Project Manager, Lorenz
What does your role entail?
I am a Project Manager in the Land Domain, working in the Weapons Operating Centre managing the acquisition of weapons systems for Front Line Commands.
In some cases, this involves procuring new equipment and in others it is managing the upgrade of existing equipment. The acquisition cycle for the weapons systems I am involved with can take up to 10 years to complete and for it to go into service. I am currently managing a project that is in Pre-Concept Phase. My role involves ensuring we are in a position to deliver the Concept Phase, which requires resourcing my team appropriately and co-ordinating the planning and preparation for the Concept Phase. I interact with our Front Line Customer to understand their requirements and in due course will be integral in the tendering and negotiation process to select a supplier to deliver the required weapons system. Prior to commencing the Concept Phase, I also need to manage the process of obtaining approval for the required funding.
Why did you choose a career as a Project Manager? Where did you begin?
I have had a varied career straddling Strategy Consulting, Corporate Finance and Project Management. I started my career working as a consultant for Andersen Consulting. The beauty of project management is that there is a distinct start and finish to a project meaning there is a tangible project outcome. Being part of implementing a beneficial change of some sort to an organisation is very satisfying. Project Management is a career that offers variety as you can move from one project to another, sometimes in different industries and locations, always bringing new and interesting challenges.
What difference does your role make? Why is your role important? Who does your role impact?
My current role in the Weapons Operating Centre makes a difference to the men and women on the front line by ensuring they have battle-winning weapons systems at their disposal when they need it.
What are some of the most exciting projects you’ve worked on?
Prior to joining DE&S some of the exciting projects I have worked on include the restart of an underground mine in Africa and setting up an aircraft leasing business and procuring passenger aircraft for a start-up airline. Since joining DE&S I have been involved in a project introducing a new armoured vehicle into service. I really enjoy my current role as the weapons systems I work on are complex, and, given the early stage nature of the project, I have been involved in the upfront research undertaken to better understand the capability requirement that will ultimately drive the choice of weapons system – which I have found extremely interesting.
What are your career aspirations? And how does DE&S support you?
Since I previously worked in non-Defence sectors, my short-term objective is to gain experience in managing Defence projects. In the longer term, there is opportunity for career progression into more senior roles, or, the opportunity to take on the management of really large and complex projects. DE&S offers a lot of career support. There is a lot of training available, including computer-based training, seminars and externally provided training. Due to the vast number of projects being undertaken at any time, there is a huge range of experience available – large and small projects, short and extremely long projects, early stage concept development and manufacture and delivery into service of equipment. This range of experience means you can really improve your project management skillset, all within the same organisation.
Why DE&S? What makes it a great place to work?
The programmes and projects DE&S delivers are genuinely interesting and so varied with the added benefit of delivering a public service by supporting our Armed Forces. Working at DE&S gives the flexibility to move between projects within the same organisation, giving you exposure to new and interesting challenges with the benefit of employment continuity.
What pathways are there into a career as a Project Manager? Is it a difficult career to get into?
The pathways into a career as a Project Manager are varied, including, but not limited to, from a technical or engineering background, from an IT background and even a Finance background. The key is gaining experience in work where there is a distinct deliverable achieved within a limited timeframe. Project management opportunities tend to open up for you based on your prior experience. Look out for opportunities within your organisation when some or other change is being implemented and try to get involved with that project. In parallel to gaining experience, seek out a project management qualification such as those offered by APM. Gaining such a qualification will augment your experience and improve your attractiveness to prospective employers.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start a career in your field at DE&S?
The prospect of working in Defence if you come from another sector can be daunting. However, if you are willing to climb the initial steep learning curve when you join the reward of a stimulating career is definitely worth it. If you are curious and willing to learn, there are always specialists to hand to support you. Be prepared to ask for help or advice when needed and you will find, before you know it, that you will be the specialist supporting someone else.