PMO Manager Career Path

I’ve been working as a PMO Manager for a number of years now and I want to progress further into portfolio level PMOs, getting involved in strategy execution and generally working at a more senior level. What do I need to consider to make this transition?

As well you know, there are many different types of PMO in existence so the transition you make will largely depend on this – the culture, context, and the type of services provided by your PMO today. It will also depend on the type of management level skills you have been utilising in your existing PMO and your experience prior to that. Finally, it also depends on you as an individual – your own ambition, drive, personality and interpersonal skills. If we take a look at those we can start to see how they will impact your transition plans.

It’s important that your current PMO experience – especially in functions and services that are relatable to portfolio management such as investment appraisals, prioritisation, enterprise resource management and so on are already part of your knowledge base.

One of the most popular courses to look at for portfolio management level knowledge is the Management of Portfolios® – also known as MoP®. You should be looking at both Foundation and Practitioner levels.

A role like this also requires much more business knowledge and acumen than one which is focused on “doing the projects right” kind of PMO. Developing your wider business knowledge; understanding more about the organisation in which you are working and the bigger picture strategic objectives is key. Your transition plan could actually mean stepping away from PMO entirely for a few years to gain wider business management and more strategy related experience. Certainly something to consider if an opportunity exists. Also if you don’t have direct project delivery experience that too might be a route for a few years. Perhaps a secondment to another business operations department might be an option too.

It also makes sense that you bring your own PMO knowledge up to date too if you haven’t already. You have two options.

The Portfolio, Programme and Project Offices – also known as P3O® – is both a popular course and one which focuses on the bigger picture of PMOs and how to set them up.

The second option is the Essentials for PMO Managers. It’s from the House of PMO and certified by APMG International. This one focuses more on the practicalties of the role and covers the core competences required to carry out the role of PMO Manager.

From a more personal side– strong leadership, gravitas, firm but fair, holding their own, managing the politics, the buck stops with me. All terms that are associated with great Portfolio PMO leaders. It might also be helpful to focus more on your own managerial style now – those behavioural and softer skills we tend to neglect when it comes to personal development.

When it comes to taking a step up the career ladder like this, it tends to be less about technical project management knowledge and more about great leadership – inspiring others to perform well.

Hope that gives you some pointers to think about as you think about the next step in your PMO career.

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The P3O® and MoP® courses on this page are offered by PMO Learning. P3O® and MoP® are [registered] trade marks of AXELOS Limited. All rights reserved. P3O® and MoP® are registered trade marks of AXELOS Limited, used under permission of AXELOS Limited.

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