Get a Project Manager

Finding the Right Project Manager

“This is perhaps your most important early decision.  If you are like most leaders, you already have a full plate and now there are suddenly a host of new tasks and responsibilities.  A large [..] project budget should include a competitive salary line for a manager so you can hire the best person possible. Depending on your institution and funding source, you may have other administrative staff positions to fill -- and the right project manager can help you fill them. This person must share your vision for the project, have a workstyle that is compatible with yours and those of your project leadership team members and partners.

“Passion for the project is desirable, but project management skills are essential.  Key attributes include writing and communication abilities, an eye for detail, and a head for numbers.   People from many different disciplinary backgrounds can make wonderful project managers, including people coming from industry or government with experience managing large, complex teams.  If you hire someone from outside academia, remember that universities have an unusual system of incentives and rewards that you and your project manager will need to leverage for both administrative effectiveness and operational success.”

From page 12 of Richard, T., Mercado, L., & Goodwin, P. “Molding your Team,”in Eigenbrode, S. D., Martin, T., Wright Morton, L., Colletti, J., Goodwin, P., Gustafson, R., Hawthorne, D., Johnson, A., Klien, J. T., Pearl. S., Richard, T., and Wolcott, M. (2017) Leading large transdisciplinary projects addressing social-ecological systems:  A primer for project directors. 

Edited by Emily Smudde.  Transcribed here by J. S. Olson.  I deleted “SES” in front of projects throughout because the advice given extends well beyond social-ecological systems to other kinds of multi-disciplinary projects.

The whole handbook is here:  https://nifa.usda.gov/leading-transdisciplinary-projects