Can Project Managers manage projects across different industries with limited Industry Specific Experience?


Ranelle Cliff, CPPM

Shanghai, China


I am at that awkward point in my career: mid-30s, at the conclusion of a long secondment with a client, in a foreign city, and it seems that every day I am faced I am grappling with two questions… How did I get here? And where to next?

The idiomatic expression ‘Square peg in a round hole’ could be used to describe my career to date; I was navigating a Major Fleet Unit in the Royal Australian Navy when it wasn’t common for women to be in that billet and although I work in an engineering firm, I have a Bachelor of Arts, with a major in English Literature in lieu of an Engineering degree. Neither of these activities or qualifications guarantee success as a Project Manager – but I’ve had that on my business cards for at least the last 10 years and been certified as such by the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM). Through examining my experiences I’ve come to the conclusion that success as a Project Manager is more often determined by how the project is delivered not what is being delivered.


This article will compare sector specific experiences across a number of industries to demonstrate that how the Project Manager delivers the project contributes more to the success of the project than their technical knowledge. Therefore it follows that the PM can transfer across and between industries. As such the core Project Management competencies are fundamental to the success of project management, not industry specific knowledge or qualifications.

Due to length constraints, this article is limited to the examination of the implementation of two of the nine PMBOK defined competencies. All examples are drawn from my personnel experiences in Australia and Asia. 


To read entire article (click here)

About the Author

flag-australiapmwj15-oct2013-Cliff-AUTHOR IMAGERanelle Cliff

Shanghai, China

Ranelle Cliff has experience across several industries in delivering a diverse range of projects to both public and private clients.  Joining Arup in March 2007 Ranelle has been instrumental to the Program and Project Management group’s success in in Perth, Singapore and Shanghai. She is well versed in all the elements of project management, in both the application to projects and the training of new staff.  Her skills in communicating with different Clients, organising geographically diverse and multi-disciplinary resources are an essential element to her abilities in leadership and management, in particular Stakeholder management. Ranelle has maintained her status as a Certified Practicing Project Manager (CPPM) with the Australian Institute of Project Management since 2007.

Ranelle joined Arup from the Defence Industry where she spent 3 years working on acquisition and integrated logistic support projects for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).  This was preceded by nine years’ service in the RAN, culminating in an operational deployment as Navigating Office of a major fleet unit.

Ranelle is currently on a leave of absence from Arup, pursuing studies in Mandarin in Shanghai. She can be contacted at [email protected]