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A day in the life of a Project Manager

maart 29, 2020

'A day in the life of…’ is a blog, video, picture or a page out of the journal of a co-worker at Valtech. Since days can feel like weeks at the moment and simply because we love some change; Lara Gavrilovic, Project Manager and Team Captain, will takes us through her week. Lara usually works at our office in Amsterdam, but right now… things are a bit different.

Monday: planning, checking and repeat

IT’S MONDAY! Off to the office... oh, wait. Not this week, not this month. Instead of jumping on the train to Amsterdam, I’m heading to my own living room. Here, I don’t share my desk island with Lenneke, Vincent, Denise or Josianne as usual, but with my boyfriend. After the first day of working from home, he already moved his stuff to another room. Who needs the holiday relationship challenge when you can get a full-on COVID-19 experience?*

Okay, focus. Monday morning means a lot of calls and check-ins.

  • I start the day with coffee and a call with my team
  • After I have a check-in with all team captains (TC) and Ragner, our Managing Director
  • We have a formal project check-in with our circle
  • And I end the morning with check-ins with our clients for a fresh start of the week

* After Lara’s boyfriend bought a noise cancelling headphone, they continued working together in the same room in peace. Their relationship is now stronger than ever [red].

Plan, check, plan, check

Now that the morning check-ins are done, I continue with what I love doing most: planning stuff. Project Managers at Valtech use Team Planner (and Float, for the rebels out there) to make sure our resource planning is accurate. This is also the tool the Management Team uses to keep track on all projects with regards to utilization. Every Monday afternoon, all project managers (PM’s) gather for the Amsterdam team planning. This is the most important internal PM meeting of the week, since this is where we check what kind of projects are on the schedule, which ones are in the pipeline and how we can improve on utilization of the team.

Next to planning in different tools, Project Managers at Valtech also manage projects with the team. For me, the week starts by setting up a kick-off for a new project. This is a project with a new team, based in Ukraine and the Netherlands. Normally it is already an exciting challenge to make sure we are the right fit for the client, but as we are working from home, it even became more challenging. Let’s go team!

Tuesday: kicking ass during kick-offs

Today is D-day: we kick the project off together with the client. At 08.00 AM, I check-in with our Business Analyst and Scrum Master to go over the presentation one more time and adjust it where needed.

Before we continue with the kick-off, I have to catch up with the TC’s and Ragner, to make sure all is running smoothly, and our team members are feeling supported by us as Team Captains – especially in these trying times.

At 09:30 AM, I’m jumping out of the TC and Mentor check-in and into the external kick-off. I’m excited to start working on the sprints with the team. When starting a new project with a new team, these are my golden tips:

  • Prepare the team building part of the kick-off in advance
  • Give your team members homework to prepare the kick-off
  • Put care into your internal kick-off (1-2 hours), make sure your team members are able to bond before the external kick-off (3-4 hours)
  • Use online tools to make the meeting interactive
  • Collaborate closely with your scrum master when setting up the team building activity
  • Make sure everybody is using their camera
  • Plan in a coffee break for people to stretch their legs and grab a coffee (even when it’s an online meeting)

In the afternoon, I have a call with some Account Directors and the client about the next steps of a project. In the meanwhile, I transform our living room into our new working space, as it is much lighter and has a balcony. And treated myself with a delicious snack – of course from a local restaurant!  
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Wednesday: a tight but flexible schedule

Wow is it already Wednesday?! Time flies, when you’re working from home. Today, I need to make sure all documentation discussed during the kick-off is in place. So, it’s going to be a day full of administration: making sure budgets are in place and all different platforms are installed with documentation. At least, that is what I thought in the morning.

Combining the Team Captain role with my Project Manager role asks for some flexibility. But as a planner, this is the part I love: always adapting to changes, whether it is in a project or in the team. It keeps me motivated to do better. The day ended up being a combination of administrative work and catch ups. I feel that especially in times like these, we need to stay connected with each other and make sure everybody feels supported. Catch ups with my team members are therefore very important.

Clocking off

To make sure I can unwind at the end of the day, I always cook. Honestly, Hello Fresh is the only reason I cook. All the ingredients are there and more importantly – my meals look like the picture. #goals

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Today’s meal: Korean Bibimbap. I love Korean food and I’m a sucker for South Korea. I’ve been there a couple of times for my previous work and recommend everyone to go to South Korea whenever you get the chance. Now it’s dinner time!

Thursday: spicing things up with online courses

Today, my calendar is full of catch up meetings with fellow Project Managers and a Scrum Master, in order to make sure we are all aligned on the clients we work on and to make our process as efficient and successful as possible.

In the afternoon I decide to follow a free online training on online meetings via Mischief Makers. I love to work on self-development and always look for new ways to do so. It keeps me focused and gives me different insights on projects.

Friday: time to get creative

Last week has been crazy. Luckily, this Friday is a less busy day. I make sure to catch up with some of my team members and mentors. Apart from that, I’ve a meeting with some Account Directors and the creative team for new concepts for our client. Hopefully we can support their business even more with cool out-of-the-box ideas.

After I made sure all timesheets are filled correctly in OpenAir, it’s time to relax.

Off to the weekend, cheers to all of you!

pm_3picture 1.pngGot excited that Valtech makes it work even during quarantine? Do you recognize yourself in being a planner or are you just a sucker for Lara's cooking skills? We’re still looking for Project Managers at Valtech.


Would you like to know more about project management @ Valtech or do you have other questions?
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