Project Manager, Laura
What does your role entail?
My current role involves the delivery of business cases for new army equipment. As the Approvals Lead, I’m responsible for bringing together the people and the evidence required to assure and to present business cases to the Investment Approvals Committee and Treasury.
Why did you choose a career as a Project Manager? Where did you begin?
I dabbled in a few roles before I came to be a Project Manager. I’d spent over 10 years in the insurance business, working my way across and through different roles gaining experience, but ultimately concluded that where I had enjoyed myself the most, I’d been affecting a change in some way. I do love to plan (in all aspects of life!) and seeing through the genesis of an idea to development and delivery is really satisfying, whether it’s a policy change or delivering body armour.
What difference does your role make? Why is your role important? Who does your role impact?
What we do as project managers is key to successful and timely delivery of safe and effective equipment to Front Line Commands and their service personnel. Every day we play a functional part of making this happen, and that is ultimately what is important.
What are some of the most exciting projects you’ve worked on?
I’ve been incredibly lucky and came straight into DE&S to work in the Land domain on a portfolio known as the Integrated Soldier System. This was incredibly exciting as this was a collection of projects seeking to form an understanding of what the ‘future soldier’ might look like, from protection to soldier-worn power.
Towards the people side of project management, my current approvals role has afforded me a huge range of opportunities to present to and engage with senior approving authorities in London, HM Treasury and DE&S’s Executive Committee.
What are your career aspirations? And how does DE&S support you?
I came out of insurance and into DE&S in 2015, gaining promotion in 2019. DE&S has provided me with the support and confidence I needed to progress through the organisation. I have a Functional Development Officer who monitors my progress and gives guidance and encouragement outside of my normal reporting line, so I always have someone I can turn to with questions.
I aspire to keep pushing upwards and build on my visibility and profile while developing others. I’d like to be able to work in multiple domains and corporate roles at some stage to get the full breadth of experience available, and DE&S actively promotes this.
Why DE&S? What makes it a great place to work?
DE&S gives me the ability to work completely flexibly without impacting my career aspirations. I have a young family and work around school drop-off and pick-up times, which is a huge benefit to working here. DE&S recognises that there is no ‘one size fits all’ working pattern and, by promoting flexible working, the organisation gives me equal opportunity to deliver and succeed without feeling pressured to juggle work and family.
I also love working with a variety of people and understanding the intricacies and foibles that come with getting the best from an individual. DE&S allows me dedicated time to spend developing and supporting others as Functional Development Officer and volunteer in addition to my main role.
What pathways are there into a career as a Project Manager? Is it a difficult career to get into?
Right at the start of my career in DE&S, I was advised that if you’ve planned anything in your life, a holiday or a building project for example, the skills that you use can be applied to that of a project manager. Understanding the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘where’, ‘why’ and ‘how much’ of anything you undertake are the fundamentals of the role and anyone can do it. I work with a broad range of people that have come into project management roles through our Graduate Scheme and Internships but also, like me, from roles outside of traditional project management that have transferable skills.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start a career in your field at DE&S?
Lean in and don’t be afraid to ask questions of anyone. You will absolutely get out what you put in and although there are times when you’ll feel uncertain about what you’re doing or being asked to do, you won’t be the only one in the room. By actively seeking out information and building on your knowledge base, you will make quick progress.
Also, keep an acronym notebook handy from day one!