This would have meant me gathering a growing amount of knowledge in one niche within the massive culture we call ‘business’. But here I am now, working as a project manager in an IT consulting company – a path where I do not expect to become an expert of one specific field, but to gather enough experience to recognize what kind of expertise is needed and when. Quite contrasting career paths, right? This might be the case for most of the people, but both felt natural for me.
Two sides of me
To understand why I love being a project manager after such aspirations in a totally different field, you must understand how my mind works. The personality differences have been often simplified to be represented with the dominant brain hemispheres of an individual – the right side being creative, curious and impulse-driven while the left side is more rational, analytic and goal-driven. Many people can just follow the motives led by their dominant hemisphere and have a fulfilling career. I am not one of them. I want to balance between both sides. I needed to consider if the path I decide to choose will still cater new exciting experiences to me after 20 years.
Thirst for a challenge
The other important characteristic that I had to consider here was my rather high preference for complexity and uncertainty. People with a lower threshold get more easily uncomfortable when facing a complicate situation, but again can carry simpler tasks and calm moments with a better spirit. For the persons like myself it is vice versa. The key here is that if things get too simple for personal taste, the human mind tends to wander and focus into negative and self-conscious thoughts – but again if there is too much to handle, anxiety arises. Somewhere between these two is the bar on how hard the challenge must be for the person to feel satisfied and rewarded by overcoming it. All of this contribute on where the comfort zone of an individual resides – amongst the routines or outside of these.
Obviously, most of the people pursuing a career as a university graduate hope and even expect their work to feel meaningful and challenging – but what these two words mean to different persons variate a lot. For me, these criteria led to the following conclusion: I would not stay interested in consumer behavior in long-term. When observing people in larger groups, they are rather predictable and repeat certain patterns of behavior. Would the work stay novel and complicated enough for me after realizing the basic rules? I was highly skeptical. I did not want to keep on re-inventing the wheel for the rest of my career by conducting focus group studies to determine the shape of a shampoo bottle.
The complexity I love
I found the perfect solution in IT project management. The changing technologies used in different projects, the various business processes involved with IT and the evolution of intelligent solutions make it certain, that for a curious mind there is always more things to learn than what you are capable to process. It takes years to hone up the technical skills to the point you can confidently rely on your own judgment, and twice as much time to offer a creative expert opinion. And all of this while managing the project team, your time and the progress of work – without forgetting the customer. Creative and analytic way of thinking helps to make sense of this whole mess – a challenge that will keep both of my hemispheres happy for years to come. Does IT project management sound a bit overwhelming and complex? Good, since that’s where my comfort zone is – on the ground where not much is certain and the number of loose threads is vast.
Might I have been overanalyzing while thinking all this? Probably, but that is not the worst character flaw for a project manager. It does not hurt to have a plan B and C ready if something happens to the plan A.
And oh, something will most definitely happen. All the time. And I love it.
The blogger, Lauri Huhtamaa, joined Capgemini in spring 2018 with other Young Professionals. Lauri is a future project manager ace in Apps Two unit in Finland.