Project Manager

Project manager is a career which has its roots in the construction industry and is associated with the coordination of large engineering and construction projects. However over the years the value of the skills used in construction and engineering has been applied and developed for most other industries.

Today the career of project manager can be described as the activities or tasks concerned with successfully achieving a set of goals. This includes planning, management, scheduling, coordination, financial control and maintaining progress of the activities that comprise the project. Reduced to its simplest, project management is the discipline of maintaining the risk of failure at as low a value as necessary over the lifetime of the project. Risk of failure arises primarily from the presence of uncertainty at all stages of a project.

An alternate point of view is that project management is the discipline of defining and achieving targets while optimizing the use of resources (time, money, people, space, etc). Project management is quite often the responsibility of an individual project manager. This individual seldom participates directly in the activities that produce the end result, but rather strives to maintain the progress of various parties in such a way that overall risk of failure is reduced.

In any project, the duration of a project is the time from its start to its completion, which can take days, weeks, months or even years. There are various stages in a project life-cycle, but all projects follow a similar methodology and course of problem solving such as, defining the problem, weighing options, choosing a path, implementation and evaluation. Project management tries to gain control over four variables, time, cost, quality and scope.

Project managers are found in all industries and are most often found in consulting or other team-oriented environments. The role certainly requires expertise in the specific project area. It also requires the ability to lead and manage cross-functional teams. Here are three examples of industries where project managers work: 

Construction Project Manager

Construction project manager use their knowledge of all aspects of building and construction to plan, execute and monitor building projects until project completion.Typical projects might include the engineering and construction of a building. Construction project managers, serve as liaison between architects, quanity surveyors and building contractors (in some cases the architect may be the project manager).  The project manager does not carry out all of the tasks of managing the project but they do need to ensure that all aspects of the building process run smoothly.  

ICT Project Manager

ICT project managers plan, organize, direct, control and coordinate quality accredited ICT projects.  They are accountable for day-to-day operations of resourcing, scheduling, prioritisation and task coordination, and meeting project milestones, objectives and deliverables within agreed timeframes and budget. For example, in the design, coding, testing and documentation of a computer software program.

Clinical Project Manager

The development of the science and clinical testing of a new drug requires both expertise in the field of pharmaceutical / medicine as well as project management knowledge and experience in running clinical trials. The Clinical Project Manager is responsible the set up, conduct and closure of a clinical trial within the country or countries identified, ensuring the compliance with timelines, milestones and budget, and in accordance with teh legislative requirements.

Personal Requirements

  • well-developed communication skills
  • management and leadership ability technical aptitude
  • able to coordinate team work
  • motivational leadership skills
  • prepared to work outdoors
  • get along well with and motivate people at all levels
  • good communication skills


  • oil companies
  • mining houses
  • civil engineers
  • government departments
  • building contractors and subcontractors
  • construction companies
  • municipalities
  • financial institutions
  • retailers / manufacturers in building industry
  • self-employment, as a consultant

Getting Started

  • talk to project managers about this career and ask permission to observe them at work
  • try getting part-time or vacation work as an assistant to a projects manager, even if unpaid.


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