Jidaw Systems

DBA to Project Management

Good day Jidaw,

I read you article Career Planning: It's all about Attitude (.jidaw.com/careerplan.html). It was truly inspiring and I thought let me get in touch with you. I'm in South Africa.

I am an Oracle Database Administrator planning to go into IT Management. I have started studying towards my Project+ Certification.

I intend to join a big company where I'm going to grow from a DBA to a Project Manager, IT Manager and going forward. 

What sort of steps do you think I should follow from here till I reach my goal, which is to become an IT Manager? And in the mean time how can I gradually get the sort of exposure to project management?

Do you think CompTIA's Project+ certification will give me an entry-level qualification?
What are the chances of a company hiring somebody to train into a
Project Management position?

Maybe the South African IT Industry is very different from yours but I know there are some common facts. Whatever advice you have, I'd really appreciate it.

Have a good day and thank you for reading my mail.




Dear JZ,

Thanks for your compliments on my article. I commend you on your desire to forge ahead in a purposeful manner.

Since you are already a DBA, and you're aiming for IT management, it makes sense to start building your essential business skills, which is the core focus of project management.
Already globally, many organizations are realizing that project management skills are key requirements in the workplace (http://www.jidaw.com/certarticles/future2005.html). Project management is the recognized career field of the future, and Fortune Magazine has identified it as "Career Number 1." And a project manager can focus his or her career in many different areas. 


Project management is about employing communication, organization, teamwork and problem-solving skills. For a start you must have an interest in developing yourself in these areas. Are you interested in these areas? It can be tough, but it can also be very fulfilling. Are you prepared to make the effort?
For someone like you with IT management objectives, it is interesting to note these skills required for project management are also required for middle level and top management positions in IT. It is clear therefore that investing in developing project management skills can be applied to future management opportunities. With your background such skills will certainly help move your career forward.

Training and Certification

I think your move to get the CompTIA's Project+ certification (http://www.jidaw.com/certarticles/comptiaproject.html) is a move in the right direction. With your DBA background, it should give you an entry in project management sphere. Note however that certification has its limits. Project management is more than just passing an exam. 

An alternative or complementary move is to invest in hands-on project management training (http://www.jidaw.com/project/index.html) where you get to work on a real world project during your training, not just studying to pass an exam. Even if you pass the exam, what is the use if you can't apply what you have learnt? Remember, it's all about value. Education must have value. Hands-on training makes sense, especially when the course facilitator has many years of experience managing projects, and you can benefit from that experience.

The Fundamentals

But don't depend solely on formal training and certification to build the skills you need. Look beyond the classroom and the exam prep routine for opportunities to develop these skills (communication, organization, teamwork and problem-solving skills) in real life. Even if the opportunities you get are just in small aspects of the projects, it still is worth it. Don't wait till you're assigned a project. Start with what you have - now. Start with small projects and grow from that. It always makes sense to crawl first before you walk. Develop these skills with a small project or group before you move to larger projects. 

The best way to do this is to focus on the fundamentals: Project management is about opportunity and respect, but it isn't just about titles, certifications or the pay packet, it's about the ability to communicate well and to solve problems. Develop the right mentality and there's no stopping you.

Learn from your experience. Use what you have learnt from the experience of managing small projects to gradually move to the role of managing an entire project. If you're doing it right, your team and other skills should grow, as your projects get bigger.
And most importantly, it helps to be prepared to overcome the major challenge associated with projects - project completion. Many people know how to start; very few know how to complete well - to specifications, within budget and on time. This is why there is such a huge demand for individuals with effective project management skills - individuals that make a difference.

So don't wait until you have the opportunity to work on projects. Look for these opportunities wherever you find yourself. I'm sure in your present DBA environment, there are some small projects you can start with.


Here are answers to other questions:

>> Do you think the certification will give me an entry-level qualification?
Your choice of certification the Project+ can give you an entry-level qualification. But realize that while certification confers advantage, it guarantees nothing. Get the most out of your certification by working on your professional and soft skills, as well as your personal networking.
Later when you have gathered sufficient and extensive experience in project management you may consider the advanced level Project Management Professional (PMP) certification (http://www.jidaw.com/certarticles/projectcerts.html).

>> What are the chances of a company hiring somebody to train into a Project Management position?
Over here the chances are 50:50. Remember that it's not just about your interests. What are you bringing to the table? It all depends on the nature of the company, the needs of the company and your background. It's more or less a game of chance. First of all what value does the company see in you? Most companies that are ready to invest in Project management will only invest in experienced individuals not rookies. 

For example since you already have DBA experience, the right opportunity might be one in which the organizations wants someone who can progress to managing Database and IT projects. But in matters of this nature,  I won't advise that you depend 100% on this. While this is a good opportunity if it comes along, you shouldn't place too much reliance on this as a way to grow your career. Rather than waiting for someone to create opportunity for you, it is always best to create your own opportunities. Develop yourself, build on what you have and let your value proposition stand out boldly.

I hope you have found this useful and I wish you all the best in your IT career.

Jide Awe

Jide Awe is the Founder of Jidaw.com

For more coverage and information related to this topic, head to the IT Career Resource Center: http://www.jidaw.com/itcareer.html

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