Name: Natalie Deane
Job Title: Project Engineer (Traineer PM)
Company: Cavendish Nuclear
What did you do before you became a project manager? I was a PA and worked in a variety of Administrative roles for about 8 years
When and why did you become a project manager? I had been a PA for a Project Manager and noted the similarities and realised it was something I would be good at and a progression from being a PA.
Do you have formal training in project management? If yes, what did you study and how has it helped you in your career? If no, what are the key project management skills you have learnt on the job
I did my ECITB Certificate in Project Controls in 2014 and my Introductory Certificate to the APM in 2016 (both funded by work), and I did my APM PMQ earlier this year which was self-funded. I have been working in Project Controls which has helped with cost, schedule and earned value management greatly. I am responsible for Project Reporting and more recently I am gaining experience in Procurement and Stakeholder Management. I have gained the most valuable experience through my volunteer work.
How has your background working in another profession helped (or hindered!) you as a project manager?
I have struggled within the engineering and construction industry to be taken seriously, especially as I began in an admin role – it is hard to break out of that mould, especially as a female. Both the industry I’m in, and the area I live and work in has quite old-fashioned attitudes to the role of women in the workplace and home.
On the plus side, as I have worked within engineering firms for so long, I feel that has helped as I have a basic understanding and knowledge of engineering terms and processes due to working in a variety of roles (including safety case and environmental coordination) and I am now getting more opportunities due to the rise in women’s networks and a focus on diversity and inclusion.
What advice would you give to someone considering a career in project management?
The ‘soft’ skills count just as much as the ‘hard’ skills. I have no formal technical know-how for nuclear engineering and construction, but I can learn this as I go alone – it is a lot harder to learn how to lead, negotiate and influence people.
Also, not only join the APM and connect with a SIG and/or branch, but also find another relevant institution or organisation (eg. IChemE) to your industry. Networking is a fantastic way of learning from others, broadening your contacts an opening yourself up to opportunities.
The Association for Project Management is now the chartered body for project management professionals and is developing a Chartered Standard. What will Chartered Project Professional status mean to you in the future?
I am very excited by this as it means Project Management is being taken more seriously as a profession!
Finally, what is the one item that you cannot live without and why (it doesn’t need to be PM related!?
My camera! I love to take pictures constantly and have an Instagram photography account!