Quick fire Questions with a CTS Project Manager

Overview

Nick Keen helps answer some pressing questions surrounding being a Project Manager, showcasing highlights in his career so far.

What’s your role within CTS? And what career steps did you take to get here?

I am a Project Manager here at CTS and interim Project Delivery Lead until July, covering for a colleague who’s currently on maternity leave. In terms of how I got here? Many nights studying and working for the right company got me to where I am now. The first major steps in my career in the world of IT started with a firm based in central London. Like CTS, it has lots of ambition, a great culture and continues rapid growth. 

I was a Systems Engineer and Project Manager during my time there and picked up various Microsoft accreditations for the administration of Exchange, O365, RDS, Citrix and Cisco networking.

But, whilst there were plenty of engineers to drive the technical activities, the company lacked project management. It was here that I learned the importance of scoping work properly, identifying all the risks to what we were planning to do, building out deployment plans and timelines and managing projects through to success. The business paid towards the completion of my Prince 2 certificate to help ensure projects never fail!

I then made a big life decision to move away from London after 5 years and up to Cheshire. I took a role working for a very small IT firm looking to develop. Initially it was a job just to get me out of the city quickly but during my time there, it really opened my eyes to how things shouldn’t be done, and I was determined to contribute in turning around processes and procedures which led to technical projects being delivered successfully.

The email then arrived from a talent scout at CTS, and needless to say, it was an opportunity I couldn’t refuse.

What does a normal day look like for a Project Manager?

To be honest, there really is no typical day as a Project Manager and every day is a new adventure! Activities vary day on day depending on what a project needs. But, some of the key day to day activities include: Planning and management of resources, building out and management of project scope, risk management, managing project budget, managing key business documents related to the project(s) such as Statements of Work (SoW’s) 

This is all achieved through effective communication and collaboration, which is around 90% of a PM’s day! Project managers have a people-facing role and a lot of what we do is chasing down internal and external stakeholders and making sure they are on track with critical tasks and deadlines. We work alongside teams every day to ensure their energy is spent on meeting each project milestone, always working toward the common goal which is project delivery success.

What’s your particular highlight of your time as a Project Manager?

Being given the opportunity to work for Europe's No.1 Google partner and working with some big brand names such as the BBC, Booking.com, WPP and Rocco Forte Hotels. 

What do you think are core skills needed to be a Project Manager?

Communication - Most of what PM’s do is communicate, so you need to have strong communication skills to be able to convey messages to the customer and team members. Listening is also an important aspect of effective communication that allows Project Managers to connect with team members, develop better relationships with customers and manage the expectations of key stakeholders.

Leadership - Strong leadership skills are important for Project Managers. They allow leaders to oversee and coordinate tasks as well as motivate and encourage the team and define the road map to successfully complete the project.

Team management - A Project Manager must be able to bring a team together and move them in one direction, aligning their personal goals with those of the organisation. Team management skills include the ability to effectively delegate responsibilities, handle conflicts, evaluate performances and coach team members to help them improve their skills.

Methodology - A good Project Manager must have the ability to apply frameworks and methodologies, such as Agile, throughout the lifecycle of a project.

Budget management - One of the most important responsibilities for a Project Manager is to manage and control budget throughout the project lifecycle. Project Managers need to be able to effectively identify where costs overrun and what changes they need to make to control those costs.

Interpersonal skills - These include self-confidence, relationship management and collaboration skills. The ability to collaborate well as part of a team allows the team to work together more productively and complete the project more efficiently. Relationship management skills are also essential, as they enable the Project Manager to develop and maintain relationships with customers, team members and other suppliers. 

In addition to these essential key skills, Project Managers must be organised and manage their time effectively. This is important for creating and maintaining deadlines throughout the project lifecycle. PM’s should be effective problem solvers, be able to negotiate terms with all stakeholders involved, identify key project risks and be motivated individuals!

Who would you say you work closely with? What’s that work relationship like? 

I would say I work closely with Charlie, Head of Google Workspace. As the interim Project Delivery Lead, there’s regular communication with Charlie on a weekly basis to ensure that team members feel supported, resourcing for new projects is managed effectively and processes are regularly reviewed and improved. I enjoy a friendly, open and honest relationship with Charlie who is a great people manager. A really important quality that makes working for CTS all the more enjoyable. 

What advice would you give someone who wanted to be a Project Manager at CTS?

Anyone who’s looking to join CTS should be looking to share in the values and culture that forms our business. Learning and trying new things, appreciating others and always willing to get involved. 

CTS is a born in the cloud, fast paced, rapidly growing organisation with a real passion for tech and providing customers with the best possible solution and professional service which makes us really stand out from anyone else. 

If that someone is looking for just that, then they could be the ideal candidate for joining our fun and friendly team!

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