I’ve just started a new job as an Engagement Manager. Basically it’s a project manager role – it’s my job to manage the schedule, budget and scope of projects and manage resources like technical consultants.
It’s a big shift from my last job. I used to be one of the technical consultants that I now help schedule work for. My background at Zendesk is as a customer advocate and then a consultant. I have a large amount of knowledge on the product and felt confident in that role of giving people advice on how to best utilise it.
But now Zendesk expertise is not the most important skill. It’s certainly part of it, but now I have to lean on skills I haven’t really relied on before. I need to be good at communication, leadership, risk management and managing resources. These skills were something I used in my last role but if I ever got out of my depth, I just pointed at the engagement manager and let them handle it.
Now there’s going to be resources pointing at me when things go wrong! It’s my job to communicate to stakeholders and keep them happy.
Don’t get me wrong – this job is one that I have wanted for a while. I’m very lucky to have been promoted into this role. I like being a project manager! But there was a part of me when I started that wondered if I was enough.
I was worried that people would look at me and think that I’m just a young woman with no idea what I’m doing. And to be honest, this fear isn’t completely unfounded. When I first looked into project management as a career move, someone told me that I probably wouldn’t be taken seriously – some older stakeholders would think I was just a little girl with no backbone.
To anyone who doubts me, I say this. People might think that I’m a young person with no idea when I first walk into the room – but by the time I walk out I’ll have impressed them and earned their respect. I really hope that in this era, my gender doesn’t have to play a part in whether you think I can do a good job. And to be honest, neither should my age.
This was supposed to be a post about how to do things that scare you, and it’s kind of gone off track! The reason I decided to write this is because my partner made a really apt comment this week. He said that whenever you’re afraid to start something new or do something different for the first time, you just need to think about the last thing that scared you and how you now handle those things with ease.
I used to be really nervous going into running a workshop with a customer, but now it’s something I do without really thinking about it. So I guess all you have to do when you start something new is remember that it will get easier and it will become second nature. All you have to do is start.
I’ll keep you updated on how I go with my new job. I’m excited to grow both personally and professionally and work on those things that might scare me now, but will eventually be just a regular day’s work.