My top ten list of job attributes – #05 – Special projects
I’m moving into the top five, after having covered the right fit (10), environment (09), the people (08), strategic (07), and value-added (06). This next one weighs in at #05 and again, is a little bit hard to define. I don’t want to go too narrow nor too broad. I’m also not sure it is right-sized. I want to talk about specific skill sets.
I’ve already covered things like strategic thinking and judgement, as well as some of the value-added areas. In addition to that, I noticed a trend in my early government jobs that trended into later jobs in different forms.
First and foremost, I started off leveraging my computer skills. Things that other people didn’t have much of at the time, and so I got hired for multiple jobs partly as I had skills that other people didn’t have to the same degree. The Ministry of Education wanted me to do their database of legal case summaries. DFAIT wanted me to manage a database of mailouts for promoting their program, plus they liked me doing the slides for presentations before they even knew how important that it would become. Obviously a bunch of the computer jobs wanted those same skills. I’ll pin this thought for a moment.
Second, when I did the conference work at DFAIT, a couple of Ministerial meetings at CIDA, even some of the computer work for the university, I was pretty good at logistics. I organized a G8 Ministerial in 7 weeks and the Minister was extremely happy with everything, so we’ll count that as a performance indicator. Sometimes I worked with others, sometimes I did it myself. The same result each time — everybody was happy, and the events mostly ran without hitches. Let’s pin that thought too.
Third, when I was manager for performance measurement, I also did Strategic Review. Again, a huge file going through, and it was my job to run it all for our branch. Not unlike corporate planning that is done annually.
Do I want to do program reviews, logistics or computers? No. That’s not the point, not really. I’m both good at and enjoy large special projects. I’m good at organizing the various sub-elements, figuring out how to run the various steps, and keep it on track to the end. Gantt charts when I need them, work plans, task lists, sharing info with those who need to know or who I want to co-opt into the process.
It also keeps my work life interesting, with lots of “extra” features on top of my regular duties.
Some people might read that “project manager” and think, “Oh, you want to be a PM”. It sounds logical, except PMs don’t really manage projects. They manage contribution agreements and contracts with people who actually manage projects. That’s too far removed for me. And since the government rarely delivers new initiatives directly, it is probably more areas like internal services and processes where these special projects are likely to show up for me.
Which leaves me with:
#05. Special Projects — utilizing a variety of skills for computers, logistics, admin, processes, or coordination.
As I said, I don’t know that this wording is precise enough. Just as I said I don’t want my whole job to be “general duties as required”, I like the concreteness of individual projects. Preferably one or two large ones, not a large number of small ones. Something that needs doing, I guess, although that gets me into a later element too. Stay tuned.