„Project management is a lifelong learning process that requires a curious, open and versatile personality”
Get to know the project manager profession through the lense of our colleague, Roland Nagy, and find out what skills make a project manager successful!
01. 12. 2022.
The project manager position offers many challenges, opportunities and an outstanding professional development: humility, perseverance and experience might be the key to success. Roland is ambitious to refine his leadership skills day by day, with a sincere and committed belief in lifelong learning. We talked about twelve years of project management experience, successes and challenges.
Tell us about the beginning: how did you become a project manager?
I graduated from college as a computer engineer, than as an economics engineer, and few years later, I got my law degree. I’ve always worked in the IT environment, I feel that I can fulfill myself here. Previously, I worked as a product and software developer, product portfolio manager, and I accompanied investment projects as a product expert, but I was also responsible for the sales of IT solutions for several years. I have been working as a project manager for twelve years now, and I joined eNET Internet Research and Consulting Ltd. in April 2021.
What type of project do you enjoy managing? Why is it exciting for you?
From the beginning, I have been interested in development projects, and I am fascinated by anything that has something in common with digitalization – partly because of my original profession. I believe that projects based on digital and information technology can really contribute to a more sustainable and comfortable life.
What do you consider to be the most outstanding project management skill of yours?
My solution-oriented approach is what has helped me through the years. I believe in constructive value creation, and although I mainly deal with IT solutions, I like to challenge myself in different areas. For this, however, inquiry is essential: a kind of naturally constructive curiosity that helps discover and understand the values that we create during a project.
What skill did you have to improve most compared to the beginning?
I always feel the urge to improve my leadership skills. Conflicts of interest may exist in couple projects, which must be managed and minimized. It is important to have the expertise and experience to identify those factors that can cause confusion later on. Furthermore, project management with an agile approach is what I would like to develop.
There are a number of qualities that are required to become a successful project manager. What are the essential qualities, such as time management?
Time management is crucial in all areas, so I wouldn’t highlight it. Openness, curiosity and critical-thinking are essential in this profession. And interpersonal skills are one of the most important “ammunitions” of any project manager.
The creation of common values and conflict management are also the manager’s tasks in every project. As a project manager it is key to be sufficiently be informed about the needs of the stakeholders, because I must place myself in the world of interests of the project.
The project manager position is a complex assignment in itself, but what would you highlight as the biggest responsibility of this role?
In fact, it is the complexity that bears most of the responsibility. This task requires a versatile personality, because the project’s success, goals and strategic alignment is largely concentrated in the hands of one person. It is also critical to be efficient with your resources and time. For me, there are also responsibilities arising from personal commitment, for example, that the project should have as minimal environmental impact as possible, should be realized with an ecocentric approach, and should create real value – I think this is also part of the challenge.
Are the qualities required for this profession can be learned?
We all have different abilities, these are differences originating from nature or nurture, but there are skills that can be consciously learned and developed. Based on my own experience, I would say that with sufficient dedication you can always improve yourself.
What has the project manager position added to your personality?
I have improved a lot in terms of communication skills. An open attitude is important in all areas, even more in project management, since we work in a team. In some cases, conflicts of interest tend to occur, that requires a common voice and style with all members. I can apply those useful communication methods and presentation techniques I learned during my work in other areas of life.
So conflict management and problem solving tasks are important part of this job. Could you highlight some of the other challenges as well?
Thorough, careful planning and organization with the involvement of the stakeholders can minimize the risks. It is worth planning the basics of the project with critical thinking and constant listening. Understanding the goals, coordinating the ideas, and outlining the tasks are all necessary steps. With careful preparation, the remaining risks can be kept at a manageable level.
Do you think a project manager has to know every step of the ladder? Is practical project experience necessary to learn the basics of the methodology?
Project management is typically an activity that synthesises theoretical and practical knowledge. However, theoretical knowledge by itself is not enough to make someone an expert. It is no coincidence that an internationally recognized project management qualification cannot be obtained without showing several years of experience.
For me, the experience gained in the first half/beginning of my career allowed me to take on the role of project manager later on. Of course, knowledge of theoretical methodologies is essential in addition to practice. It is also important to follow the changes, because further successes can be achieved with the knowledge of new methodologies.
What do you believe in? In the hierarchical relationship system during a project, or in the fact that the project leader is the central cohesive force and all participants are equal? Maybe a combination of these two?
There are situations when a leader of character and a hierarchical structure is more effective, while sometimes democratic project management can be the key to success. Personally, I believe in the right combination: choosing the right leadership style for each circumstance.
I think it is essential to emphasize that the project manager is the one who can primarily be held accountable for the results, but at the same time, the individual project members also have their responsibilities.
There are always several projects running under the hands of a project manager: is there an ideal number, a possible limit? Does it depend on the size of the projects?
It might depend on the size, nature and type of projects, and in many cases, projects can be organized into a programme: it makes a difference whether the project manager is working on a coherent set of projects or on projects that are completely independent of each other – the limit will vary depending on this.
If projects can be arranged into a programme or portfolio, this requires a programme manager or portfolio manager role. If there is overlap between projects, the sets of tasks can be managed more effectively together.
Could you highlight the largest eNET project you have managed? What are the advantages and disadvantages of leading a bigger team?
I would mention a twenty people research and development project: both software developers and researchers are involved in it, so we can talk about a diverse and colorful team. This has many advantages: serious experience and knowledge come together, and managing this is an exciting challenge. My task is to turn this knowledge and experience into a result product during the project.
However, as the team grows in size, it is also somewhat more difficult to achieve consistency. The project manager plays a key role here by being able to reach out to stakeholders so that they can move forward along common values.
The person of the project manager requires a multifaced personality. Who would you recommend this position to?
For those who have the urge to participate adaptively in this changing world – I mean both technologies and methods. It is a continuous learning and development opportunity that requires curiosity and openness. If someone has enough desire and sense of purpose, they can be suitable for such a position.
Is it also an opportunity for continuous personal development for those who choose the project manager proffesion?
That’s right, the skills we develop in our work are useful in many areas of life. This is why I can recommend this profession: those, who decidet o follow this path, can expect to learn, grow and change throughout their career.
Interview by Dorka Vass