A day in the life of a Project Manager

Steph Lancake is a Project Manager at Capita TI. Prior to Capita, Steph studied languages at university and pursued a career in education for a number of years.

Describe what you do on a day-to-day basis?

Part of what I love about my job is that every day is different. My day always starts with a cup of coffee though before I check in on my emails to see what’s been going on with clients and projects overnight. I keep a tracker of my projects and make a list at the end of each day so that I can jump straight into what needs doing in the morning. The days are usually busy so it’s good to have a system to keep on top of everything; you never know when an ad-hoc task will be given to you while you’re working on the ’normal‘ day to day stuff.

How did you become a Project Manager and what attracted you to this job?

My degree was Spanish and German and I jumped straight into teaching from university. When I left teaching, I went into a Project Management role to do with education.

Project Management plays to my strengths, but I really missed my languages and knew that I wanted a job where they were still relevant.

My current job is perfect for me!

What are the most challenging aspects of your job?

Sometimes things get so busy that you have a moment of panic, thinking that you just can’t get everything done! Multi-tasking is a must in this job as you tend to have numerous projects on the go at once. The average project requires liaising with at least three stakeholders, from client to linguist, and you might have ten projects on the go at one time. It’s important to know what you’re sending to which stakeholder for each project so that things don’t get mixed up!

What do you feel is the key skill/attribute needed to succeed in your role?

Other than multi-tasking, which goes hand in hand with organisation skills, it’s important to have good people skills. You’ll be communicating with people for a large part of the working day and you need to keep a healthy relationship with them.

Other than that, you need a good dose of common sense; this isn’t a standard Project Management job.

As it deals largely with people – as opposed to software – there is a lot of flexibility and you have to be adaptable to change. Sometimes things happen that don’t follow a framework and you have to think outside the box.

What are your favourite aspects of your job?

All of this is what I love about the job. I was reluctant to get a desk job after teaching because I didn’t want to feel trapped, but the fact that every day is different and unpredictable makes it exciting and interesting to come to work. I’ve learnt a lot in this role but still feel challenged, which is a healthy place to be in your career.

What would your advice for newcomers be?

Make the most of your first couple of weeks here! It can be a bit overwhelming to get a huge amount of information thrown at you as soon as you walk in, but make notes and use them as you go.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and always learn from your mistakes.

We’re a friendly bunch and there’s a lot of knowledge to be found if you ask the right people!

What would you do if you weren’t a Project Manager?

This is a tough one. I always wanted to be a journalist so I’d probably venture down that route. I really enjoy writing and keeping up to date with current affairs. It would definitely be something to do with words – I try to avoid numbers as much as possible!

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Steph is a Project Manager mostly in the Legal and Financial vertical at Capita TI, having been a Spanish and German teacher at Secondary and Sixth Form level for 5 years. She is also the Service Delivery and File Engineering representative for the Employee Engagement Group. When not at work, she’s usually doing sport.

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