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Project Management Advice by Don Kim, PMP

By Bisk
Interview about Project Management w/ Don Kim, PMP

Don Kim, PMP

Project Managers enter the field from many different professions. Some get started in Information Technology and find themselves evolving into a project manager role. Others may take a lead in organizing a work project and realize that Project Management is something they would like to do as a career.

As Don Kim will explain in this interview, some professionals may become project managers as a result of their small business background. Don is an experienced project manager and runs Projection, a blog dedicated to helping fellow PM's. We asked Don some questions about his path to project management and here's what he had to say.

Please, tell us about your background and education?

I'm a results-driven business professional with over 15 years worth of successful accomplishments in diverse industries ranging from finance, retail, healthcare and IT, with a strong concentration for the past 10 years in program and project management, business analysis, software development and large scale infrastructure deployments in the IT industry.  I currently work as an IT project manager for a major medical device manufacturing company by day and also run a very popular and highly visited project management website at

I'm fully knowledgeable in formal project management methods and best practices having earned a Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI®) as well as being a Certified ScrumMaster from the Scrum Alliance.  I have a bachelor’s degree from UC Irvine in Philosophy & Comparative Literature.

How did you get started in project management?

I have a very diverse background in that I owned and operated several small businesses, but also self-taught myself how to program software to run my businesses more effectively and efficiently on the side while running those businesses.  After selling the businesses and consulting for several small businesses to help them implement and deploy their own IT solutions, I decided to get back into working full time as a professional software developer.

This ranged from startups to a small consulting company that catered to Fortune 500 companies.  From this I found that due to my strong business background coupled with a detailed knowledge of technology, that being a project manager fit really well since this role requires the ability to reconcile and communicate between the two.  I have formally held this role for the past 6 years.

For people who are new to project management, what is your main priority as a project manager?

My main tactical priority is getting a project done on time, under budget and within the scope.  But the ability to communicate and lead teams is what makes this happen, so those in reality are always at the front of my priorities.

In your opinion, what is the biggest misconception about project managers?

I think the biggest misconception is that you have to be a subject matter expert to lead a project successfully.  In other words, you can only manage a software project if you had experience developing software.  But success, in my opinion, is having a sound foundation in standards, practices, and processes coupled with real world experience in managing projects. 

It's really your ability to use sound project management practices and real world experiences rather than technical knowledge that will make you a successful project manager.  In fact, I would go so far as to say having too much technical knowledge will get in the way of your viewing the project from an overall business value perspective, which is the most critical view to having.

What is the most rewarding part of being a project manager?

The most rewarding thing is that high you get when you deliver a high profile project that you and your team struggled yet successfully completed in delivering.  It is no different than that feeling a sports team gets when they win the championship.

What advice would you recommend to an experienced project manager who is considering earning their PMP certification?

I would highly recommend they pursue earning their PMP no matter how experienced they are.  Studying for the exam will allow one to review and test one's knowledge of formal project management processes, standards, and best practices.  As I just mentioned, having this knowledge and foundation coupled with real world experience will allow any project manager in any industry irrespective of their technical domain knowledge or lack thereof to succeed.

Furthermore, the investment to take the exam will more than pay for itself in lieu of the fact that project managers with the PMP exam are known to make about 15% more than those who don't.  And certain sectors of the industry such as healthcare, finance, engineering, etc. now require (or highly recommend) you have the certification.

A career in project management can be professionally and financially rewarding. As Don points out, earning your PMP certification can not only benefit new project managers but also experienced professionals through a potentially higher salary*.

For more information about how PMP training can potentially benefit your career click here.



Category: Project Management