Real world programme managers

Following on from last week’s post “What is a programme manager role in the real world?” I thought I’d jot down some of the real world examples I have collated over the years.

I’m ever curious to understand why there is such disparity between roles out in the real world. Obviously there are numerous variations on the requirements for a programme manager. Especially in terms of the expertise and the competencies; these are usually down to the specific circumstances of the organisation. However, there typically is a core set of skills, expertise and competencies that organisations need in a programme manager.

I think that programme managers need to have attained certain characteristics. Characteristics that give them the kudos, even gravitas, to lead and inspire those around. Attributes such as:

  • Professionalism and integrity – consistently working to the highest standard and inspiring others to do the same;
  • Passion and energy – delivering value every day, going the extra mile to ensure customer expectations are regularly exceeded;
  • Desire to help customers and colleagues become successful – leading by example, delivering results through practical actions;
  • Appetite to be part of a larger team and willingness to contribute to the overall growth;
  • Commercial awareness and good judgement.

I’m not sure whether these characteristics are a given, but it is certainly something I look for!

I’ve been researching the market place for programme managers for several years (a great way to spot trends across a multitude of industries). Here are some examples from a random selection of industries:

Programme Manager, Financial Services

Key skills/experience:

  • Proven ability of leading large-scale, complex IT integration programs (£20m+);
  • Demonstrable experience of successful change management;
  • Experience of leading large, diverse teams across multiple workstreams;
  • Proven ability to lead large-scale multi-disciplined programme teams;
  • Ability to work at both strategic and detailed level;
  • Excellent stakeholder management skills and evidence of strong networking skills;
  • Strong leadership and line management skills;
  • Experience of performance management and working with internal/external consultants.

Programme Manager, Retail

Key skills/experience:

  • Proven ability to deliver multi-faceted, complex transformational change programmes;
  • Ability and presence to influence across all levels of a business optimising relationships across functions and businesses;
  • Proven ability to lead and manage a skilled multi-disciplinary project team;
  • Solid, in-depth project management and commercial third-party management experience;
  • Goal orientated & strong delivery/milestone focus;
  • Experienced in full life-cycle project management implementation;
  • Strong proven leadership skills;
  • Ability and presence to influence across all levels of a business optimising relationships across functions and businesses.

Programme Manager, Utilities

Key skills/experience:

  • Extensive high profile/large budget, complex, multi country programmes (>£10m) experience;
  • Strong track record of managing large complex business and technical programmes of strategic significance via third-party suppliers;
  • Strong programme mobilisation/ initiation/ planning experience;
  • Demonstrable first class stakeholder management, communication and presentation skills, with strong and influential personal credibility;
  • Significant experience of managing significant business change/transformation challenges;
  • Practical understanding of delivering change programmes into ITIL based organisations;
  • Formal external qualification/accreditation to PRINCE2 or PMI methodologies;
  • Significant experience of PRINCE2 in a project environment will be considered as a strong advantage.

Programme Manager, Government

Key skills/experience:

  • Shaping, designing and driving the delivery of projects within X environment;
  • Led the development and tracking of integrated project plans;
  • Led the development of project deliverables in order to meet project objectives;
  • Established/maintained processes to manage scope, risk and issues throughout the project life-cycle;
  • Controlled large-scale budgets;
  • Established/maintained project communications and information systems within the programme and externally;
  • Established/maintained project quality and performance standards;
  • Led teams of 25+ people, provided career development, direction and motivation to team members;
  • Managed peer-level client relationships as well as third-party partner and/or vendor relationships;
  • Managed recruitment and hiring activities, as well as engaged in training and internal initiatives;
  • Contributed to the on-going development of the programme management domain and support knowledge sharing.

I could go on (I have more than 150 examples). But as you can see from the roles I’ve detailed there are mix of common requirements and some specific to the sector the role is in.

What attributes do you seek in programme managers?

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