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Mark Phillipy's sensible project management

With over 15 years of experience in project management in the IT industry, Mark Phillipy has a lot to share.

Picture of Mark Phillipy - the sensible project manager

That’s why this week we’re finding your inspiration with the Sensible Project Manager – thanks Mark.

How did you get into project management?

“Like many PM’s today, I am what is often referred to as an accidental project manager

“My degree is in Design Engineering Technology which landed me a job at the Boeing Company right out of college. 

“My first job was to test the Computer Aided Design – CAD – system Boeing uses to build their airplanes. 

“Over time I was given more and more responsibility until eventually I was running projects. 

“I didn’t even realise I was a project manager until I left Boeing and was hired officially.”

What does ‘sensible project management’ mean to you?

“I believe it is important to take a ‘sensible’ approach to project management

“There are many different project management frameworks that provide processes and tools to help a PM manage their projects. 

“I like to use those methodologies as guidelines and approach project management in a very practical way. 

“I believe that the sensible project manager always looks for the practical way to manage a project to success.”

How highly do you rate certification?

“In 2001, I earned my Project Management Professional – PMP – certification from PMI

“I consider this certification essential for project managers wherever you are in the world. 

“My PMP has helped in two key ways. 

“First, it has helped increase my income as most companies are willing to pay more for a certified PMP. 

“Secondly, it has opened up opportunities since many positions require a PMP.

“I also have agile certifications

“This certification changed my perspective on how to approach projects in a more agile way. 

“Agile has become especially important for those PM’s working in the software industry.”

What are the common topics covered through your blog and hangouts?

“Most of our topics on the #PMHangout on Google+ and on The Sensible Project Manager Podcast cover the soft skills of project management. 

“Although it is important to understand the mechanics of executing a project, what differentiates a good project manager from the great ones are the soft skills of that PM. 

“That is why we talk mostly about communications, teamwork, and other soft skills necessary for the success of a sensible project manager.”

Having worked to traditional project management methodologies and also with agile, are you an agile convert or an advocate of a hybrid approach?

“I believe that the most important part of project management is to deliver value to the customer – that is the reason for projects and this profession. 

“The methodologies we use are only tools to help the project teams deliver that value. 

“On my projects, I like to use the tools that will help my team deliver the greatest value to the customer. 

“For some projects it is best to use a waterfall approach, for others a strict agile approach. 

“Often I find a hybrid approach is what the culture will allow.”

What three top tips would you offer anyone just starting out as a project manager?

“The three most important things new project managers should consider as they start their career are:

  1. “Look for a mentor – find a project manager, preferably within your organisation, that is willing to help mentor you as you learn
  2. “Understand and follow defined processes – it is important for a new project manager to find out what the company processes are and follow them
  3. “Serve your team – I am a firm believer that if you serve your team by removing roadblocks and making their job easier, you will be a successful project manager because if your team wins, you win.”