What's your job about?
My current role as a Project Coordinator is to plan and communicate upcoming activities with my team, track the budget and schedule, report our progress to the client and upper management, work with suppliers to obtain their services and ensure the technical team have everything they need to perform their work. My role can also include writing plans for an upcoming phase of the project or working with another part of the team to gather and consolidate information.
I work in one of Leidos’ larger projects so there’s always a lot happening; because of this, there’s opportunity to work with many different people across different project areas. Working in a large team also means that you can see many different working styles and can pick and choose what others do that you may want to implement.
My advice for project management graduates (in particular ones with a limited IT background) is to proactively learn technical information from teammates such as Solution Architects, Software, Network and Database Engineers etc. Although project management principles apply to many fields, having domain-specific knowledge will make you a more understanding and effective project manager.
What's your background?
I grew up in Brisbane in an area surrounded by bush, so I was lucky enough to experience living alongside lots of native animals around like wallabies, goannas, bush turkeys and carpet pythons.
For many years I planned to be a research scientist and so I studied a Bachelor of Biomedical Science. After working in three different research laboratories I realised that although I love science the day-to-day life of a researcher wasn’t for me. I decided to start anew by moving to Melbourne and studying a Graduate Diploma of Business. During my studies, I interviewed at Leidos and was accepted into the 2019 grad program as a Project Coordinator. I’ve been a Project Coordinator at Leidos for 2 years and am really enjoying it here.
During my time at Leidos, I’ve worked in a Proposal team in Leidos’ Business Development area and in two different projects during the execution and project closure phases. The Business Development area of Leidos is quite different to the project side; I think it’s a valuable experience to first work in a project and then get involved in some proposal work.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Yes, someone with a different background to me could definitely perform my job. I’m a Project Coordinator working in IT however my background is neuroscience, genetics and business. Whilst taking some more IT courses at university would have helped, a lot of the skills and knowledge required in my role is specific to my project or the governance structure and processes which I need to comply with. As long as you actively learn and ask questions along the way it’s possible to build the skills to work in an area you don’t have an extensive background in.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
I’ve landed in an amazing team that has given me great development opportunities; because of this I’m now responsible for delivering a body of work within my project. My favourite part of the job is when my team and I achieve a key milestone after many months of hard work.
My role also requires me to interact with lots of people including the technical team, upper management and external suppliers. I enjoy building relationships with team members and suppliers outside of Leidos as most people I’ve worked with have a really good sense of humour which makes work really enjoyable.
What are the limitations of your job?
Because I’m responsible for delivering a body of work I have to obtain resources, closely track the finances & schedule and report my team’s progress. Although my team is amazing and always available to help, I tend to put pressure on myself to ensure I feel in control of what I’m responsible for delivering.
Project Coordinators have to make lots of phone calls and interact with many people. Someone who doesn’t enjoy talking to people and building relationships with others would likely not enjoy this job, having said that you don’t need to be extrovert to do well in this role.
3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...
1. Taking the occasional early study break or going on that 3-day road trip won’t hurt your results, you’ll come back refreshed and be more efficient when you return to study.
2. Keep in contact with lecturers and tutors; they may know of potential job opportunities or become a mentor.
3. Your limited work experience doesn’t make you less valuable than someone with more experience. You will be able to work with the same confidence and capability that others possess with time; as long as you do the best that you can with the skillset you have at the time then that’s enough.