The role of a project manager
Project management is the discipline of planning, organising, securing, and managing resources to achieve specific goals. In the engineering and infrastructure sectors, project managers are instrumental to ensuring the project goals are achieved.
With the volume of engineering and infrastructure projects underway, the demand for experienced project management professionals has never been higher. We speak to Raymond Burton, Senior Project Manager, to see what life as a senior engineering project manager is really like.
What does a project manager do?
A project manager, very simply, manages projects. It varies depending on what industry you’re in, but the same rules apply: planning, organising, leading, controlling.
I work at an engineering firm that specialises in major infrastructure projects. I work across our transport and urban development projects. I manage the project from initiation, to planning, through the implementation, conclusion and reporting. It is my job to ensure deadlines and reasonable and met, manage budgets, delegate and liaise with different stakeholders.
With the volume of engineering and infrastructure projects underway, the demand for experienced project management professionals has never been higher.
How did your career progress and what training do you have?
I have been in engineering for the better part of 15 years, and have been exclusively project managing for just over five.
I did a Bachelor of Engineering, majoring in civil and a project management diploma at university simultaneously. I have worked for a few different companies and have had experience in everything from roads, bridges, buildings, tunnels, houses, offices, shopping and residential complexes, water and sanitation systems and other infrastructure. Over the years, I managed smaller projects or parts of bigger projects but still loved the hands on work of being an engineer. I took on more and more responsibility and was soon able to take on whole projects.
Describe a typical day
It really depends on the type of project and what stage it’s at. Basically there is a lot of tracking sheet checking, making sure implementation is on track, reviewing budgets and costs, and managing any issues that arise.
I also need to visit the work sites from time to time, so there is always a hardhat and steel capped boots under my desk. Some of these sites are remote so I get to travel a lot.
What’s the best thing about your job?
How varied it is. One day I might be meeting with the client, the next with our finance team, the next out at a site in Byron Bay. Being in charge of such large scale projects is really daunting and sometimes very stressful but still very enjoyable. I focus on what the end result will be, and when I deliver the finished product to a happy client it’s extremely rewarding.
One piece of advice you would give to aspiring project management professionals?
Get involved in as many projects as you can, even if it is just at a very low level. I remember receiving an organisational chart for one of the first projects I’d ever worked on and seeing my name at the very bottom. I knew I wanted to be at the top of that chart one day, and learned everything I could and finally got there.
Find out more on how to deliver projects on time.