Friday, July 19, 2013

PW&WCBA Speaker Spotlight: Paula Bell

In our new Project World and World Congress for Business Analysts 2013 Speaker Spotlight series, Paula Bell, Business Analyst Coach, Mentor, Speaker, and Author recently sat down with us to discuss what it takes to be a great project manager and business analyst in an environment that is growing increasingly competitive every day.

IIR: How do you, as a project manager or business analyst, stand out in a crowd in this competitive business world?

Bell: In order to stand out as a project manager or business analyst you have to stay up on the skills that are trending in the industry.  Even if you may not practice some of the methodologies or skills that are topics having the knowledge of what those methodologies/topics are is key. 

Also, share your knowledge.  You can do this by writing articles for trade magazines in your discipline or even starting blogs.  Just by sharing your knowledge you will be known.  Continue to sharpen your craft and be the best project manager or business analyst you can be.

IIR: What are characteristics of a GREAT project manager?

Bell: Some characteristics of a GREAT project manager are integrity, respect, interpersonal skills such as relationships building, communication (written and verbal), negotiation skills, problem solving, critical thinking, thinking outside of the box, influencing and helping others make decisions. 
The foundational skills of a GREAT project manager is more soft skills than technical skills.  If you cannot build the relationships and gain credibility and trust you will not be successful. This is for the business analyst role as well.

IIR: What are some tips you would suggest to someone who is just learning Agile?

Bell: Mentor with someone who has done it successfully and learn from their challenges and successes.  There is so much more knowledge out there now that I would recommend to learn from that knowledge.

IIR: How do you as a project manager or business analyst build leadership skills?

Bell: You build those skills by doing them.  Take on a leadership role on a board or in the community to help build out those skills if there aren’t opportunities within your organization.  Take training classes on leadership and do a lot of introspection on yourself. 

You must lead yourself before you can lead anyone else.  In order to lead yourself you must know yourself.  In order to know yourself you must analyze yourself.  Take the time to develop yourself in this area.  Get out of your comfortable and take on different challenges in a leadership role.  All of these things will build up your leadership skills. 

IIR: How does a successful project manager communicate?

Bell: Honestly.  Not matter the circumstance always be honest whether good new or bad news.  Support your team and communicate with them frequently.  Do more listening than talking, understand all sides and think before you speak.  This all goes back to building and maintaining relationships and communication is key in that.

Stay tuned for upcoming expert interviews right here on the PW&WCBA Blog.  

Bell is a speaker at the annual PW&WCBA 2013in Orlando, FL in September.

Amanda Ciccatelli, Social Media Strategist at IIR USA in New York City, has a background in digital and print journalism, covering a variety of topics in business strategy, marketing, and technology. She previously worked at Technology Marketing Corporation as a Web Editor where she covered breaking news and feature stories in the tech industry.  She can be reached at Follow her at @AmandaCicc. 
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