Erica Pepitone: Inspiring women in project management: Erica Pepitone
Inspiring women in project management series, I interview people who have been in the industry for a long time. You don’t need to be extremely experienced to inspire others.
Erica Pepitone is a PMP, a first-year project manager who lives, works, and learns in New York City. She recently switched from a coordinator job to a job as a project manager, a move that many people are unsure about.
Erica PepitoneErica: You made the leap from project coordinator to project manager. How was that for your?
As coordinator, I was fortunate to have a manager who was a skilled PM and helped me kickstart my career as project manager. Before I was officially appointed to this role, I had many opportunities to manage small projects, ask questions and take on project management tasks.
Before I became a project manager, I had people who gave me confidence in my ability to do the work and my skill set. It felt more like a transition from smaller projects to full responsibility.
That’s good! It sounds like you planned everything perfectly. How was it getting settled in your new job and completing your PMP(r).
After passing the PMP exam, I was able to start my new job almost immediately. The exam prep was very helpful in getting me started in my new role. Despite being nervous about the exam, I enjoyed school and studying. Because I learned most of my knowledge about project management on the job, it was fascinating to see it as a discipline in all industries and not just how it is practiced in my industry.
It was fascinating to learn about the foundations and why we do what they do, and what it means when we plug numbers into formulas.
What is the most difficult thing about your current role?
Recently, I moved to a new company. I am still settling in. It is easy to feel at home with the same group, get used to the same procedures, templates, and order of operations.
It can feel like you are starting over. Changing companies and becoming a project manager in a new role is like starting from scratch. “The way we do things” may not apply to everyone. What worked for one culture and one team may not work for another. If they don’t work for the team, even the most beautiful processes and best templates, they are useless. There’s a lot of trial and error involved in improving processes to make them work for everyone.
It’s been great to think about new ways to apply the skills and experiences I have to different situations. I’m also learning a lot along this journey.
Do you have a mentor?
I have been blessed to have had wonderful mentors throughout my career, both before I became a project manager to guide me and afterward to teach me the most about project management. Mentors have been a key part of my career growth.
My mentor in my first job as a project manager not only taught me the best practices and hard skills, but also helped me to develop interpersonal skills that would be useful in difficult situations. I am extremely grateful to her for being patient with me and answering all my questions. There are many people whose work I admire, but have not met.
There are many blogs, books, research, and books out there (including this one!). When I’m working on a problem, they serve as “digital mentors”.
What other career advancement activities are you involved in?
In spring I was very focused on PMP study. Since then, I have continued to read articles and books about project management, as well as subscribe to online newsletters. I have taken classes that are directly or indirectly related my work in the past, especially in areas where I feel I need to improve. As a coordinator, I felt intimidated when I ran meetings in which I was the youngest and least experienced person.