Analyst Insight: How To Embed Yourself on Client Site
Junior Project Manager David Bullen shares how to get to grips on new projects and what his first client assignment taught him.
For my first client assignment at GRAYCE, I joined a FTSE 100 insurance firm. As a Junior Project Manager on a transformation project that was already in full flow, I had to hit the ground running and add value immediately.
Each project and team that you work with will have different methods and approaches so, as a GRAYCE Analyst, you have to quickly adapt to their way of working. Typically on this project, we had a brief call each morning to run through our plan for the day and then longer sessions twice a week where we went into more detail like reviewing the RAID log. Throughout my time on the project, we also undertook sprints which focused on urgent work to meet specific deadlines. To make sure I became embedded in the team, I had to be attentive to the team’s existing rhythm and style, and adapt accordingly.
Develop Soft Skills
Over the course of my first project, I noticed significant development of my soft skills – in particular my stakeholder management and communication skills. The stakeholders I engaged with on my project ranged from Senior Executives to Data Analysts. My communication style had to change depending on who I was engaging with. I worked hard to make sure I was clear and concise with the Senior Executives when presenting information at a high-level. With Data Analysts, I was able to talk in more detail whilst remaining focused on ensuring our deliverables.
Create a Support Network
Another important soft skill is developing a support network which can help you to tackle more challenging tasks. Collaboration is really important, so on each project it’s vital to build and maintain good working relationships with the team around you to ensure success.
If an opportunity for extra work arises, you should be the first to put your hand up. When one of the senior PMs in my team went on holiday for a week, I offered to cover a large chunk of her work. Although it was a challenging and busy week, I learnt so much by doing it, thrived on the extra responsibility and gained a lot of respect from my team. I think this was a big step towards establishing myself and demonstrating my capability, which led to being trusted with more work. It’s quite cliché, but the more you challenge yourself and work hard, the more you’ll get out of the project!
Ultimately, you should gain as much responsibility as possible in order to challenge yourself and develop. It’s crucial to be diligent, thorough and punctual with your work to establish yourself as a dependable member of the team. With this trust will come more work, more responsibility and further chances to prove yourself.
Over the course of the project, I definitely became more efficient with my work, learnt to manage my time better, and prioritise deliverables in a way that meant I had more capacity to take on additional responsibilities. Working on a project comes with a range of challenges, but it’s extremely rewarding to be part of its progression and contribute towards significant business change.