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The (Not So Secret) Life of a Project Manager

Michael MacGregor sat at table in AXELOS office meeting room working at laptop with notebook and PRINCE2 Manual in front of him

When asked what his songs were about, Bob Dylan once responded, “Oh, some are about four minutes; some are about five, and some, believe it or not, are about eleven or twelve”.

When people ask me what I do, and what a project manager does, I’m often tempted to give a similarly elusive response. The truth is that project management can be hard to pin down, but the flexibility and variety the job provides are what makes it so appealing and exciting.

How it all started

I first joined Capita in 2015 as part of its Lead the Way graduate scheme, on a project management stream. The idea was to gain practical experience in different roles across the business while working towards qualifications such as PRINCE2 Agile®, MSP® and Lean Six Sigma.

Although I had significant career experience before joining Capita, working for seven years as a restaurant manager in Glasgow and four years as an English language teacher in South America and France, I must admit that I found the transition into the world of project management quite challenging.

My first role was in a highly technical IT environment, developing and implementing employee performance management software across Capita. Coming from a non-technical background, this experience taught me a valuable lesson – ask lots of questions, especially ones that seem stupid! And sometimes, a lack of technical expertise can be a valuable tool in helping to seek clarity and focus.

To broaden my horizons, I then pursued a role in a central sales function, managing projects that used data insight and technology to deliver solutions for public sector organizations such as the NHS, central government and local authorities. Working with a wide variety of internal and external stakeholders, it was exciting to lead projects that had both a commercial and social focus.

Moving over to AXELOS

I started my life at AXELOS in February 2018. For a budding PM, where better to develop than the home of PRINCE2® and MSP?

My first two projects were very different. The first was to deliver new modules of our RESILIA® cyber resilience product, which was being updated to reflect the then-incoming GDPR legislation. The second was to plan a series of global trainer readiness events to support the launch of our new ITIL® 4 Foundation product.

Working in any new environment always presents challenges as we need to learn new approaches to work, new processes and get to know new people. However, providing an open and supportive work environment enables effective collaboration and is a key factor in helping people to grow, and this is something I have found at AXELOS.

From my initial projects, I now project manage the development of our ITIL portfolio, working with a wide range of internal teams and external SME groups to deliver new and exciting products that reflect and drive how technology is used in the world around us.

This is what motivates me on a daily basis – being the glue that joins teams together while providing a platform and structure for collaboration to enable us to deliver great products for our customers.

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