Seeing the whole picture from the beginning – being able to try out and prove yourself as a young employee

 

Elektra Burazi and Jens Zerwes talk about their work and their ambitions as junior project managers

To start with a stereotype: must a good project manager have plenty of grey hair and years to his name, and possibly also be a man?

 EB: I am sure I will be able to fulfil the first criterion at some point, but the second certainly not. But this is also not necessary. And yes, as a young woman, you are certainly challenged by the older colleagues on the project. You have to be willing to meet this challenge on a human and content level: through clear, open behaviour and good personal manners, and you also have to be knowledgeable and reliable as a project manager. I trust my intuition here and I also rely on people who support me. Our senior managers are always at our side to help us.

JZ: You need to have a certain amount of courage as a young manager, but well calculated, of course. I spent two and a half years as a working student in project management, including on a major rail project. And in my Bachelor thesis I analysed evaluation methods for project management performance. All of this gives me a solid functional foundation for the job.

 

in it straight from the beginning – learning to stand on your own feet

 

Job shadowing, assisting more experienced colleagues and researching the bases for decisions allow you to become more and more independent with time.

EB: As a junior, too, you are very deeply involved in the details of the building process. This leads to a natural evolution of responsibilities and with time, experts consider you as their contact person.

Learning by doing and job shadowing are certainly good methods to get into one’s new job. But further training is also very important. How does this work for you?

EB: The managing directors and the local management take good care of us. We regularly visit seminars to further our qualifications and skills. Employees can choose the seminars according to their own requirements, e.g. communication training, methods to deal with stress or new procurement laws.

JZ: Yes, we just had a seminar on the latter in our office in Cologne and the colleagues in Frankfurt could join via Skype. This allows all of us easy access to the most important information.

EB: That’s right, we are very well connected within and between the different local offices. I can easily find a contact person for any issue
I may encounter in my working day.

Twice a year we have a full-day team meeting to exchange with other colleagues. And this year we started with a junior meeting involving all locations. This is very informative and motivating for me; the younger generation has the opportunity to talk about their job profiles, career paths and successful management approaches in a relaxed atmosphere. After all, most of us did not study project management, but engineering or architecture.

A very good cue. How, as an architect, did you come up with the idea to become project manager?

EB: In a pure planning function, I sat at the computer all the time and worked myself through concept after concept and detail after detail. I wanted to escape this narrow view and support a project from beginning to end. And I also wanted to work with other people a lot more.

JZ: My motivation was also to experience the bigger picture and to be able to manage it. I want to get a sovereign standing as an expert and as a person and I would like to develop new solutions for project management over time. Basically, I want to breathe new life into my Bachelor thesis with the experiences I make in the practice.

 

 

asking the right
questions, developing
your own language

 

This brings us to your plans and personal goals. What are you hoping to achieve in the BMP office?

JZ: I am still fairly new here. So for me, it is all about expanding my horizon through working on construction projects and, especially, experience, experience, experience…

EB: I also want to gain as much experience as possible to turn this into something new. In particular, I am interested in new ways of working together, as innovation requires the creative power of a well-functioning team. I think it is very exciting to keep rethinking ideas to ask the right questions in a project. At BMP, we are given a lot of freedom to develop our own style, the trust in our self-reliance and sense of responsibility reaches very far.