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Hiring a Project Manager — The 10 Essentials: Word on the Street — April 25th thru April 29th

May 1st, 2011 1 COMMENT
Managing the Hiring of a Project Manager

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

Hiring a Project Manager  — The 10 Essentials

Distributors often ask me what Classic Exhibits considers the ideal qualities of an exhibit project manager. Here are 10 qualities we consider essential, in no particular order.

1. Someone who enjoys assisting others.

We’ve found that a background in retail customer service is beneficial . . .  even if it was the candidate’s first job. They learn valuable skills (see Mel’s article about retail and customer service). As you may know, Mel and I both come from a retail training background where we were taught to always look for a way to make the customer feel appreciated and feel like they are “right.”

2. Creative problem solver.

Gone are the days where someone just calls and orders a kit. Most inquiries that come across your desk or ours require creativity and “outside the box” thinking. So a PM must be flexible in their thinking.

3. Mechanical mindset

A project manager must be able to view things from a “practical engineering” view. They need to be able to convert your client’s vision into a practical reality. Our project managers must have CAD skills since they are expected to create detail drawings on custom projects for our Production Department.

4. Detail-oriented (to a point).

This goes with #3. They need to be able focus on the details that will make an exhibit functionally sound. But, and this is a huge BUT,  they are expected to relieve you of the non-essential details, allowing you to focus on sales and new business generation. Most distributors don’t know, and don’t want to know, how many locks are required for a VK-1032 display. They want to know the features and the graphic dims. It’s the project manager’s job to convey exactly what you want and need to know to complete the order.

5. Understands the “big picture” and doesn’t let “I’m right and you’re wrong” obscure them from seeing the larger goals.

This is a big one. Sometimes with the “engineering” mindset on, a PM can get caught up in all the “can’t do’s” rather than what “can” be done. You really need someone that focuses on the “can do”!

6. Personable – Enjoys the interaction with distributors.

Basic people skills! If a person does not like dealing with people, then let them go or don’t hire them. Hate to sound blunt, but it’s reality.

7. Team player – someone who’s willing to raise their hand to assist others.

Team Player


We work with others — sometimes a lot of others, sometimes just a few. Regardless, PM’s need input from others and must be willing to lend a hand when necessary. That’s what makes a good PM. It gets back to being a creative problem solver, and one part of being a good “problem solver” is  tapping into the knowledge of others and serving as a resource for colleagues.

8. Courteous – Recognizes that social courtesy is the glue that greases the wheels in any organization.

Simply put . . . we spend much of our lives at work. Therefore who wants to be around others everyday who are not respectful, nice, and courteous of others.

9. Excellent time management skills.

Juggling is a more accurate depiction. Our PM’s can attest to that. They need to be able to handle upwards of 20 projects at any given time. All bringing different levels of detail and often multiple personalities involved at the other end of the phone. So heavy focus on organization and implementation is key.

10. They care. Yes, they wouldn’t be here if they weren’t getting paid, but they still want to do a good job, they want the company to succeed, and they want our customers to be happy.

It’s important to remember that no one is going to be as emotionally invested in the the business as you are, if you are the owner or executive, but PM’s that care do in fact have emotional connections with what they do. Regardless of the economic times. It’s easy for anyone to say they are invested when we are all worried about economic conditions. But it’s a clear differentiating factor when you find those who are as emotionally invested when the times are good. A lot of this comes back to whether or not a PM, or any employee for that matter, believes in the overall vision and focus of the company.

So, those are 10 of the things we look for. How about you? Do you agree? Are there other elements that you would include? Please respond and share your comments.

Have a great week ahead.

–Kevin Carty


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One Response to “Hiring a Project Manager — The 10 Essentials: Word on the Street — April 25th thru April 29th”

  1. well said Kevin! I liked your 10!

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