“As a project manager you take away best practices from every project. They help you to run your next project even better and more efficiently. That’s also what I notice at home, for example at parties: we keep the things that work out well, and apply them too during the next Christmas dinner or a barbecue with friends.” Quick words from Kirsten Koolmees, mother of a son (9) and daughter (7) and project manager at Projective. From delegating and planning to stakeholder management, it turns out that plenty of project management skills can be put to good use in the family home. Learn how to be a successful project manager with kids.
Working in the consultancy sector tests your organisational and time management skills, especially when work is combined with family. “Every year – and sometimes even more often than that – you change location, and the client you work for in-house prefers that you are actually in the workplace. With two small children it really is a puzzle to fit in hobbies, holidays and household chores. Luckily, because so many Projective employees are working parents, they are very understanding.”
“As a project manager I know that I can see the big picture more quickly, and it’s easy for me to decide where priorities lie and what can wait. I learned to take away best practices from previous projects, which helps me to run subsequent projects better and more efficiently. That’s also what I notice at home, for example at parties: we keep the things that work out well, and apply them too during the next Christmas dinner or a barbecue with friends. Delegating is inherent to project management, and I have learned to do it at home too. I used to tend to try and do everything myself, but it’s easier for me to let go these days. By accepting help from people I can spend my time at home doing other things besides chores. Over time, I’ve learned to ask for help when I see that I can’t manage something on my own. And that’s where ‘stakeholder management’ – or whatever you want to call it – comes in: if you build up a sizeable network – the parents of your children’s classmates, people from their sports clubs,… – then there’s always someone to call on if you need them.”
As with projects, timings, teams and scope also change in family life. Together with her husband, she forms a streamlined team. “I work four days a week and my husband often works from home, so he does the school runs. It is so important to be flexible in a relationship. Either of us can shift gears quickly if the other gets stuck in a meeting. We also both accept that work sometimes has to come first, and in that case one or the other of us will take over some tasks.”
It is too early to say whether her enthusiasm for project management has rubbed off on her son and daughter. “For now, ‘project manager’ is a bit too vague for the likes of my future footballer and hairdresser,” laughs Kirsten.