The I’s have it – Lessons from Project Management as a career path with Sheilina from APM

In today’s blog, guest blogger Sheilina Somani, a Chartered Project Professional and Fellow of APM, talks about a career path to project management. Read more and gain inspiration from real professionals in the field! 

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Photo courtesy of Pexels

Introduction to a career in project management

Project management is people management. Having gained the role of a project manager, paying attention to professional development is a core activity. Unlike other project activities, personal development is rarely on a plan, and unlikely to be executed.

Project management has gained significant visibility and recognition. Numerous certificated courses exist in colleges, universities and work-related learning. Online opportunities include valuable resources such as Association for Project Management (APM) HUB, LinkedIn Learning,–  and numerous courses, talks, podcasts, articles and interviews within them.


Is what you’re doing today going to get you where you want to be?

An early project management (PM) role, may be based upon an educational programme to gain certification. Now that you’re in the thrust of a real PM role, you need to consider maintaining your Continuing Professional Development (CPD). Some look to additional learning such as a course in Monte-Carlo simulation or Earned Value Management. Rarely do people in leadership and management roles pay sufficient detail to the tough skills; often erroneously referred to as ‘soft’ skills.

“Soft skills get little respect but will make or break your career”
  – Peggy Klaus


What can I do to be more effective?

Whilst you can teach processes, methodologies and basic project management practices, tough skills are typically more elusive. They require regular attention to learning, adapting, using and honing a range of skills, which, in no particular order, include:

  • Interpersonal skills; relatability, listening, communicating
  • Integrity/ethics; values, beliefs, attitude,
  • Inclusivity; willing to learn from others, encourage difference and collaboration
  • Ingenuity; creativity, responsiveness, problem-solving
  • Intelligence; emotional, empathic, linguistic
  • Intrapersonal skills; self-awareness, humility, gratitude

In 2020, as zoom became a verb, we needed to apply our interpersonal skills in new dimensions, including both inter and intrapersonal skills. Across all industries, project professionals are focusing on the need to effectively lead and manage people. The need for honed tough skills has become even more evident during the past 18 months of the global pandemic and the impact upon all industry sectors. Leadership became focused upon connectivity, facial expressions, and even the ability to engage and entertain to encourage participation and contribution.


On our KEATS pages, King’s Careers & Employability helps you identify what knowledge, attributes, skills and experiences you offer. Hoping to gain clarity and help you find direction? Explore our KEATS pages!


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Photo by rafael albornoz on Unsplash

Is self-care indulgent?

In order to lead through the ‘I’s proposed above, we have to look within and address our own sense of worth and value. In seeking understanding of our own perspectives, triggers, vulnerabilities and preferences, we learn to be more authentic. In authenticity, we can then listen more carefully to cues from others and encourage self-awareness, personal development and attention to physical and mental health.

Intrapersonal skills are often given the least focus. Self-care is a positive form of indulgence; reducing stress and boosting personal energy and morale. Activities include hydration, activity, relaxation and variety. As project managers we always have plenty of variety, but rarely do we commit to all dimensions of self-care. Often in being heroic project managers, not only do we neglect ourselves, but can be derisory of those who are more vigilant in their self-management.


So what now?

It’s no accident that the highest accolade in Project Management, Chartership, has four of its ten core competencies focused on hard skills, and a subsequent section on soft skills. Having gained a role in project management, it’s important to plan your own career and self-development as attentively as the project you’re delivering.

Too often, in an employed role, we leave our professional development to the programmes offered by employees and agencies. We rarely plan and execute our own personal/professional development on a regular basis. Plan time to learn, reflect and then share lessons learned. Make it part of team communications and a regular focus of team meetings and achievements. In managing your own development, you lead by example and can offer ideas/solutions to those around you.

“Belief in yourself is more important than endless worries of what others think of you. Value yourself and others will value you. Validation is best that comes from within.”  – Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’oDreams in a Time of War


If you’re interested in discovering more about project management by joining as an APM Student Member; membership is free of charge and provides access to the APM HUB and other digital resources.