Project Management Team
Role: Project Manager
(Job title: Programme Manager)
It’s my job to smooth the path, so the researchers can do their jobs, and to make sure we deliver what we promised to the people who fund our research projects. This involves a combination of listening, thinking, and problem-solving skills – and especially, the ability to bridge gaps.
A Project Manager needs to understand enough about the science to understand what needs to be done, and enough about “the rest of the world” to make sure we can do it. Often, this involves being a translator, to help people communicate when they come from different backgrounds.
For example: imagine a project to build a computer tool, which can tell doctors which antibiotics to prescribe to a patient. When a software engineer says the tool is “tested”, she might mean “the software works work without breaking”. But a clinical doctor might think “tested” means “the software produces the correct answer.” Other people in the project might be concerned with cyber security, or how easy it is to collect samples, or whether hospitals can afford it. It’s my job to help work out what success actually means, see what is possible with the resources available, and help get everyone to agree the path forward. Then: follow up, to see that we stick to it. In MMM group, we have a lot of projects happening all at once, so I also help to balance the competing priorities. Can we afford new lab equipment? Which data shall we analyse first?
On a typical day, I might touch on research ethics, financial accounting, contractual negotiation, networking, employment law and even Public Relations. Sometimes I get to think about the big picture and long-term strategy, and other times I get down in the weeds to solve a problem that is stopping someone from getting their job done right now.
If you enjoy getting to know people, and finding solutions for the problem in front of you – while keeping an eye on the long-term goal – this might be a career for you. To get started, you might build a portfolio of getting things done on time and under budget (e.g. organising a group trip, running a volunteer session, or setting up a club night). Knowing about science might help, but it is not necessary: I studied International Relations!
I manage research projects and budgets, and line manage several people within the MMM group. I am responsible for the Oxford HPRU in HCAI & AMR and part of the BRC in AMR & Modernising Microbiology. My role involves communicating with a wide variety of people within and outside of Oxford University to ensure project goals are being met.