I’m not asking for your elevator pitch for the discipline, but rather what does it mean to you personally?
Being in the middle of changing roles, the thought process I went through to decide to make a change caused me to revisit a question which I’ve asked myself more than once over the past two decades.
If you see your current work in project management as a stepping stone to a higher role such as a C-level business executive then it might just be a job. While you will develop and use project management competencies to successfully deliver projects, you generally won’t commit much personal time to the profession such as mentoring junior PMs or giving presentations. While you might seek and attain a credential such as the PMP, that is a means to an end, and you are likely to let the credential lapse once you have moved into your next non project management-focused role. There is nothing wrong with considering project management as a means to an end, and becoming a senior leader who has done one or more tours of duty in a PM role is an excellent way of elevating the importance of the discipline.
Perhaps you are playing the long game with the profession. A career in project management might give you the opportunity to take on initiatives of progressively greater complexity and scale or to move from delivering individual projects to managing a portfolio or leading a PMO. Instead of a vertical career path, you might pursue a lateral one by switching industries once you feel you’ve developed sufficient domain expertise in any one. Or you might specialize by focusing on a particular aspect of project management such as recovering troubled projects or by becoming a project risk management specialist. You will most likely attain and maintain one or more credentials and might even contribute to the evolution of the profession if you see it furthering your career.
But the third path and the one which will give you the greatest gratification is if you view project management as a calling. Those who see the profession in this light are easy to identify. They are likely unaware of it, but they smile a lot when they speak about project management. They commit a significant amount of personal time to the profession, not because doing so will help advance their career, but because this re-energizes them and they want others to be as passionate about project management as they are. Being recognized as thought leaders by those they respect is more important to them than a promotion or the latest credential.
So is project management your job, your career or your calling?
“There is no escaping reason; no denying purpose. Because as we both know, without purpose, we would not exist.” – Agent Smith