Project managers get the job done

Most project managers are “accidental project managers”—people who fall into the role because they have an aptitude for getting things done. But without some sense of the process, even the best “freelancers” will find themselves responding to crises rather than planning in advance.

Tasked with organizing a team that will tackle an ad campaign, develop a new product, or create a revolutionary computer program, project managers coordinate time, budget resources, and delegate tasks across the group. Project management was first used in the aerospace, construction, and defense industries in the 1960s, but today it is common throughout a variety of businesses, particularly in biotech and IT.


Project management training establishes a standard and offers procedures for getting the job done, says Vijay Kanabar, director of Boston University’s project management program, where professionals can earn a graduate certificate or master’s degree in the field.

The gold standard for project managers in the US is earning a project management certification issued by the Project Management Institute (PMI), a nonprofit organization for project management. In fact, federal projects now mandate that all project managers should have a PMI designation. Many programs, like those at Boston University and UMass Lowell, offer professional development training courses that are required as part of earning the certification.

UMass Lowell’s project management certificate is a six-course program with classes on planning and scheduling, resources and budgeting, risk management, leadership, and negotiation.

Rosa deSousa is a recent graduate of the UMass program; she is a project coordinator for a pharmaceutical company in Cambridge where she has been managing marketing projects for the last seven years. “I wanted to validate my skill set and become more efficient,” says deSousa. In her certificate program, deSousa learned scheduling tips that helped her improve brand launches and create content. “Being able to effectively manage multiple projects is critical in today’s business environment,” she says.


Project management training has one additional benefit, adds deSousa: She is more organized at home as well. “Everything you do every single day is a project, from getting ready in the morning to managing traffic and other unknown variables. Now that I know the project management principles, I apply them all the time.”

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