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What’s it like to be a project manager in eCommerce?

Care to share?

Anna Korczak and Bartłomiej Loc are both project managers at Divante, but their paths and backgrounds couldn’t be more different.

Anna is an English language graduate, but she has never worked as a teacher. Instead, she worked in various companies, mainly on the customer-supplier line. That is until a friend told her that her skills might be good for project management. So, she started learning programming languages and found herself a mentor. She went through serious preparation, but it was worth it. She landed her first job as a PM in a small software house where she spent two years.

“Working in a software house was great. The atmosphere was very cozy and familiar. But it’s there I began to understand how many things I still don't know about being a project manager. When I started working at Divante almost two years ago, I soon realized it's a completely different player than a software house. eCommerce is much more dynamic. It has a lot going on and a lot of clients and projects. The work is more complex. Every day we face different requirements and customer needs, but they come with spectacular learning opportunities.”

Anna Korczak, Project Manager

Bartłomiej, on the other hand, graduated from Project Management at the University of Economics in Wrocław. His family was quite familiar with the IT industry, so he chose this course because he knew what the work was like.

“My first job was an internship in a manufacturing company. I worked in the change management and lean project management departments, but after a year, I realized that it wasn't for me. I wanted to be connected to business more. So, I started looking for eCommerce jobs because I knew it would give me more opportunities to work closely with clients. I applied to Divante and was hired as a Junior PM in the eCommerce solutions department. My expectations were met 100% and more. Now, my daily responsibility influences the way our clients work. It is cool to have a real impact on how others do and what is happening in their companies.”

Bartłomiej Loc, Project Manager

All roads lead to project management

Changing industries is not a bad thing in the job market at all. You acquire valuable and diverse experience. Meanwhile, you can learn a lot from online courses and get globally recognized certificates that can help you land a job where you can perform your best.

“I’ve finished many courses that prepared me for this role, such as ISTQB and IT Project Management. I also have a Scrum Master certificate. I've been preparing for this role for some time. I was motivated by my friends, their opinions, and their experiences. I knew what this industry looks like. I'm a born entrepreneur, and I’ve always liked business-related topics. From an early age, I knew that I wanted to go in this direction. In my previous job at the production company, I had a strictly technical role. I had no contact with the business. I knew that I would cooperate with businesses a lot in IT, especially in eCommerce. I read a lot about the business world, the management zone, business psychology, and how to manage organizations. Even though I haven't worked in eCommerce before, I knew I could handle it.” - Bartłomiej

Lack of technical knowledge, such as programming, doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t do well as a PM.

“Every person with an education in the humanities has the opportunity to find themself in project management. I started my PM education with books, mainly from Marcin Żmigrodzki, who recently published an update of his book on project management. Another good author is Krystian Kaczor, who writes about Scrum. I also recommend scrum.org and the Scrum Master course. If you feel that this is the world for you, just as I had that feeling, you should follow that path. Don’t be discouraged by your application getting rejected because determination is rewarded with effort. It’s the relationships and good communication that are crucial here. The technical part is also important, but you can always learn and catch up. Most of all, you need to know how to build relationships and make sure that the client has chemistry with the team.” - Anna Korczak

It isn’t easy, but it’s worth it!

Being a PM isn’t easy, especially in IT. You need a very broad scope of expertise. You need some technology-related knowledge, to know the business, and be an expert on empathy. A PM is the first point of support for the dev team. 

“The psychological aspect of this role is extremely important. A PM should take care of the team from the psychological side, support them, and show empathy. We work with testers and developers, but we should look at people as people and not as robots that produce software. The ability to see from the perspective of another person is crucial. You need to fight for the team so that they know they are taken care of.” - Bartłomiej

A good PM, especially in an eCommerce company, is a versatile and dynamic person. If you enjoy a fast pace at work, it’s a good path for you.

“The projects here are shorter than in a software house, and we build more end products. Every client is different, and getting to know the specifics of the business and their needs gives me such drive. We need to know the client's goal and need to be able to explain to the team what the project is about and what its goal is. It’s a very dynamic environment, which I love!” - Anna

Everyday work

Both Anna and Bartłomiej admit that every working day is different from the next one. It’s never boring in an eCommerce company.

“For me, each working day is an adventure, and each looks different. I haven’t experienced routine at Divante so far because each day brings new challenges. There are, of course, some repetitive elements, like meetings and planning. Every week clients get some new functionality that raises new questions and ideas. You have to solve these challenges on a regular basis, and that makes the day interesting.” - Bartłomiej

“Around 7 a.m. I sit down and schedule my day.  I look at priorities and make a to-do list. Then I start my morning meetings with the dev team.  I also have talks with the clients to discuss the next steps. I make sure that action points are created after every meeting. I finish with planning for the next day. A project manager, first and foremost, needs to manage their time well in order to manage others.” - Anna

A method to the madness

Project managers need to be organized. For that, they need tools and methods that work best for them, their teams, and clients. 

“We follow the Scrum framework. Our day, depending on the project, starts with a daily standup. We have planning meetings once every two weeks, retrospectives, and product refinement meetings. We guide our clients through that process, and we help them understand eCommerce. It’s an important part of my working day.” - Bartłomiej

“As you might expect, we use the Atlassian suite, which includes Jira and Confluence. They are also available for our clients. They make the work easier, and at every moment of the day, we know exactly which stage the project is in. We use Slack for communication with the team and the client and organize cyclical meetings. We also host more informal coffee meetings with the team to get to know each other and build trust.” - Anna

Constant learning

All professions inside the IT world should be continuously learning, and the same can be said about project managers. Working in an eCommerce company gives you plenty of opportunities to increase your knowledge and broaden your experience.

“A PM has several roles in the team, and that is why I keep learning. In order to understand the technical side more, I participate in training on technology and follow industry trends. As a PM, I need to build customer relationship competencies as well as problem-solving skills. These last ones are, in my opinion, one of the most important skills for a PM. Both the client and the team have challenges that need to be met, and the PM is in between trying to understand the client's and team’s perspectives. Another important aspect is psychology, like empathy, emotional intelligence, and how people approach life. I read books and magazines on psychology, such as “Charaktery.” It gives me a lot of insight.” - Bartłomiej

Some of the PM-related skills might surprise you.

“After hours, I'm a fan of mixed martial arts, and the sport taught me a lot about planning. Martial arts are a bit like playing chess. You need strategic planning and to create sequences. Some things also repeat themselves. It comes in handy at work. Of course, I also participate in industry meetups. I'm interested in technological innovations. As a team, we analyze what will be trending in the near future so we can catch up quickly and propose new solutions to clients.” - Anna

All that knowledge and continuous learning pay off when you face challenges. A PM's work is not short of them.

“A project manager is a team member. He or she should be a person who supports the entire team in difficult times, is involved in every step, and removes impediments.
A good PM is a leader, not a boss and not someone who tells others what to do. A good leader walks hand in hand with the team.” - Bartłomiej

Why eCommerce?

Both Anna and Bartłomiej joined Divante after different voyages and for different reasons. For Anna, working in eCommerce is a major opportunity to learn and develop her career. Bartłomiej, as a natural entrepreneur, enjoys working closely with the client and being involved with the business side.

As you can see, eCommerce gives a lot of different opportunities to project managers. If you think eCommerce is a good fit for you and you’re up for the challenges of a project manager, be sure to check out our current openings.


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Published July 14, 2021