Welcome to another episode of Mediaan’s „The life of…“ series! A place where experts from Mediaan talk about their career journey, their role within Mediaan, and their tips & tricks. This time, we put our Senior IT Project Manager Shireen Teufel in the spotlight. Are you curious about the story of the former FC Bayern player and her tips to become a good IT Project Manager? Wait no more and let’s dive into the interview!
1. Could you please introduce yourself?
My name is Shireen Teufel, and I am 30 years old. I live together with my fiancée Nicole on the city’s outskirts in the green countryside of Munich. I have been working at Mediaan Germany for almost four years now, as a Senior Consultant for IT transformation projects and an IT Project Manager. Besides that, I am also a member of the product development team at Mediaan.
2. Why Mediaan?
I like the feeling of togetherness within Mediaan. Despite having offices in Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium, it is easy to get along with colleagues from different backgrounds and cultures. We have this open and cordial culture. The team is awesome! Everyone is an expert in their field and likes to share their knowledge with others. We are like one big family; people know each other and appreciate one another. There is a right balance between working seriously on projects and having fun moments at work.
3. What made you decide to become an IT Project Manager?
As a Senior Consultant at Mediaan, I am specialized in project management (agile/classic). It wasn’t my initial goal to become an IT Project Manager, but rather my strengths and competencies that have carried me into this role. I have always had a strong interest in technology, finance, business strategies, the economy, and people. Furthermore, I have a former career background as a developer and a creative director, so all of these have led me to my current position at Mediaan today.
4. What do you like the most about your job?
I have to say it’s the people. I love working with different characters and personalities. I also enjoy working with people on projects to create solutions that generate value and make a certain contribution. I think it is the project trip that motivates me every time. Analyzing challenges, mastering them, going through different challenging phases in projects, and jointly generating success in the company and the teams that systemically create added value. For their customers, for their users, for their suppliers and partners.
5. Can you tell us a bit more about your role as an IT Project Manager?
In my role as an IT Project Manager, I have a central role in the project and at the customer’s site, and I am also the first point of contact for all parties. My tasks include project management and attending regular meetings with stakeholders and management. My other tasks include creating project plans, business cases, phase plans, and roadmaps in combination with working parallel in teams. In addition to that, I am also responsible for the development of new operating models and the establishment of agile organizational units, combined with change management projects. Last but not least are working on the personal and knowledge development of the teams and the promotion of individual young consultants on my task list.
6. We heard you used to be a pro football player at FC Bayern München. Do you see a link between playing football on a high level & working as a Project Manager?
Yes, I used to play for the women’s football team at FC Bayern München. There are many parallel aspects between competitive sports and my profession. As a competitive athlete, you have to be prepared to work on yourself every day. Diligence, discipline, and willpower are elementary qualities that often lead to success.
Even after the training, I still did free kicks, dribblings, or individual training to achieve an even better technique and physique. The same goes for my job now; I continuously try to develop and improve my skills every day.
Particularly in women’s soccer, many players have attended school, completed an apprenticeship, or even have regular jobs in addition to the strict training plan (often, we had 3 training sessions a day). This requires good time management, which is now very much to my advantage in my job and makes my daily work much more manageable.
With soccer, I also learned to be a good team player. It was important to have a functioning team with different characters. Team captains had to be able to motivate the team, and only together could you be successful. I see these parallel aspects a lot in my job as a consultant. Working in the field of IT means that you have to be able to work agile. Developers, designers, consultants, and management all have their way of working and thinking. Only by working together they can lead the project to success.
7. What are the soft skills and hard skills you need, to become a good IT Project Manager?
To become a good IT Project Manager, I think it is important to have a strong foundation as a consultant because it is more approachable to advance from that point. I am not saying that a non-consultant background is unsuitable, but in that case, you’ll need to have extensive project experience.
In general, I would put my faith in these competencies: communication (moderation and coaching skills), leadership, and flexibility. Ideally, you are familiar with methodologies like Scaled Agile or other agile approaches like Scrum, Kanban, or Design Thinking. It is also essential to have good presentation techniques and a certain quick-wittedness. Of course, in-depth knowledge of the respective technological areas and having different industry experience is beneficial.
8. How has the IT Project Manager role changed in recent years?
The markets have become much more dynamic. There are several factors for this, like external drivers (regulators) or the struggle for companies to simplify digital processes that were still operated manually or analogously in the past.
Digitization also plays a role, examples are the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. Another factor is customer behavior. As an IT Project Manager, I believe it is essential to be continuously up to date on the new and changing topics, so that companies don’t miss out on these future opportunities. Of course, it also requires a little bit of hard work and discipline. For example, I like reading articles or listening to podcasts – almost every day.
9. What is the most common misconception people have about an IT Project Manager?
People often think that IT Project Managers have a very simple and easy task in projects. That simply isn’t true. I can honestly say that we also have some moments in projects where we don’t see the path in the darkness. However, I think it is precisely at these moments that it is crucial to move forward in the project. To hold up the lantern and get back on the right track with your team.
10. How can a company attract a good IT Project Manager?
To me personally, it is always exciting to create added value in a project. Something from which companies, society, or users can generate a benefit for themselves and others. So I would say that companies should make sure that their employees get to work in an environment that allows them to enjoy working, and doing what they truly good at, and making a real difference. Ensuring that their expertise is used to create something that serves a purpose and creates a result — a value.
11. What advice do you have for junior/future IT Project Managers?
Speaking from the IT Project Manager’s perspective, I would recommend the following: know your project, know your numbers, and know your stakeholders! My advice is to stay humble, concentrate on the opportunities you meet along the journey. Be open, be smart, and be kind! Let others speak out, be polite and friendly. Always dress professionally. Pick out topics that you enjoy. Build a network on social media platforms right from the start. Follow trends and other companies. Try to write articles, present your project internally. Learn to speak in front of others. And don’t forget to have fun at your job! The most important thing is to love what you do. And to do that with enthusiasm, you will infect others with positive energy as well!