Career Guide: The Future of Program Management Post-COVID

Where I am, where we are, and where we are heading. In short - its all extremely terrifyingly exciting.

I was on Dean Kulaweera's Livestream last week talking about my journey and lessons learned in Technical Program Management. Dean is a fantastic IT Recuriter based in Toronto. His active approach to sharing recruiting knowledge and helping folks find tech jobs is commendable, more than many recruiters I have seen. Dean and I also worked IT Helpdesk when we were in York University together so, we are friends. I recall wonderful days of philosophical and life discussions, I mean what else do you do in break rooms at part-time university gigs. Watch it; we talk program management, philosophy, and how humanities education had the biggest impact on my career in the tech industry.

One of the questions I was asked by a viewer was -

How has your job changed in this COVID world and how you see it changing post-COVID?

That was a really great question.

I am feeling more busy. Serendipitous hallway conversations have been replaced with 5-10mins Slack, Teams, or Zoom calls. The need to document and archive decisions and discussions has never been more important.

As for the future of my career, there is no doubt that AI continues to make inroads in many industries and career tracks. Engineering and Technology related programs are not immune to this. But, less doom and gloom, the future for Program Management in an AI and post-COVID world is bright and exciting.

Here is what I see changing and things employers will look for in the future when hiring Technical Program Managers:

  1. 🙅🏽‍♀️ Myth busted: Program Managers cannot work remotely. COVID has busted this myth across the tech industry in general but it's exciting to see this be proven wrong for non-developer or programming roles as well.

  2. 🌎 Experience working with remote and geographically diverse teams will become critical.

  3. 🔍 More focus on soft skills suchs as communication, relationship management, strategic thinking, conflict resolution, and critical reasoning.

  4. 🔴 Explosion of AI and workflow automations in tools will place more emphasis on data analysis than capture and processing. Brush up on your scripting.

  5. 💻 Generalists with foundational knowledge about the various technologies will be more in demand than Specialists. I recommend focusing less on scrum certs and more on learning about AWS, Edge Computing, Data Analysis, UX Design, general purpose programming concepts, etc.

  6. 🛠️ Systems thinking and analysis skills will become minimum requirements for any program manager.

  7. 🎩 A traditional technical background will not be necessary (Computer Science or IT). I have always maintained this as an unnecessary requirement for Technical Program Managers. Some of my greatest mentors came from non-technical backgrounds.

Foundational Program Management skills will always be the minimum requirements. You won't be successful at any Program Management role unless you know the agile methodologies, GANTT charts, Workbreakdown, etc. The points above is how you can stand out from the crowd. 🙏🏽

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