Mark Readman, PMO Director / Head of Governance, Reporting & Portfolio Management at GSK has recently published his book 'The IT PMO Career - A Roadmap Through to Management', to help the PMO professional understand where their knowledge levels are, how to become the best they can be in their current role and also demonstrate what is required to reach the next stage of the PMO career path. After reading Mark Readman's book, you will notice some common themes that are less specific to the PMO controls and more about the personality and mindset required to have a successful career in the PMO. Mark has highlighted below what he believes to be valuable attributes to anyone in any career but are traits to particularly look out for when recruiting PMO staff.
I like to have a team that are driven, thirsty for knowledge and have an active interest in progressing and understanding the role on the next step of the career path. I always encourage the team to ask questions. It’s normal for someone to have strengths and weaknesses, but the weaknesses should always be viewed as areas of opportunity to improve and not areas to shy away from. Succession planning is very important to me, and ensuring a team dynamic where everyone is working towards their next career move creates a fantastic working environment with a well-motivated workforce.
The PMO is all about the details: noticing changes from week to week, quality checking material to ensure it’s compliant with the process, and also building relationships across the business. A good attention to detail and a passion for what you do are “must-haves” in the PMO. Senior management base their decisions on accurate information. If you can provide valuable independent insights into how the projects are performing and possible problems before they arise, then you will be demonstrating the behaviours of a high-performing team member.
Understanding the role of the PMO within the organisation and also the full content of your role within the PMO is very important. Any or all of the PMO controls that have been covered could be within your remit when taking up a new role, therefore, it’s imperative that you understand each of them in full detail. The most respected people in any organisation are those who understand fully what they are talking about and when questioned give the right answer every time. The larger the organisation the more valuable this becomes. These processes are rarely subject to a full review. Instead, steps are added as required until usually the process becomes quite unwieldy. By tracing back through the antiquated and intricate process steps to understand the full flow and the key parties involved, you will understand the process from end to end, you will be able to offer guidance on the existing process to other parties and also offer insight on how the process can be improved.
Projects and programmes are unpredictable environments. There will always be occasions where you are required to “go the extra mile” and demonstrate commitment to the role. I’ve had many late nights through my career, finalising executive steering reports or problem-solving with senior management. As long as these late nights don’t become an everyday occurrence, they should be embraced and viewed as an opportunity to improve the ways of working in the future. The PMO now has a well-defined and prosperous career path, taking you up to director level within some of the largest companies in the world. Gaining a firm grounding in governance, delivery and best practice will give you the characteristics to go on and become a very well-respected senior manager. The most effective leaders I’ve worked for are those that are well organised and have the information flows set up to know exactly what they need to know, every time they need it. Be mindful of these best practices, learn behaviours from the leaders that you respect, always set the highest of standards, and you will go very far in your PMO career.
This article was kindly contributed by Mark Readman, PMO Director / Head of Governance at GSK
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