or whatever kinds of risk management approaches are appropriate to those risks.

Find a mentor who has deep experience as a consultant. Be totally adept at client relationship management in everything that you do as a consultant because it's about the referral. It's about the next contract or the contract extension. If you're somebody who works well with people in an organization who works with empathy and respect and efficiency who supports and understands the constraints of the organization and it works within them, you will be deeply valued as a consultant.

Ensure that you've got the right sponsor. If you don’t, you're not going to be successful. If your sponsor is a vice president who is on the way out, so are you. Make sure that you have a good relationship with the sponsor and that that is the right sponsor for the kind of work that you're taking on.

Understand the business problem that your project is solving. What are the key drivers? What are the things which initiate it, this particular project conceptually? What's it trying to do? Understand who the organizational decision makers are and the key stakeholders. Also the key resources that you're dependent on.

You know that guy over there who sits in the corner and doesn’t talk to anybody and who is the one single person who has been there for 25 years and knows every nook and cranny of the legacy system? You better buy him coffee and doughnuts as often as you can because that is a key stakeholder. You may need to rely on him to manage a migration or a system change or to be able to do a system upgrade. Ignore the urge even though you will be sorely tempted to trample over the organization to achieve your goals.

Remember, one of the people you step on can become a senior person at another organization and they will remember who you are and what you did when you go there looking for work. You can become a one-project success story if you ignore this advice.

Back in the Y2K days, I remember the Y2K people. Some of you may not even have been born then. But the Y2K projects were about 2000 and apparently because of the fact that certain systems were not built to show measurement or to track anything beyond 2000, elevators were going to fall from the tops of buildings down to the bottom. Planes are going to fall out of the sky and so on. There were Y2K consultants I recall in that early stage of my career who didn’t care anything about the staff. They were all about the money and achieving their goals. We never forgot them. Many of them never found work again after that.

Build the kind of relationship your client and your client organization that you can leverage for referrals in the future and leave a trail of successful projects and positive collaborations behind you not a trail of bodies.

So I'll turn it back over to you now.

Cornelius Fichtner: So we've seen our project manager start out in the early stages of the career then move on to the mid-career and now just ended it in the late career. And we've taken your template along with us and hopefully filled it in very regularly and updated it. How important is the career optimization template that you've provided to our listeners to me in my late career as a consultant?

Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only. Please subscribe to our Premium Podcast to receive a PDF transcript.

Tags: PM Career Development

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