For the Love of Project Management

My father, just like my grandfather, was a building contractor in a small town in Ohio.  Contrary to OSHA guidelines, I spent quite a bit of my childhood visiting construction sites with my dad.  It seems like just yesterday that I could barely see over the dashboard of my dad’s rusted Ford pickup truck with empty pouches of Workhorse brand chewing tobacco strewn across the seats.  While other little kids were playing in their sandbox with Tonka trucks, I was going to actual construction sites with life-sized bulldozers and dump trucks.    

I was fascinated with construction because people were always creating, fixing, or improving something.  Everything was solid and real.  When the work was done it somehow felt like the world was a little bit better.  To this day, I still get a sentimental whenever I catch the smell of fresh cut lumber or damp earth that has been dug up.

Fast forward about 30 years.  There I was, a Sr. Director of an enterprise project management office (ePMO) at a 50 billion dollar company looking outside the window of my office.  I had truly achieved success in my career as a business professional.  That’s when I started reflecting on my own personal journey.  I had come a long way from being a little kid wandering around a construction site. Business school, master’s degree, and a countless series of project related assignments that took me and my family literally all over the world.  It was in this moment of reflection that I broke out in quiet laughter.  I realized what they say is true; we all turn into our parents.  In spite of how different my career path had been, unbeknownst to myself, I still ended up following in the footsteps of my father and grandfather.  Sure, they were called building contractors, but they were really project managers  They designed plans, scoped the work, estimated and financed the job, organized teams, fought with sub-contractors, fired deadbeats, stepped up to solve problems, and constantly adjusted to meet the changing demands of their customers.  These were the same exact activities I was leading, but instead of being surrounded by piles of lumber and bricks, I was surrounded by piles of paper, computer code, and grey cubicles. 

It was in this split second of clarity when it dawned on me.  I loved project management.  That’s because, regardless of what the project is, you can look at the fruits of your labor and feel the pure unadulterated joy of accomplishment.  It doesn’t matter if it’s building a house or a creating a piece of software.  Completing a project just feels good.  And once you’re done, there’s inevitably another challenge waiting just around the corner.  That’s what makes project management so special.  That’s why I love project management.

It’s my hope that the content on this site might spark a similar love for projects and a passion for accomplishment. By sharing our experiences with each other, I genuinely believe we can makes things just a little bit better.