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Putting Your Transferable Skills to Use as a Project Manager

on March 31 at 09:28 PM

Project & Program Management


Traditionally, project management careers existed mostly in construction, but now they appear almost anywhere (e.g., the tech world, higher ed, government), and it’s a field that’s growing. The good news is you won’t require training to get started! As a PhD, you’ve already engaged in a number of tasks and developed skills that directly apply to roles in project -- and program -- management.


Remember that a position may not always call for a project or program Manager, but nonetheless, these are skills that employers are looking for. Some of the aspects of the PhD that develop these aptitudes include sustained research, teaching, and conducting experiments. These tasks have start and stop dates, clear outcomes, and demonstrable deliverables. Other elements of the PhD that are more like program management include chairing or sitting on committees, engaging with the writing centre, or managing a lab. These tasks maintain initiatives longer, and almost always have projects embedded in them.


Below is a list of some areas that develop transferable skills you can put to use in project and program management. Consider how you have employed these skills and find tangible examples from your own work to fill out your list.


  • Time Management: This includes scheduling, planning, and prioritization.
  • Communications: Think of all the instances when you’re required to communicate with others, may it be writing, documenting, creating and delivering pitches and presentations, or communicating updates.
  • Research: The ability to identify gaps in knowledge, learning from others, exploring and pitching new ideas, or supporting an argument using evidence.
  • Finance: Creating a budget, tracking expenses, and management money flow.
  • Problem Solving: Clearing roadblocks, making contingency plans, escalating problems as needed, decision making, and higher-level thinking and analytical skills
  • People Experience: Keeping others on track, engaging both laterally and upwards, using soft skills to motivate people, delegate tasks, report to others, gather reports.

Members can rent and watch the full panel to learn more about the difference between "programs" and "projects," to gain an overview of the fields of project and program management, and discover how to transition into a career in project or program management.