You Know You Are A Project Manager When…


Michael O’Brochta, ACP, PMP

President, Zozer Inc.

Maryland, USA

When are you a project manager? Simple question. It is a question being asked and answered by an increasingly large number of people. Indeed, project management was ranked in 2009 by U.S. News and World Report as the third-most valued skill by employers, behind only leadership/negotiation skills and business analysis. More than 600,000 people from 184 countries are members and/or credential holders in the world’s largest project management professional association, the Project Management Institute. It is a question being asked increasingly by individuals striving to adopt the practices in the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), the International Project Management Association (IPMA) certification, and by U.S. government civilian employees as they endeavor to align their skills with the Federal Acquisition Certification for Program and Project Managers (FAC-P/PM). So, how do you know when you are a project manager?

This paper will offer some insights into important aspects of being a project manager. It will explore project managers’ view of work, the attitudes of project managers when confronted with barriers and obstacles, and the relationship of project managers with their customers and stakeholders. A comparison will be made between accidental or interim project managers and career project managers. Project manager behavior toward relationships, toward decision-making, toward power, and toward their project, will be reviewed. A simplified checklist will be included that can be used as an aid in determining if you are a project manager.

This paper is intended to provoke critical thinking about what it means to be a project manager and perhaps to provoke some introspection about being a project manager.


The Problem

Project management is an activity bring undertaken by increasingly large numbers of people worldwide; according to a study published by the Anderson Economic Group, an average of 1.2 million project management positions will need to be filled each year through 2016 (PMI, 2011, p. 16). Large numbers of those people adopting and using project management are doing so after they have established a career and work history in other fields. These people are discovering the value of project management when applied to these fields:  information technology specialists are using project management for to improve product and service delivery; health care professionals are using project management for efforts to advance patient care; corporate mid and senior level managers are using project management for efforts to achieve strategic goals; sales and marketing professionals are using project management for efforts to increase market share; and education professionals are using project management for the development of new curriculums.

This steep growth in the application of project management has been met, in part, by the growth of opportunities for individuals to learn about and apply project management. The project management profession has responded by expanding its capacity, as have the training industry and higher education. The Project Management Institute (PMI) increased by a factor of ten during to 1990s, grew another six times during the 2000s, and stands today at over 600,000 members and credential holders (PMI, 2012, p 2). Approximately 660 institutions now offer a project management degree or certificate program, a ten-fold growth in a decade (PMI, 2010, p. 2).


To read entire paper (click here)


Michael-O’Brochtaflag-usaMichael O’Brochta, ACP, PMP 


Michael O’Brochta, who has managed hundreds of projects during the past thirty years, is also an experienced line manager, author, lecturer, trainer and consultant. He holds a master’s degree in project management, a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, and is certified as a an ACP and a PMP. As Zozer Inc. President, he is helping organizations raise their level of project management performance. As senior project manager at the Central Intelligence Agency, he led the project management and systems engineering training and certification program to mature practices agency-wide. Mr. O’Brochta’s other recent work includes leading the development of standards and courses for the new U.S. Federal Acquisition Certification for Program and Project Managers. He serves at the PMI corporate level on the Ethics Member Advisory Group where he led the development of an ethical decision-making framework that was released PMI-wide, and at the chapter level where he built and led the international PMIWDC Chapter-to-Chapter program; he is a graduate of the Leadership Institute Mater Class. Mr. O’Brochta has written / presented papers at every PMI North American Global Congress during the past decade as well as at many international, and regional conferences. Topics that he is currently passionate about include how to get executives to act for project success and great project managers. Since his recent climb of another of the world’s seven summits, he has been exploring the relationship between project management and mountain climbing.  He can be contacted at [email protected].