Author: Ganesh Gopalan, PMP
A seasoned Project Manager is one who by now would have hit middle age, going through mid-life crisis - or has seen one, and or contemplating his/her plans for retirement and thinking about his/her future financial security. In my several meetings and Aperos with Project Managers, the constant conversation the last 6 to 8 months revolves around how Artificial Intelligence is going to rule the world or ruin the life of a Project Manager :) Most of these managers have handled Risk Management of the projects, but the real Risk Management is going to be NOW, on how they are going to manage themselves in the fast-racing world of AI, Generative AI, Bard, ChatGPT and the like!
Though not sounding too pessimistic, the real challenge now is the way forward on how to cope with the emerging technologies and ensure a steady career ahead. I recently met a few veterans in the field of AI and Project Management, and would like to enumerate on some of the best pointers they conveyed:
Nothing to panic - AI is not going to take away the Project Management role or PMO office overnight. We are still in the nascent stage, and it would take years before the PMO might or could be replaced by AI. Maybe by that time, we might as well have retired : )
Sustainability – While AI may replace a few jobs in near future, it's always smart for a Project Manager to learn the basics of AI, ML etc., and understand some of the jargon with a bit of technological summary on what these are about. Happy news is, they are not expected to learn programming, coding, or any software architecture. The key tip here is to learn some amount of AI as it would become easier to talk to clients and navigate this sudden tide and keenly understand how the AI industry would shape up, down the years.
Knowledge Management – It is observed that certain sections of Project Managers immediately rushed to join high level AI courses from reputed educational institutes by spending a good amount of money, with the hope to secure their future in the IT industry. The practical answer to this is, such a gush is not at all needed. While it may benefit a minority of Project Managers coming from a technical background, it need not hold good for any Project Managers, taking up such a course. There are a lot of free YouTube, Online courses which are sufficient to go through and get the nuances of AI, rather than spending heavily on such courses. In other words, understanding a decent level of AI knowledge is enough for a Project Manager.
Getting into best fitment – As much as none can predict the future of the industry, we have spent considerable years in IT. Thus we need to ensure we enable ourselves to become the correct fitment in the correct team and technology. Since the entire world would revolve around AI in the years to roll by, it's time the Project Managers of today slowly move out of their comfort zone: Start liaising with the AI teams within their companies; connect with friends and professionals who are already into AI, to gain insight on the required specific skills of the future. Once we get a rough idea, we need to find such teams or companies and see the possibilities of getting inducted there, to not only foolproof our future, but also to be a forerunner in such skills and be the first generation that would deal with the latest technologies. It would surely be a matter of pride that we are a part of the winning team that’s going to decide how humanity would run its course based on our ideas and technologies we are developing well in advance!
Thus, to sum up, it always pays to grasp, learn new technologies, be slightly ahead than our counterparts, to ensure we are scaled up and be at par in this “technological inflation” and enjoy doing the role of a Project Manager but with better equipped AI knowledge!!!