I Survived an Ax-wielding PMO Director


Kenny Louie - Ahhhhh!!!
Many years ago in a long lost time there was a Fortune 500 company hiring project managers. The U.S. economy had tanked and not many companies were hiring at all, so it was exciting to get hired by anyone. I wasn’t a project manager but provided the technical support for Microsoft Project, Project Server and project management support for the project management office (PMO) and felt fortunate to find work supporting Project Server.

It was a typical hiring process: The headhunter found you a position, set up the interview, and everyone would act nice and say good things about the company. However, the real horror with this company is that each month they would hire two new project managers and after getting them up to speed, the company would then fire two project managers.

Was I imagining this? Nobody really told me truth when I came on board. Sadly, they could do this because jobs were so scarce.

The first month I was there, I heard that two project managers got laid off. Hmm. I thought it was strange because from what I could tell, the two people who were fired were doing a good job.

Next month two new project managers were hired and put through the PMO orientation. At the end of the month, two more competent project managers were fired.

This nightmare was real. The PMO director was doing this every month. All the project managers knew what was going on, but worked their butts off in hopes of not being fired next.

This continued for a whole year, and fortunately for me, I found another contract and was able to escape.

The company is still around. But the economy improved and after a while word got out in the PM community not to leave your job for this place. Lesson learned: Talk to people who work at the company outside of the building and try to find out the real reason they’re hiring.

Photo courtesy of Kenny Louie

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Written by Michael Wharton
MVP, MBA, PMP, MCT, MCTS, MCITP, MCSD, MCSE+I, MCDBA. Michael Wharton is a Project/SharePoint Consultant and Trainer. Michael’s career started as a software developer before moving into project management. His passion to improve project management processes began in 2003 using tools like Project Professional and Server. Since then he has trained hundreds of project managers and implemented Project Server in over twenty-five PMOs. He has passed over forty Microsoft certification exams giving him a solid technical background with Project and SharePoint Server. Michael is active in the community. He is the past President-Elect and past Director of Programs for the NC Piedmont PMI, board member of the Triad SQL Server User Group, Triad Developers Guild and Enterprise Architect Roundtable. He is currently writing a book about implementing Portfolio Management using Project Server 2013.
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