Budding project managers: what skills do you need to succeed?


Author: David Taylor, Manager of Procurement, Supply Chain & Logistics at Robert Walters Sydney

Working as a project manager can prove a very rewarding career. Not only are your skills often highly transferable both locally and across countries or regions, but they can often be utilised across industry sectors.

Many skilled project managers will develop excellent technical abilities, and their ability to apply creative, analytical problem solving skills no doubt make them extremely valuable to employers. Furthermore, project management often delivers opportunities for continuous professional development, helping you hone your skills on the job.

The key attributes of successful project managers
The ability multi-task and ensure each element of a particular project is appropriately monitored and implemented is vital to the success of a project manager. As the title would suggest, managing and motivating your teams – many of which include individuals from different parts of the business – is also a much sought-after skill, as is the ability to collaborate with stakeholders from across the business. Additionally, project managers are expected to add value to existing processes or methodologies, delivering improvements and helping meet project targets quickly and comprehensively.

Getting your foot in the door
That said, you won’t be appointed as a project manager without developing some experience first. Applying for entry-level or junior jobs in the following areas of procurement and supply chain is a good stepping stone to becoming a successful project manager;

  • Analyst/Planner – these are often data heavy roles, requiring intermediate or advanced Excel skills
  • Officer – can be quite transactional, such as purchasing and customer service roles
  • Administrator/Co-ordinator – often requires engagement across several teams, which is a useful way to network and learn on the job
  • Engineer – this role provides great experience in managing proposals and contracts, which calls for strong communication skills
  • Intern – this is a good way to gain experience and confidence, as well as impress a prospective employer
  • Specialist – these are niche roles that are often related to big spend projects – for skill sets in particularly busy demand, these often generate opportunities for rapid career progression
  • Assistant Manager – these roles are more likely to be found in smaller businesses that require new project managers to work across multiple business units

Do’s and don’ts for first time job seekers on the road to becoming a project manager


  • Be positive, switched on and persistent
  • Keep learning, asking questions, networking and improving
  • Take steps to strengthen your interpersonal and relationship building skills
  • Be patient. A job search can take between one week and six months
  • Be flexible. Think outside the box or change your plans if needed
  • Take Excel and English tests to prove your analytical or language abilities


  • Put photos on your CVs
  • Use funny email addresses: hotstuff@hotmail.com & ultimatelargelad@yahoo.com.au are examples of emails which did not get their owner the job!
  • Take things to heart. The jobs market can be tough, especially if the economy is flat
  • Think you know everything. You will learn most of what you need to know on the job


The specialist procurement, supply chain & logistics team at Robert Walters Australia recruits across all experience levels and industries, from FMCG and manufacturing to banking to the public sector.

Thinking of your next move? Visit http://www.robertwalters.com.au/procurement-supply-chain/jobs.html to view the latest job opportunities.


If you are involved in procurement of HR services, particularly contingent or contract labour, then you cannot afford to miss PASA’S one-day agenda ‘HR Procurement Exchange’. Are you totally confident that your current arrangements with contractors are compliant and if not what can you do about it? 30th July, Melbourne. Click here for more details: http://pasahrprocurement.com/ 

About Author

Procurement and Supply Australasia (PASA) is the leading provider of information and education to procurement and supply professionals throughout Australia and New Zealand. PASA supports the largest community of engaged procurement stakeholders in the region, through its renowned series of events, publications, awards, plus various community and network building activities. PASA is a trading name of BTTB Marketing, for many years recognised as the leading producer of conferences and events for the procurement profession in Australia and New Zealand. Whether producing under the BTTB, CIPSA Conferences or now PASA brands over the last ten years, our events have consistently led the market in terms of both educational and networking opportunities.

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