Agile Project Manager: Career profile

Project management is about making sure the job gets done – on time, within budget and to plan. Whether it's large-scale infrastructure construction or the creation of a teeny, but critical piece of software, a good project manager delivers by following sound methodology.

No wonder they are in high demand.

Meet an Agile Project Manager

Project Manager

Chris Muehlebach, 40, is an Agile Project Manager with a major financial services company. A former member of the US Navy, Chris is one Tough Mudder, having finished in the top 5 per cent in the gruelling endurance challenge at Phillip Island in 2012.

Describe the Agile Project Manager's job in a sentence.

Defining, driving and delivering projects to fulfil business strategies.

What education & training do you have?

How has this training helped your Project Management career?

My qualifications have helped me step up and across to cover the space, a bit like a chessboard. The sound grounding in mathematical science means I can do all the modelling.

Because I can think laterally and from a different angle with the project management courses skillset I can identify the critical path of different technologies and what needs to be delivered.

The business and technology masters allows me to work as a team player and work with business and IT people to achieve an outcome.

Working together to create something from nothing and being able to see tangible results in a very short time is great

Chris

How does the Agile methodology differ from the other Project Management models?

In Agile development you really do have to be particularly nimble because work is delivered in instalments or two-week iterations. There might be 100 different things that a business wants and you break them all down, decompose them to find the best way to deliver.

With regular project management you analyse, design, build and then test in stages over the life of the whole project. With Agile you do all that every two weeks with small pieces of work, which lets you tweak and evaluate it at every step.

What skills do you most need as a Project Manager?

In general, you need to be extremely well organised. You have to be able to delve into the fine detail of budget and scope and make sure everything is battened down and documented, but you also need to be able to see the big picture.

With Agile project management you are part of the group, but not in charge of the group, so you really need to be able to work in a team and have really good communication skills. You need to be able to work in very close quarters with people because everyone is in there.

What is the most satisfying aspect of an Agile Project Management role?

The interaction with the business sponsor and working together to create something from nothing and being able to see tangible results in a very short time.

What is the most challenging part of the job?

With Agile it's accepting you are not in control. In traditional or waterfall project management you are a little like a mini-general manager because you own the budget, you own the scope.

What advice would you give an aspiring Project Manager?

It is good to have qualifications that include both business and IT so you have a foot in both camps and can communicate with all parties in languages they can understand. For Agile project management simply getting on a team will teach you so much.

The great thing about Agile projects is that you learn almost every facet of other team members' jobs and you really do become more well-rounded more quickly as a result.

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