Interview with Patricia L., project manager in public works

After 10 years in the field as a technician, Patricia L. has been working as a project manager since July 2008. Negotiating, supervising and problem solving; her job requires responsiveness, adaptability and a capacity for lifelong learning.

WHAT ARE YOUR DUTIES?

I negotiate contracts and then provide follow-up. During the negotiation phase, I aim to convince my clients and partners to adopt our standards. The objective is to reach an agreement even if our ways of doing things differ.

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF YOUR JOB?

It’s an ongoing challenge. In fact, nothing ever happens as expected, so I’m faced with new problems every day. For example, a hard rainfall on a section of highway could affect the materials to be used. It’s often difficult to plan ahead, so to handle the problem, you need to try out a few things and find a solution quickly. As I work on many contracts at once, I’m continually in demand. Stress and burnout are a real risk, but I’ve learned to laugh a lot to distance myself from situations.

WHAT SKILLS ARE ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL FOR YOUR JOB?

You have to have great organizational skills and the ability to multitask to handle all your files properly. Without an aptitude for supervision, project managers will find it difficult to coordinate their people, because they must be able to influence employees as well as clients, who need to share the same viewpoint. Recently, one of my clients had very specific ideas on how to carry out the work for a covered facility, but they didn’t meet our standards. I had to do a lot of talking to convince them to come around!

DO YOU ALWAYS WORK WITH THE SAME PEOPLE?

My clients and partners are always changing. Depending on the size of the project, my work group varies between 2 and 15 people.

HOW WOULD YOU RECOMMEND GETTING HIRED FOR YOUR TYPE OF POSITION?

I would recommend starting out in the field, where the demand is greater. When I look at my career path, I realize that I learned a lot in my first 10 years on the job. This experience has made me a better project manager, since I already know what has to be done. I had never really thought about applying for this type of job, but when it was offered to me, I leapt at the opportunity!

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