TODAY’S FOCUS: MARKET RESEARCH AND STRATEGY CONSULTING
When you think about Project Managers, what is the first thing that comes to mind? In many cases we think the people who manage information technology, Agile or large infrastructure projects. Some people will immediately think of the phases of a project as described in the PMI PMBOK.
One of the most common questions about project management we hear from candidates is “why do employers require specific industry experience when recruiting for their PM roles? – Aren’t PM skills transferable to all industry verticals?”
The answer to that question can be simple and complex at the same time. In short, while Project Management competencies are common across industry verticals. In the case of Market Research and Strategy consulting roles, client facing Project Managers lead their projects from initiation to completion and exercise their leadership skills (soft skills) to coach the analyst team, negotiate with vendors, and manage stakeholder expectations on quality of deliverables and schedule. Sounds like a PM to me, but let’s look deeper.
In Market Research firms (agencies) for example, most client facing Project Managers have working experience in a Market Research Analyst or Associate role – 1 to 3 years – so that they have the working knowledge to coach the Analysts team and perform research tasks on the project as needed. These PMs are commonly required to ensure the accuracy and quality of the analyst’s deliverables and can be called upon to present and defend their findings to the client. Analysts responsible for developing syndicated research reports routinely develop the analysis and manage their own projects – without the title of Project Manager.
In the case of top strategy consulting firms, PMs may be required to have a specific background and education that relates to the firm’s area of specialization. For example, firms that specialize economic forecasting and delivering strategic insights into the global economy prefer candidates with degrees in Economics and/or International Business from top business schools. To be successful, it is important that the PM to be able to perform quantitative analysis using large data sets and have a strong understanding of business and global market view. These PMs must also have the presence and confidence to perform as a management consultant and be seen as an industry adviser.
In both cases, firms will commonly develop Project Managers in-house and promote from within. Though with the recent popularity of the PM position in market they are starting to look outside of their own ranks and engage with agencies to fill these roles. It is common to see these roles advertised as Market Research Project Manager or Engagement Manager. This article discussed two examples in the Boston market and is meant to provide context only to the ongoing debate about industry specialization requirements. We suspect that this may change over time as more business schools are offering advanced coursework in Project Management.
John Todd is a Partner at Downtown Recruiting Inc. in Boston, MA and former PMI MassBay Board member/volunteer. Check out our website at downtownrecruiting.com for current job openings and a list of local resources to support your Project Management Professional Development. Please feel free to email comments or suggestions to John at firstname.lastname@example.org.