CELEBRATING WOMEN IN PROJECT MANAGEMENT SERIES
Location: Brisbane, Australia
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Jasmine has been adding value through internal improvement projects for her entire career. Before she moved into contracting she worked as a Civil Designer for multidisciplinary industry leaders like Cardno and Arup. Where an ‘all hands on deck’ corporate attitude meant working a variety of roles in Project Coordination, Stakeholder Engagement, and Civil/ Utility Design. She regularly found herself identifying internal problems and completing small to medium improvement projects. In 2014, she completed a Masters in Project Management with her main focus to learn more about contracts management and leading organisational change.
Through the relationships with her stakeholders and clients, Jasmine has noticed that a number of large and medium companies are struggling to meet their clients expectations while achieving their internal margins. The most common issues seem to be double handling, over processing or minimal regulations. But couldn’t all of these things be smoothed out if there was a higher dedication to continuous improvement and the teams had buy-in?
To better understand this problem and how to add more value to her clients Jasmine immersed herself in learning everything she didn’t already know about improvement, particularly process, and waste reduction. She discovered that people don’t typically dislike change if they can clearly see the benefits to them, and the company.
When not liberating the world from the curse of wastage, Jasmine enjoys partaking in the fine art of public speaking, dancing and high-fiving with people who are moving towards their goals.
Why do you enjoy working in the field of project management?
I am continuously learning and work with people.
What are your greatest achievements as a Project Manager?
It is the small wins that I get excited about like reducing my project teams work load from 60+ hours a week to under 40 by redistributing their workload based on skills and interests so that they could go home to their families.
Why is a career as a Project Manager a great choice for women?
Project Management is such a broad field with a range of skill sets. What I think is consistent is that there is always an opportunity to use coordination skills to see the bigger picture and piece the bits together. There is a lot of dealing with different people and if working on smaller projects than the satisfaction of seeing a project through from start to completion on a regular basis is very satisfying.
How can women stand out in the field of Project Management?
Women who present a confident front and own their authority are the ones that I remember.
What are some of the challenges women face as Project Managers?
The three main challenges I have seen women face are returning back to work after kids or study, qualifications, and cognitive ideas and norms that come into play if a woman is in a male dominated industry.
Firstly, there is this widely held idea that if someone takes time away from work in a particular job role for any reason, that they magically forget the skills and knowledge they used a few years earlier. Neuroscience tells us that once a habit is formed that it is there to stay and building new stronger habits simply makes a different neurological path. It doesn’t take people long to get back into the habits once they get back to work.
Secondly, as a contractor, I have faced a lot of application rejection based on the idea that to work on a project as a Project Manager, one requires a bachelor degree in that field. I get that for engineering firms who make their Project Managers sign off as the head engineer certifying the job. I am unsure how this applied to IT, fit outs, and change projects. Project Management is a different skill set to the technical experts on a project.
What can we do to help women to be exceptional Project Managers?
Three things, firstly more organisations need to focus on training managers in skills like dealing with conflict, negotiating, scheduling and managing team engagement. Investing in people can ensure staff stay longer. I have seen near entire teams quit after a new PM with poor people skills takes over.
Secondly, I believe it benefits everyone when we create psychologically safe project teams in which members feel accepted and respected to take risks and achieve results.
Third, encourage managers to seek mentors and effective feedback.
Any other comments about Women in Project Management?
Seek to continuously improve.
To celebrate International Women’s Day for 2018, I will be sharing the profiles and stories of some incredible women who have flourished in their project management careers. May they inspire you and the women around you to kick goals in the world of project management.
Read more about my ‘Celebrating Women in Project Management’ 50-day series here. Starts February 1, 2018.
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