A new role has recently been created in our organisation. For a few months now, Project Officers have been walking the company's hallways. But what is the role of a Project Officer at EASI?
To help us see more clearly, I asked our three pioneers, Maria-Isabella, Saar and Florence to tell me a little more about their job.
What does a typical Project Officer's day look like?
"The tasks vary so much from day to day that I think we should talk about a typical week or even a typical month. That's one of the things I like about my job: no two weeks are the same".
"As far as the content of the tasks is concerned, the Project Officers are responsible for monitoring the budget and the projects and offering support to clients when necessary".
"The job hasn't been around for long. When I first started, I even had a little trouble explaining clearly to my friends and family what my job was all about. I felt like I was giving them a different explanation each time. Today, even if some points still need to be clarified, the content of our profession is gradually becoming more concrete".
"If I had to sum up our function in one sentence, I would say that our role is to relieve the consultants of organizational tasks so that they can concentrate more on the technical aspects of the project. On a day-to-day basis, our role is also to provide the team with a bird's eye view and give visibility of everything that is going on within a project".
"The Project Officer is there to give impetus and rhythm to the projects in which he is involved. He must organize the tasks that need to be carried out and ensure that deadlines and budgets are respected. The Project Officer will also have to ensure that the tasks are well distributed between the consultants active in a project".
"I've been a Project Officer for a little longer than Florence and Saar, so my tasks have evolved somewhat. Today I am also coaching the new Project Officers who come to reinforce our teams".
What do you like about being a Project Officer?
"For me, it's the organization and coordination of projects, contact with clients and collaboration between the different teams. But what I like most of all is that we are given the opportunity to be immediately confronted with large-scale projects. It's very rewarding professionally, and it allows us to quickly accumulate a lot of experience".
"Of course, I appreciate all the elements that revolve around project management, but what impressed me most when I started my job was the mindset prevailing at EASI. Every colleague feels pulled upwards by the mutual support and energy that is generated everyday.
"I started my role as Project Officer just before the lockdown. So I had to learn my job remotely. However, I never felt abandoned. The support and solidarity of all my colleagues was extraordinary throughout this challenging period."
What challenges does a Project Officer face?
"I think the biggest challenge when you start as a Project Officer is having to sometimes manage heated discussions with difficult clients. For example, when it comes to invoicing. What also sometimes can be a problem is the lack of technical knowledge, especially at the beginning. When you're dealing with clients without product knowledge, it can be hard to know how you can best assist them. Fortunately, with experience you better know how to react and assist our clients accordingly."
"I agree with what Florence says. For me, the most challenging thing about starting in a Project Officer position is the lack of functional knowledge. I had to build up my knowledge little by little. It's hard to build a planning and manage a project properly without proper technical knowledge. It's a real challenge! But, only after a few months of experience, things start to go more smoothly. You can better estimate the time a task will take, for instance."
"I love that we receive a lot of training to help us grow in our job. For example, I had the opportunity to attend the Adfinity school and Project Officers also could take specific accounting courses. This allows us to better identify where the problem lies and helps find a solution more quickly when discussing issues with clients."
"I agree with Saar and Florence. A Project Officer has to be able to understand the needs of a client when they come to us, while not necessarily having sufficient technical knowledge. That is why we receive training."
How do you see the function evolving?
"What I find exciting is that the content of the job is still under construction. The boundary between the tasks of Project Officers and consultants has not yet been drawn. The fact that the roles have not yet been fully defined leaves us a lot of room for manoeuvre. I think that a Project Officer will always have a clear focus on project management, even if he can always envisage, as he evolves, having a more team- or project management oriented focus."
"The function has just been created, so it's hard to say today how it will evolve. On the other hand, as you gain experience, different elements are added to your responsibilities. For example, managing a team and/or coaching new Project Officers."
What are the qualities of a Project Officer?
"It takes a certain level of assertiveness to sometimes manage difficult or demanding clients. There is also no need to be afraid of not having all the technical knowledge, especially at the beginning. Personally, that's something that made me hesitate a lot before I took the job. Fortunately, the training we are offered and the help we receive from our colleagues on a daily basis allow us to carry out our job without any problems. In addition, I have also noticed that communication and organizational skills are just as important as technical knowledge".
"I agree with what Saar says. Excellent written and oral communication skills are paramount in our job. For example, when we have to pass on a difficult invoice to one of our client. Of course, a Project Officer also has to be organized, although this is a quality he can learn as he goes along."
"Each profile has skills that can make him or her successful as a Project Officer. Organizational capacity is important, but it is not everything. What is important is the diversity of profiles within a team."
"If you love client contact but still have some work to do in terms of organization, why not opt for a career as a Project Officer at EASI?"