Read on for a day in the life of an IT project manager –
Job Title: IT Project Manager
Industry: Banking & Financial Services
Location: Chicago, IL
Salary/Benefits: $90,000 annually. Options to enroll in health, dental, vision, and life insurance as well as a 401(k) but no matching.
Employer Type: Corporate finance
Employer Size: 100,000+ employees
How Long in Current Position: 1 year. This is my 7th year in project management.
Highest Level of Education: Bachelor’s degree and 3 professional designations/certifications
Path to This Job: My first non-food service or retail job was as an administrative assistant at a corporation. After six years I got promoted into low-level project management, and have worked in corporations ever since.
A typical Tuesday at work:
7:00am: I’ve been starting my work days at 7 for at least 10 years. My first hour is spent pouring coffee from my thermos and sipping it while going through today’s diary and emails that have popped up while the UK has been online. I start with 105 unread messages, including notices of wiki edits, new Jira tickets [Ed. note: a project tracking software], and a number of questions and requests. I’m going to have a lot of meetings today, which is typical of a Tuesday.
8:00am: First meeting. I tear into my banana and dial in, and we run a little late as my New York team member is delayed getting in. Meantime London and I chitchat about the weather. “Is Chicago really windy?” (Yes, but that’s not the reason behind the nickname). When New York arrives, we start our stand-up meeting, a key practice in agile projects where we share successes, next day plans, and roadblocks. As the scrum master it’s my job to escalate the bad things, celebrate the good things, and keep the team on task. Fortunately, nothing bad today. I slash through half my email of old tickets and wiki notices.
8:30am: After the meeting I call New York about our specific role’s work today. I have meetings to schedule with program teams that won’t receive any funding next year and talk about how they’re going to wrap up their work. Then I get them scheduled.
9:00am: A bit of busywork, but greatly useful and welcome: I update a spreadsheet with all tollgate dates in the next six months. These are crunch times when documents, designs, test cases, sign-offs, etc. get reviewed by Quality Assurance and tell the team they are free to proceed. Getting these projects ready for tollgates is like 50% of what I’ve been spending my time on this quarter. I eat half my Clif bar.
11:00am: Before the queue for the microwave begins, I warm up my frozen pesto and pasta entree, fill my water bottle (and then empty it by half before refilling), and take my lunch to my desk while preparing for the afternoon of back-to-back meetings. After the pasta I finish off the second half of a large box of mango and a handful of cheese crackers as well as the other half of my Clif bar. That seems like a lot but I’m going to need it in a bit.
12:00pm: The last of my UK team checks in with me before signing off for the night. No roadblocks. I turn right around and dial into a meeting 3 minutes late to argue (albeit politely) with a project team that doesn’t see why they need to redo any paperwork now that they’ve been extended into 2019. My QA perspective says that something needs to document that their 2019 work will literally not break the bank, they push back. Time to escalate to my management.
12:30pm: Knock out replies to more emails before my next meeting. This one is about upcoming changes—big ones—to a bank-wide policy. I drink more water to stop from being snarky; this is the eighth meeting about this, we’re done, any more time in a meeting is a waste of our time. The call ends late, again, and I dash off to make a fast cup of coffee from the break room before I get into my next call.
1:00pm: This is an info session to a very large and impatient audience. I dial in, go on mute, and sit back with my notebook and pen, taking notes. I’ve sat through this presentation twice now and will sit in it again, because it will be my job to understand this new stuff thoroughly and be able to defend it. Blerg.
2:00pm: The Q&A makes the session run over. I leave that one early to make this one on time: a regular meeting with a smaller project team that needs extra hand-holding to get their work up to standard. Luckily my lead developer knows this well and runs the meeting. I’m mostly there to “keep him honest,” he says, and instill about 1% fear and incentivize the team to show up and respond. I add a thing or two to his findings that he overlooked, but we have a good relationship, he is not offended when I do this, and I’m careful to do so anyway.
2:30pm: Done with meetings, and I mean to sit down and get some work done. Fortunately, my other project team’s systems architect has new design diagrams for me to review before I hold a meeting with the project stakeholders for their sign-off. I have a few questions that I send to him in an email.
3:30pm: I’m just going to turn off my brain now. I tend to not schedule anything for the last half hour of the day, so I can set up my next day in terms of blocking off time to work and let people IM me at the “last minute” before I leave, and sure enough, someone does with a policy question. Fortunately, it’s an easy answer, and I log off of IM shortly after so I can scan my email one more time to see if there’s anything I missed. One or two things get sent to Hyderabad to research why a software is throwing an error. I lock up and write myself a note to bring my laptop charger for my second workstation into the office so I can get it updated.
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