Moving from Business Analyst to Project Manager (Part 1)

I’m currently a Business Analyst and would like to become a Project Manager. Can professional branding help me get there?

Thank you for your questions and yes, professional branding can definitely help you move toward a Project Manager role. Professional branding helps you move ahead with your career for many reasons, including the following:

1. Assess your current professional brand This first step of analyzing your career’s current status may sound simple, but it causes you to not only take stock of your personal skills, experience, and knowledge, but it also requires you to gain an understanding of what other people think of you. For example, if your boss, for whatever reason, has made the decision that you will not ever make good Project Manager, then no matter what you do or how hard to try, you may never be given the chance to move into a project management role. On the other hand, if your boss thinks you would make a great Project Manager, then simply making it known that you would like to move in that direction may be all you need to do.

The reason that this step is so valuable to your career is because it forces you to step outside yourself and your personal perceptions to learn what others think about you. This is important to you for two reasons. First, other people may see strengths and/or weakness in you that you do not see yourself. Second, when it comes to being promoted, perception is reality. Remember, you can’t move yourself to a project management job. This must be done by your manager and/or other people above your level organizationally. Knowing how they feel about you can help you realistically assess your option and if appropriate, help you define your plan of attack to make the move from Business Analyst to Project Manager a reality.

2. Strategically think about your career Building your brand requires you to first sit down and strategically think about your career in the long term. Namely, ask yourself the question “What do I ultimately want to do professionally?” Take note that there is no generic right or wrong answers to this question. What makes your answer right is if you believe it in your heart. What makes it wrong is if it’s based on what others want you to do, rather than based on what you want to do.

The reason that this step is so valuable to you professionally is that combined with Step #1, it becomes the basis for your roadmap. Think of your career as if it were Google Maps, for it to work correctly, it has to know where you are now and where you want to go.

In your case, becoming a Project Manager may be your ultimate professional goal. Alternatively, you may see it as a stepping stone to other professional aspirations. In either case, having this knowledge in hand will help you define the best way for you to get there. For example, if being a Project Manager is your ultimate professional goal, it may be very worthwhile for you to get a PMP (Project Management Professional) certification. If you see yourself spending a short amount of time managing project s on your way toward a longer term goal, then spending the time and money to become a PMP may not be in your best interest.

3. Defining the steps needed to move you toward your ultimate professional goal Now with a clear understanding of your . . . • personal skills, experience, and knowledge, • how you are perceived by your boss and others, • and where you would ultimately like to go professionally . . . . . . the next step is to define the tactical steps needed to gain the experience, credentials and professional reputation needed to make your goal of becoming a Project Manager a reality.

This next step will be discussed at length in next week’s blog. In the meantime, begin working on steps #1 and #2. Depending on your current workplace situation and your current understanding of your long-term professional goals, these tasks may already be done or may require much work and personal circumspection.

If you have any questions about your career in IT, please email me at eric@ManagerMechanics.com or find me on Twitter at @EricPBloom.

Until next time, work hard, work smart, and continue to grow.

Read more of Eric Bloom's Your IT Career blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Eric on Twitter at @EricPBloom. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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