Project managers are high in demand, globally, across all sectors. Project management professionals with effective cross-industry and soft skills are particularly sought-after, as they are highly regarded and are more successful in completing projects.

While there are many competent project managers with ‘hard’ skills such as industry knowledge, tools and techniques, there is a lack of experienced project managers with comprehensive cross-industry capabilities and soft ‘people’ skills.

This demand has been verified by a study conducted by the Project Management Institute (PMI) known as Pulse of the Profession®, revealing that possessing hard skills alone is no longer sufficient in today’s competitive job market. Just as important, are soft ‘people’ skills which include the ability to communicate well, lead teams, motivate and resolve conflicts. These soft skills and wider business expertise enable them to manage projects successfully across all industries.

Nevertheless, there are many project managers who are successful at managing projects in one sector but may not enjoy the same success when they take on a project management role in another industry.

Why does this happen?

On-the-job training
Many dedicated program and project management professionals’ transition to their role from a technical or specialist background. Former occupations might include mechanical engineer, IT manager, R&D manager, new product engineer or quality technician.

However, the project management knowledge and practices learned through on-the-job training, such as risk management, is often tied solely to managing projects for a specific company or industry.

Once an individual decides to progress their career to a more senior role or into another industry they may struggle to progress without further education and developing important soft skills.

masters in project and program management

How to develop cross-industry project management capabilities

Join professional organisations
Joining relevant professional organisations, such as PMI and its local chapters, enables project managers to stay abreast of the latest technologies, skills and industry news through white papers, webinars, podcasts, newsletters, tools and articles.


Attend project management events
Project management events and conferences can enhance knowledge and present excellent networking opportunities. Networking with project managers in different industries provides valuable insights into others’ experiences and opens discussions for future business opportunities.


Develop soft ‘people’ skills
To expand career opportunities and open possibilities across any industry, project management professionals need to complement hard project management skills with critical soft skills.

It’s often these soft skills which truly set project and programme management professionals apart. Those that can lead people from any discipline and manage teams of any size are the professionals who progress to senior roles.

If they can communicate well with others, motivate, demonstrate strong decision-making, negotiating and influencing skills, they will achieve great results and lead their teams successfully, no matter the company or industry in which they work.

Just as professionals strive to improve and challenge their knowledge of core project management competencies, equal effort should be made to develop these soft skills.


Broaden perspectives
To develop a full cross-industry project management skillset, professionals need to broaden their perspectives. Learning from your peers, engaging with different teams and managing a variety of project scenarios will provide essential insight.

This is where further education and training in project and programme management is vital. It provides an opportunity to move from proficiency in a specific industry to excel in a project management role at any company, in any industry.


Engage with higher education
The fastest way to accelerate career progression and develop cross-industry skills is by pursuing higher education opportunities.

The University of Limerick’s PMI-GAC accredited Online Masters in Project & Programme Management strengthens both project and programme management expertise through an immersive, collaborative, virtual learning environment with a focus on practical, skills-based learning.

As well as deepening project management knowledge, this world-class qualification provides the expertise required to lead large-scale projects and to work across all industries.

class of masters in project and programme management

Deepening your project and programme management expertise will widen your career opportunities and can significantly increase your earning power.
For those looking to extend their skills through further education, the University of Limerick’s MSc in Project & Programme Management is delivered 100% online. This flexible course will help to establish cross-industry project management capabilities and develop wider strategic skills on a global, multi-sector scale.

Download the course brochure to find out more or apply online.

About the author:
Dr. John Lannon is Course Director of the Online Masters in Project and Programme Management, teaching various Knowledge and Information Management components on the programme. John has taught at several universities in Europe, Africa and Asia before joining the Centre for Project Management at the University of Limerick, as well as working for over 15 years in project management and systems development in the I.T. sector.

He is a worldwide expert in the field of project management, publishing articles in the International Journal of Project Management and contributing to various books, journals, reports and conference publications.


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