Hi there! Many of my friends and colleagues ask him this common question – what life do you have after being a project manager? Many project managers, especially those with 10 or more years of experience – tend to suffer burn out.
The sheer number of hours they put in – managing stakeholders, resolving issues and ensuring everything goes according to plan – definitely takes its toll.
So, given this – what options are there for a PM after he or she is sick of running projects? Well, the options are many. The thing is, a PM has many skill sets which are transferrable across industries and that opens a lot of career paths for him or her. Let’s look at them now.
One of the more common paths is for a PM to become a teacher. Here in Singapore, many mid-career PMs switch tracks and sign up to teach students at the junior college or secondary levels.
A project manager can become a teacher
Some of them who have Masters or Phd degrees also go up teach at universities or polytechnics.
What topics can a PM teach? Well, plenty. Project managers, especially those in the IT industry are either engineers or computer scientists and them sign up to teach math or science at schools.
For myself, I have an engineering degree and a quantitative finance degree, as well as IT and banking industry expertise. There are options for me to go to university to teach IT and banking courses.
Those with a lot of PM experience can also teach project management courses – topics such as stakeholder management, communication, prevention of scope creep and project methodology are especially popular.
Many project mangers also move on to sales roles. PMs who work in consulting firms or software companies may be used to years of delivering projects. They may find it refreshing to go into sales roles and just sign contracts – the pay in sales tends to be better too (although it’s more stressful with all the sales quotas).
Sales is not for everyone. For me, I’ve stuck with being a project manager because I like delivery. The sales lifestyle is not for everyone – wining and dining, playing golf all day may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
3. COO or CIO
Another option for project managers, especially those who have a decade or more of expertise in a particularly industry like banking, can look to join banks as COO or CIO. It pays well and you can still get to run and oversee projects with long term, strategic benefits to the organization.
A senior PM can become a COO or CIO
However, not everyone can make it to C-level and for those who do make it, they usually have to deal with a lot of office politics at the top.
4. Other End-User Roles
Some friends of mine move from PM roles into end-user roles like credit, trading and operations. For example, a friend of mine who ran a successful core banking project moved on to take up a Business Management role in the bank.
If one has run projects for the bank before, he or she will know the organization very well. It then makes I easier for him or her to convince stakeholders and gain their credibility in future work.
5. Management Consultant
Many PMs I know move on to take MBAs. A MBA is a good degree to take if you’re interested in taking up management roles in companies. With a MBA, you can take up a role in management consulting companies like McKinsey, Bain and Company, the Boston Consulting Group, etc.
Alternatively, you can take up management roles in various industries like banking, insurance, consumer goods, telecommunications, etc.
Wrapping Up …
As you can see, a PM really has many career options available to him or her. Life after being a project manager can be fun and interesting, so keep an open mind and explore!
One thing I didn’t mention is that a project manager usually has a good mix of skills that are highly transferable across industries, e.g. communication, presentation and change management skills – all of which are in high demand in many companies. I’ve discussed some of these PM skills over here.
That’s all I have for now. Until next time, continue to explore your career options!