How to be a fierce project manager and take control of your career

by Elise Stevens | Futureproof Your Career Podcast

If there is one thing you take from this podcast today, it should be the importance of taking control of your own career. Many of us leave the trajectory of our careers to be determined by our managers, but Anita Phagura is here to tell you that doing a good job is simply not enough.

Our managers likely won’t always have our careers on their minds, or even our best interests at heart. It isn’t just about turning up on time and putting in the hours but about knowing our strengths and weaknesses, celebrating our successes and being heard. It’s about being fierce.

When Anita returned to work after having a family, she struggled to find female mentors having a similar experience. That’s when she started Fierce Project Management, a networking group for women and underrepresented groups in project management. The group offers mentoring support, leadership development and helps organisations build more inclusive cultures.

In this podcast, Anita explains to Elise Stevens why being fierce simply means being your boldest, most authentic self – and why that’s more likely to get you where you want to go than being a people-pleaser.

Points raised in this podcast:

  • Project management as a career has been tough on women but it is changing for the better.
  • Many women say when they consider their gender as well as their age, race, and family commitments, they often feel alone or underrepresented at work.
  • There is still cultural biases and structural challenges that impact women. But it’s also important that we question the stories we tell ourselves, and whether we are putting limitations on ourselves.
  • The four cornerstones of being a Fierce Project Manager are amplifying your message, ally building, assertiveness and authenticity.
  • AMPLIFY: Women often say they’re not being heard. It’s important to use confident language and self-promote in a way that feels comfortable to you.
  • ALLY BUILDING: Finding support as a woman can be challenging in a male-dominated industry, which makes relationship-building and networking crucial. Be clear on what you need and how you can help others. We all need to feel like someone’s got our back.
  • ASSERTIVENESS: When we are clear on our strengths, our goals and our boundaries, people will be more likely to think of us when there are opportunities.
  • AUTHENTICITY: Women often get messages about assimilating or being like everyone else and that can make us second guess ourselves. Being authentic is powerful and fulfilling.
  • Understanding how much stress you can handle in your job is important. It will help you set your boundaries.
  • Many of the changes that have occurred in the workplace that have advantaged women, also advantage men. For example, flexible work.

About Anita Phagura:

Anita Phagura is the founder of Fierce Project Management, a movement to empower women and underrepresented groups in project management.

Having worked as a project manager for more than a decade in male-dominated industries, mostly within railway and construction, Anita was used to being the only woman in the room. After becoming a manager, she started to notice how gender was relevant – as well as the lack of senior female role models to help navigate the path. She realised most women she spoke to in the profession had their own story of how their gender was relevant to their careers.

Fierce Project Management was formed in 2019 on the back of research collected by listening to 100 women working in projects. Recognising the value of community, Anita also created the Fierce Project Management Tribe as a networking community for project professionals.

You can connect with Anita on LinkedIn