Today’s Tech Role Model is Lindsay Hinman. Currently, Lindsay blends her technical acumen with her strong communication skills as a Senior Project Manager at Sabre, a travel technology company. Earlier in her career, Lindsay coordinated events and managed internal projects at different firms. Once she got a taste of managing a digital project from end-to-end, she was hooked on building products.
What’s your official title and how long have you been in this role?
I’m a Senior Project Manager on the Digital Experience team. I started at Sabre in early 2017 as a Project Manager and transitioned into the Senior role about four months ago.
What attracted you to this project manager role?
Ever since I led my first website redesign project in 2014, I was hungry for a role that allowed me to lead digital initiatives year-round. This opportunity promised (and delivered) a fast-paced environment with plenty of potential to learn and grow.
Walk me through a typical day in your role. What activities do you engage in? What types of meetings do you join? When’s lunch?
Meetings are pretty frequent. You can typically find me in stand-up meetings, weekly client check-ins, or internal planning sessions.
I also spend a good amount of time helping scope out new projects, evaluating client requests for enhancements, and performing iterative quality assurance testing. Outside of project-specific responsibilities, I focus on internal process improvement. Our team is very receptive to new ideas and ways we can work more efficiently.
Lunch is flexible. While it can be hard to step away sometimes, I usually take a break from screen time and go for a stroll.
What skills/technologies help you succeed?
I rely most on my communication skills in this role. It’s important to adjust communication styles based on the variety of audiences I speak with on the regular. For example, if the development team brings me a technical recommendation, I need to distill it into a more digestible summary for clients, while making sure nothing gets lost in translation.
Tech-wise, the tools can vary based on the type of project, but being well-versed in Jira can be a huge time-saver. Creating custom queries and dashboards can give a quick snapshot of project progress without having to scroll through an endless Kanban board.
What’s the most fun or creative part of your project manager role?
I get really energized by requirements-gathering sessions and design review meetings. I’m enthusiastic about mapping out detailed pieces of functionality and achieving consensus among technical experts and clients alike. It’s exciting to build a razor-sharp vision of the finished product.
Also — QA! Finding and reporting bugs is a dream for a self-proclaimed pedant like myself.
What are the biggest challenges you face in this role?
Managing expectations among a variety of stakeholders is a common area for pitfalls; it can be challenging to ensure alignment on every detail of every project, but it’s critical in ensuring the client receives the products they expect. Documentation is clutch.
I think PMs can also struggle with time management, especially when overseeing a lot of initiatives simultaneously. It can be difficult to find blocks of time for focused tasks like QA among the sea of meetings and other tasks. I have a pretty robust priorities document for this reason.
What teams/individuals do you work with cross-functionally? Can you give an example of a time when you collaborated with another group/individual?
Collaborating with designers, front-end developers, back-end developers, and QA engineers is a huge part of my job. I work closely with our design team to bring the project vision to life while staying true to the client’s brand. I rely on our technical experts to assess the level of effort of client requests, confirm the best approach for those requests, and evaluate designs to ensure a seamless UX.
I also collaborate with account managers to gain a broader understanding of client priorities. This helps inform my client communications.
What’s an area where you’re trying to grow in your project manager role?
I find it rewarding to collaborate with my fellow PMs and help them brainstorm solutions to creative problems, so I’m aiming to level-up my supervisory skills.
Also, there’s always more to learn in terms of code; I use our biweekly demos to soak up some technical knowledge from our scrum teams.
Aside from technical skills, what personality traits/characteristics make for an ideal candidate in your role?
The ability to keep calm under pressure. A common mantra among my team is “don’t pass the panic.” If something goes wrong on a client’s site and they are (understandably) anxious to have it resolved, there’s a way to communicate that sense of urgency without compounding everyone’s stress.
Additionally, curiosity is an important trait. Don’t hold back on asking questions. It’s good to get into the minutiae of business requirements and technical requirements to ensure the project runs smoothly.
What skills (tech/non-tech) have you improved as a result of working in this project manager role?
My technical knowledge has grown exponentially since starting at Sabre; I’ve expanded my expertise particularly in content management systems (including a custom CMS) and in QA metrics like WCAG. I’ve also further honed my skills in project management tools; I consult a variety of platforms to craft and maintain my iterative plans across the roadmap.
In terms of soft skills, I’ve gained substantial experience in client services overall, including handling difficult conversations with tact. I’m also much more comfortable with managing conflicting viewpoints and finding common ground among stakeholders with seemingly disparate priorities.
In your role, what metrics define success?
Put simply: Meeting deadlines. This requires a thorough understanding of the project’s scope and dependencies in order to map out an efficient and realistic project plan. Consulting with technical leads early and often is key. While I don’t need to know how to write code, I do need to “speak the language” enough to ask the right questions.
A more subjective measure is client satisfaction. It’s critical to know the client’s brand inside and out, especially when it comes to making pivotal decisions during the course of the project.
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