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Why should you be a Project Manager?

A Project Manager’s responsibilities are diverse and plentiful. Not only are you responsible for ensuring that the service your company is delivering is completed on time - and to the client’s satisfaction - but you also need to liaise between different elements of the business to ensure every project that you’re managing goes smoothly.

Project Management can be an extremely rewarding career, with great progression opportunities and the chance to push yourself in ways that help you develop, both in and out of work. Interest in Project Management is at a high- and 97% of organisations are of the opinion that great Project Management is critical to business performance and success. It’s not just the managers themselves that contribute to the success of this function, either. There’s a whole host of professionals who help make Project Management run smoothly.

We spoke to Danielle Quarles, Programme Manager at ICON for more insight on this part of the business.

What do you do?

I’m a Programme Manager, which means that I’m responsible for managing and overseeing Project Managers, rather than the projects that they’re working on.

Talk me through your day-to-day responsibilities

I have a lot of different Project Managers working underneath me, each managing many projects. As a result, I spend my time checking in with Project Managers, meeting with them to ensure that all projects are delivered on time and to a high standard. I also do a lot of work with my clients to make sure that they’re happy, and I liaise with upper management at my client and ICON to ensure they have all the information and updates that they need regarding the projects in my portfolio.

I travel to see my clients in face-to-face meetings as needed, and participate in regular leadership teleconferences. There’s a lot of communication in my role, as I have to deliver status updates on a regular basis and triage questions throughout the day. Basically, being a Programme Manager is all about delivering projects, resourcing studies and making sure that everybody has what they need to get the job done.

What made you want to do your job?

My education background is in science – I have a B.S. in Animal and Poultry Sciences and a M.P.H in Epidemiology. I started in the field as a Clinical Research Associate, and I really liked the science and the detail involved in that, but when I saw a Project Management role come up, I knew I had to go into it. I really liked how Project Managers got to see the bigger picture and oversaw the delivery of a project from a financial and scheduling standpoint. The job combines both operations and science, which is a good fit for me: I like the idea that at the end of the day you’re delivering a product that helps the patient, and using your scientific knowledge to help people.

What do you like about working at ICON?

I like working at ICON because we’re a very accessible company: We have a culture that encourages us to speak freely with our colleagues and other members of management. We can ask questions and change processes in ways that make our work better for us: I can talk about science, operations and things that aren’t working with both my boss and Vice President. My manager is very involved in helping solving problems, but I still feel empowered to make decisions at my level without a lot of pushback.

What training do you need to be a Project Manager?

In order to be a good Project Manager, you need to know the basic skills required for managing and delivering a project on time. It’s not hard to learn, but you need to be dedicated. You should really seek out opportunities to learn how to be a Project Manager, for instance, by doing a Project Management Professionals Certification. You can get training within the company, but a lot of it is down to you seeking out Project Managers that you admire, asking them for mentoring and asking to shadow them, which I what I did. You need to have drive.

Why should you be a Project Manager?

Being a Project Manager is a full-time job. You can’t just drop it at the end of the day; instead, you need to be constantly on the ball to ensure projects are completed on time. It’s also really rewarding. Working in Project Management does impact people’s lives: I work in oncology, where you have the potential to prolong or save patients through the work that you do. For me, that’s reason enough to be a Project Manager.

What are the top skills needed to be a Project Manager?

People need to be detail-oriented, able to manage many tasks over a length of time and deliver an output at the end. If you have the ability to manage a timeline and budget, then this job is for you: it’s not a short-term undertaking, as you can’t just drop everything on a Tuesday evening. You need to keep patients at the forefront of your mind and be able to keep your team motivated- especially if, like me, you have numerous people working for you around the world. You need to be a people person, and you need to be extremely organised!

Reach further with ICON

At ICON, we’re proud to connect the freshest talent from around the world to the best jobs in Project Management. Start your career now: browse our vacancies.
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