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Inside the Mind of a Project Manager – From Passion to Profession

By Emmanuel Ranganai 15 Sep 2023
Inside the Mind of a Project Manager – From Passion to Profession

Emmanuel Ranganai is a seasoned business executive with over 10 years of experience in operations and project management. He holds an MSc degree as well as PMP, PMI Business Analysis, and IPMA-C certifications. He is skilled in strategy mapping, portfolio management, and health and safety protocols. Emmanuel excels at aligning projects with business goals and has a track record of standardising operations by implementing templates and policies. 

Q: Could you provide some insight into your background and what specifically motivated your interest in project management? 

With over ten years of experience in Project Management, I've focused on engineering, spanning service, installation, maintenance, and manufacturing projects. My engagement with diverse stakeholders across positions and professions has enriched my understanding. My drive to pursue Project Management stems from the need to convert plans into tangible outcomes. Effective management ensures that intentions translate into results, preventing wastage of time and resources. 

Q: Throughout your career, what project are you most proud of, and why? 

Among the numerous projects I've undertaken, the one that resonates with me most is the comprehensive service and maintenance of network Tower stations for a prominent network provider in Zimbabwe. This endeavour was characterised by extensive engagement and collaboration with employees across all tiers of the client's organisation. What truly stirs my pride is the realisation that our meticulous services were integral to ensuring uninterrupted network connectivity throughout the entire nation. The weight of this responsibility, coupled with the positive impact on countless lives, has instilled a profound sense of achievement, prompting me to carry my professional mantle with elevated pride. 

Q: Could you share some of the key challenges in project management and how you've navigated through them in your career? 

Leadership commitment remains a significant challenge in project management. Often, the assumption is that initial project approval equates to ongoing support. I've learned that maintaining management buy-in is crucial. Additionally, navigating resistance to change from stakeholders, even initiators, requires careful management to prevent project failure. 

Q: What strategies do you use to maintain project quality standards while also keeping an eye on the budget and timeline? 

I ensure the project vision is effectively communicated, emphasising that tools like risk registers, issue logs, and plans are means to safeguard our objectives. Parameters like budget, scope, and schedule are established at project onset, not as afterthoughts. Constant reflection on these constraints guides decision-making throughout the project lifecycle.

Q: Receiving feedback is crucial in project management. What strategies do you use to gather and integrate your team's feedback into your project management methodology? 

Just as breakfast is essential, feedback is vital for informed decision-making. I advocate for lessons learned sessions post-project completion, conducted once or twice depending on project complexity. Team reflections help identify areas for improvement, enhancing future project endeavours. 

Q: It's often perceived that a career in project management can be quite stressful. How do you handle the pressure and stress associated with managing high-stakes projects? 

While stress is inevitable, two motivations keep me grounded. Firstly, lessons can be learned from every situation, even defeat, contributing to future successes. Secondly, intrinsic passion for the profession counters stress. Genuine enthusiasm, not just obligation, is essential for effective project management. 

Q: How do you handle a situation when a project fails or doesn't deliver the expected results? 

A project's failure is certainly not the intended outcome, yet I firmly believe that failures can be equally instructive as successes. I echo Nelson Mandela's perspective that "I never lose. I either win, or I learn." Each setback provides a wealth of insights that can be harnessed to reshape future approaches. Instead of dwelling on disappointment, I diligently analyse the reasons behind the failure, identifying actionable lessons that can inform more effective strategies in subsequent endeavours. This resilient approach ensures that even setbacks contribute to my growth and evolution as a project manager. 

Q: What are some of the common misconceptions about project management that you often encounter? 

A prevalent and limiting misconception in project management is the notion that success is solely defined by meeting time, budget, and scope criteria. This misperception has, unfortunately, led to the completion of projects that, while adhering to these parameters, fail to deliver substantial value. In our rapidly changing world, the relevance of a project can evolve even within its timeline. To counter this misconception, I advocate for ongoing evaluation—asking not only if we're on track but also if we're still on the right track, aligned with the evolving needs and opportunities that underpin our projects. 

Q: From your perspective, how important is project management certification, and what value does it add to a professional's career? 

The significance of project management certification cannot be overstated. Beyond the formal validation of skills and knowledge, certification is a commitment to professionalism and adherence to a defined code of conduct. It showcases to potential employers and collaborators that you possess a foundational understanding of industry best practices and a dedication to upholding them. In an era where organisations seek reliable and skilled professionals to steward their projects, certification stands as a powerful testament to your competence and commitment. 

Q: Could you share your insights on how technological advancements, especially with regard to AI, have influenced project management recently? How do you foresee the evolution of the project manager's role with advancements in machine learning and predictive analytics? 

AI has notably streamlined project management, particularly in areas like time/schedule management. It empowers managers by expediting document creation and ideation, freeing time for honing soft skills. AI enhances communication and problem-solving abilities, augmenting a project manager's effectiveness.

Q: In what ways do you think the educational landscape for project management will evolve in the next decade? 

The curriculum must swiftly incorporate AI's role in project management, addressing its ethical aspects. Revision should extend to certification programs to align with evolving practices and codes of conduct.

Q: Many of our readers are aspiring project managers. What advice would you give them for a successful career in project management? 

Approach the career with a passion to build resilience against challenges. A genuine enthusiasm for the field, coupled with a commitment to continuous learning, will pave the way for a successful project management career.