Lemax is a place where people come to make a difference and grow their careers. Here’s the story of Karmen, our Project Portfolio Manager.
1. What do you do at Lemax?
My role in Lemax is that of a Project Portfolio Manager. The role consists of 2 major parts: supervision of all the projects in Lemax, guidance for the project managers, and making sure that all projects are delivered on time, within budget, and in scope. The second part is setting standards of project management in Lemax – improving the PM practices in Lemax through workshops.
My mission is to increase the PM knowledge and skills across the entire organization, setting processes for collaboration within my own and between different departments.
2. What did you do before Lemax?
I’ve been at Lemax for a little more than a year, and before that, I was a project and product manager for the last 8 years in the telecom sector. Project management was something that I was always interested in, but the real breakthrough was when I decided to get formally certified for the PMP, which propelled my career.
After working in corporations for many years, I’m happy to see that everyone is invited to participate in changes, they all accept it and love being part of it.
3. What was your role before this one and how did the career upgrade happen?
Before I became a portfolio manager, I was a project manager at Lemax. I’ve always been curious about strategic and high-level perspectives. I like setting standards and improving processes, thinking about things from a high-level, long-term perspective. At one point, we realized that we needed a role to supervise all the projects which were becoming more and more complex, to standardize the procedures, and establish metrics. We wanted to ensure that team leaders could focus more on leading people and not worry so much about projects. That’s how my role was born.
4. What do you love most about your job?
Diversity of teams and tasks. In one day, I work on five totally different subjects. No matter how much you plan, in PM you have to know how to deal with changes that you cannot predict. You never know what’s coming tomorrow. Every project is different. And the most fascinating thing at Lemax is the speed of changes. After working in corporations for many years, I’m happy to see that everyone is invited to participate in changes, they all accept it and love being part of it. People are cooperative and open to suggestions and feedback. They’re not rigidly stuck in their ways.
5. Where do you see you have grown the most as a professional and a person during your career in Lemax?
I think the key to my growth was the fact that my manager included me immediately from day one in strategic topics and changes. I’ve realized how much I can contribute and learned how to transfer the company’s strategic goals into concrete action steps.
I’ve been given a chance to change the existing PM processes, create new ones from scratch, and I even started a PMA academy – an internal education program for those who want to improve their PM skills.
6. Give us a book recommendation – a book that has changed your career or life.
The last book I’ve read is Eat that frog by Brian Tracy. I’m fascinated by how in simple terms the book highlights something we all already know, and that is how much you can accomplish by maintaining your focus every day on what’s important. We tend to postpone doing what’s hard, but necessary (i.e. eating the frog :)), so the frog just keeps on growing.
7. Who is your role model and why?
I don’t really have one role model, as my motto is: you can learn something from anyone. You just need to be open and curious, and you can learn a lot from any person. That person doesn’t have to be your boss; it can be your colleagues, your subordinates… I’ve learned so much from the people I work with at Lemax who are also curious and willing to learn. There is a lot of encouragement here to learn and grow (through feedback, retrospectives); it’s kind of in our DNA, it’s part of the culture. Also, I learn every day from my kid 🙂
8. What is Karmen like in her free time?
I love analog, black&white photography, and that’s been my passion for years. I used to hold photography lessons for a long time. I even held a photography course at FER university and one of the participants was a person who is my colleague today here at Lemax :). Besides that, I spend a lot of time playing with my 2.5-year-old daughter and cooking. The two of us like making cakes in the kitchen and creating a mess, which we then leave for the dad to clean 🙂