If I wanted to become a project manager, where would I start?

over 6 years ago from Michael Schofield, Director of Engineering @WhereByUs

  • Darren Krape, over 6 years ago

    I am currently a Sr. Product Manager at Amazon, and I don't have any certifications. The distinction between Project and Product Manager here is pretty blurry, though it may be more distinct elsewhere. Generally, it seems fairly rare for PMs in my area to have Project Manager certifications, though many do have MBAs.

    Speaking to my particular experience, I never really planned on a PM track. My background is in design, but I often worked for small organizations or on small teams, so I took on a lot of the management work myself. This helped me demonstrate those skills and through promotions or new jobs, helped me to where I am now. Looking back, I definitely think I'm better-off having taken the "organic" route rather than going for certification early. There really is nothing better than direct, on the job experience (especially in job interviews).

    One thing that may be worth her thinking about is what aspects of project management she wants to focus on. For example, at Amazon I am both the manager, in that I oversee the day-to-day execution, and also the business owner, so I am responsible for the overall vision and roadmap. I really like taking on both sides, but I can see how someone would like only one. Here we have another role called "Technical Program Manager", who is the liaison between tech and the business teams. This would be better for someone who really likes tech, but is less interested in the overall vision.

    As Alex noted, probably the best thing is to talk to people in roles that look interesting and something she'd want to aspire to. That can help focus on the skills (and maybe certifications) that would be most beneficial to focus on.

    7 points