Lindsay Vallance and Asher Jacobson are project managers at Quirk. Since we realised that many people might not know what that means, we got them to answer some pointed questions about the ups, downs and in-betweens of the job.
1. You’re at a fancy cocktail party, hobnobbing with fabulous people. Someone asks you, “So, what do you do?” You answer:
Asher: The usual line is, “I am a project manager at a digital agency called Quirk. Q-u-i-r-k” (sometimes I have to spell out the name for people).
Lindsay: “I’m a Project Manager at a digital marketing agency called Quirk.” Most people won’t know what this would entail so I usually have to explain further and give an example of an exciting project that I’m working on at the time.
2. What is a typical day on the job like, in an agency environment? Be honest now…
Lindsay: There is no such thing as a typical day. Every day is different and every day throws different challenges. This means you never get bored, but it can at times be stressful. Some common features in my average day would be meetings, catch-ups, phone calls, mails, checking on project statuses, reviewing work in progress and doing project recons.
Asher: It is pretty stressful and tough, yet incredibly satisfying. There is a lot to do and a lot of strong personalities that can often clash – but when everything and everyone gels, it is very rewarding.
3. Project management in a marketing agency – well-oiled machine, or herding cats?
Lindsay: If you don’t have a proper project plan in place, it can be like herding cats, but when the project has a plan and everyone knows what they have to do, it has the potential to run like a well-oiled machine. It’s very satisfying when things run smoothly.
4. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. What are you really, really good at? And what do you kind of suck at?
Asher: I have been told I have a calming way of dealing with projects and getting people to do the tasks at hand. This does help when you are dealing with complex projects on tight deadlines. My weakness would have to be that I have a tendency to be impatient with certain projects.
Lindsay: I’m very friendly, patient and I like to think that I’m good at dealing with all types of personalities. But I sometimes stress!
5. When is the last time your job made you go, “Oh yeah, that was awesome!”?
Asher: I’m busy working on a top secret project at the moment, which is a very cool mobile website and something that we haven’t built before.
Lindsay: Whenever a project that I have worked on goes live, looking great with no delays, I get the “Oh yeah, that was awesome!” feeling.
6. Which departments are a dream to work with? And which ones are challenging?
Asher: The Engineering team gives me nightmares as it is such a specialised skill. It is very difficult to check up on the status and you really have to rely on the person that they are up to date. The rest of the teams are pretty cool.
7. What is the one most hair-rippingly frustrating part of your job?
Asher: Waiting for client reviews and feedback.
Lindsay: I’m quite a punctual person, so when people are late or simply don’t pitch for meetings, I get pretty frustrated.
8. Awesome, I want to become a PM! Where do I start?
Lindsay: Do some research and apply!
9. I’m super-shy and really bad at organising. That totally makes me the ideal person to become a PM – right?
Asher: Maybe not… But there is always design.
The Agency Project Management course from Quirk is a seven-week course that teaches you everything you need to know about managing projects in an agency environment - from risk and conflict management to planning and communication. The course starts on 27 July 2012. Find out more here.