Can New Graduates Make Effective Project Managers?


As  a company that focuses on project assurance, Pelicam only recruit seasoned project managers - providing pragmatic, expert analysis and direction, using an 'invitation only' method to guarantee quality.   But we were recently asked the question

 “What would you look for when recruiting a 20-something project manager?”

We felt we were well positioned to provide views about what companies should look for and the type of skill sets required by individuals themselves even if they may be comparatively young.

Three project management essentials.  When we assess project management competency and potential we focus on three key attributes: 

(1) A balanced understanding of the need to plan ahead and the various dimensions involved; 

(2) An inner confidence that enables team spirit and personal behaviours that allow interaction at all levels in an organisation; 

(3) The innate intelligence to work at a detailed level to recognise complexity and ensure precision and accuracy.  

Nature / Nurture.  Why do we focus on these three essentials? Because a project manager has to recognise the complexity within the tasks ahead, lead an often disparate team to a shared goal, and ensure SMART solutions are delivered to meet specific needs.  Much of the project management discipline can be trained, but there are some critical attributes that are core to the individual that to a larger extent are unchangeable – they either exist, or they don’t.

Duke of Edinburgh Awards, Prince2?  Recent graduates will not easily demonstrate these attributes.  Certification gives an indication that the vocabulary of projects is understood and a demonstrable motivation to participate and progress.

Pre-graduation activities – such as around the world trips, hospice development in Rwanda and so on – are not necessarily a clear indication of compatibility or project management potential.  Some project management 'instincts' are demonstrable and can be evidenced but unless we are prepared to invest in a serious career development programme (all the more unlikely in today’s economic environment perhaps), significant experience in a commercial work environment has to be a pre-requisite.

Having said all that, we are always interested in linking up with the brightest and best project talent in the UK.  If you feel that describes you or a colleague, please let us know.


2010, PeopleKatie MayerComment