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Not Worth it to become a PM

Bonesaw

Speaking as a project architect with 10-yr experience, and looking ahead to my future, I often wonder what the next step is.  It seems like project management would be the answer, but based on the roles and responsibilities I associate with that job it just doesn't seem like any fun.  I love drawing, detailing, and working with consultants.  I love designing and putting together CDs and visiting the job site.  PMs I've seen typically spend their time scheduling/attending meetings and tracking the fee, with little time for the actual design or production of the project.

Am I missing something?  Is there more to being a project manager?  I don't want to limit my growth (or salary), but perhaps there are other paths?  Thanks

 
Oct 18, 19 2:49 am
midlander

technical director? senior PA? or simply principal?


pm isn't necessarily a senior position, just a specific work role. not all firms divide their work that way either; plenty of them split project management up differently and keep most of the client facing work with principals and design directors.

Oct 18, 19 6:51 am
atelier nobody

At one firm I worked at, PA & PM were supposedly at the same level, and there were (again supposedly) both Senior PA & Senior PA positions. That was all on paper - the reality was there were 2-3 Senior PAs and <10 PAs in a 200+ person firm, with PMs expected to act as both PM & de facto PA on most projects.

midlander

my last office (big corporate) had titles based only on seniority. pm/pd/pa were roles assigned per project. some people were good at pa and pm, a few at designer and pa, but generally there was a lot of fluidity in roles as the workload developed. i think there is a lot of wisdom in keeping roles open ended and letting everyone have a stake in the design. the only bad managers were the ones who viewed themselves as pure pm's and stayed aloof from the design, as if it was the solely an issue for the designers when problems arose.

BulgarBlogger

Why not just go off on your own?


Oct 18, 19 8:47 am
midlander

PA's tend to have the least face to face exposure with clients, at least on commercial projects. it does put a limit on what a person can do if they intend to stick to that track.

BulgarBlogger

I know plenty of PA's who are horrible at client management. If you're able to get good at client management/interaction, then you're probably ready to have clients on your own.


Oct 18, 19 8:48 am
Chad Miller

Bubbles has a good point.

Chad Miller

F-me. I need more caffeine. Sorry Bulgar.

BTW, you did the same thing over here ... twice.

tintt

Less bong rips. More coffee.

Archlandia

How is that possible? Chad's chosen receptacle of delivery are one and the same

Chad Miller

Thing is I don't drink coffee or smoke weed.

tintt

Riiiight.

tduds

Sorry, you're Bubbles now.

Chad Miller

Nope, never done any type of narcotic, including weed. I'm a square dork.

SneakyPete

Bubbles are round.

tintt

A dork is a... nevermind.

tduds

More or less cylindrical.

sameolddoctor
Great name OP? Do you work for the Saudis?

Regarding your question, money-wise the PM route would be logical, whether you have a choice in the matter or not. And for the others commenting here, most offices don’t promote to principal until 15 years of experience, if not more...
Oct 18, 19 11:05 am
BulgarBlogger

It depends how much work you're bringing in, and if you're licensed or not. It has nothing to do with your technical know-how. I doubt Rem or Zaha were doing any technical detailing or code/zoning analyses. They were just good at bringing in work and designing.

sameolddoctor

Doesnt look like the OP is bringing in any work...

If you want to be the boss you need to be intimately familiar with all aspects of the work. 

Oct 18, 19 1:32 pm
atelier nobody

Based on some of the bosses I've worked for, I would dispute this.

Let me rephrase this. If you want to be a great architect you need to be intimately familiar with all aspects of the work.

atelier nobody

OK, that I'll buy.

atelier nobody

Specific job titles vary wildly among firms but, generally speaking, your perception of project management is pretty spot on. Worse are the firms where one ends up having to perform ALL tasks of a PM, PA, & job captain on multiple projects at once - at my first "PM" job, I never left the office earlier than 10 PM.

As midlander mentioned, some firms have senior technical positions. I was (eventually) able to find a niche position where I do all the technical stuff I love with minimal (but not zero) project management - my title is "Principal/Senior Technical Architect." From what I have seen, it tends to be the large corporate firms that offer a "technical career path."

Oct 18, 19 1:37 pm
Bonesaw

Really interesting perspectives.  It sounds like ideally there would be two tracks, with PA and PM being on equal playing field.  My firm is more linear, with PM running the show, and PA being under their authority.  So while I appreciate and agree it is worthwhile to gain experience in all aspects of the firm, I don't want to advance to PM while leaving behind all my PA responsibilities forever, even if it means a raise.  Maybe I try to challenge the status quo and fight for a senior PA position.


On the topic of ownership, all the partners at my office are overworked and spread too thin to really command any of the projects they are tasked with being stamping architect on.  The obvious answer is go out on my own, but how many solo architects actually manage to focus on design and enjoying the absolute control, vs doing a bunch of admin stuff and being overworked and spread thin.


I also don't want to do residential.  I've grown fond of the public work we do and see a future for myself in this niche.  Our clients are good people and the work feels meaningful.

Oct 18, 19 9:37 pm
midlander

different firms do approach this very differently; ultimately it reflects different priorities for the product. so either you persuade management to create a new track for someone like yourself, or you look for a firm that puts greater priority on the technical proficiency of their work. it's very possible if all the partners come from a management background they simply hadn't considered this and might be very willing to develop a stronger technical team.

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