Metal Toad Project Manager Profile: Katie Pitello

As part of our project manager application process, we ask applicants to respond to a number of questions about themselves focused on their approach and philosophy when it comes to project management. Adam kicked it off with his profile and turned it over to me. Please find my thoughts on Project Management below. We'd love to hear yours!

What makes a stellar digital PM?

This is a tough question; I don't think it's just one quality that makes a stellar PM. You'd have to start with dedication to the trade. In this case that's the digital space. Learning and growing are second nature in this industry; you have to have a passion for change and the digital space. Second, good eye for detail is important. That ability helps negotiate accurate estimates, catch errors in QA, and ensures delivering what the client expected. Finally, it's important to show dedication to your team and maintain the ability to protect them from client distractions to mitigate potential losses in productivity.

What was your path to becoming a project manager?

I’ve always been crazy organized; my mom was the master of lists, and I picked that up. After a stint as an art major, I realized I love being around creatives and builders, but building and creating weren't my strongest suits. Project management seemed the natural path.

What do you love about being a project manager?

Honestly, I love building cool stuff. I'm not much of a builder (or designer for that matter) so this is the next best option.

What is the best piece of advice you can offer to a new digital PM?

Take it one day at a time. In the beginning, the new role brings technology/process/information overload. If you take it one day at a time and celebrate your achievements (however small), it can help manage that overwhelming feeling.

What has been your biggest challenge as a digital PM?

It’s tough to isolate my biggest challenge... but I think it would revolve around the team aspect. Coming from a varied agency background, I’m used to more of a team environment. That’s not to say I don’t have it now, it’s just different. Developers don’t need to rely on feedback as often as creatives or AM’s do; they’re more independent by nature and typically more introverted. I’ve been forced to find new ways to connect with my teammates and build a team without feeling like I’m annoying them. Building a team, connecting and finding ways to motivate the team while still feeling like there’s a place for everyone, including me, has been the biggest challenge for me as a digital pm.

What is the one tool you can’t live without at work? Why?

It sounds old school, especially in the digital world, but I can’t live without paper and pen. The act of physically writing something down helps me commit it to memory and crossing things off my list is truly satisfying.

How do you succeed at managing projects where you’re unfamiliar with the technologies being used?

I tend to do best when I jump head first into the deep end; it’s the best way for me to understand anything including new technologies. I prefer to play with and interact with a technology to better understand them. Once I’m knee deep in the new technology, I then ask a ton of questions to help understand better. That’s been my plan of understanding for years and has been proven to work best.

What’s the most important thing you must do to manage and motivate humans successfully?

Connect with them. That’s my key to everything; it’s how I manage others and the best way to motivate me. I’ve found that my team is willing to do more, stay motivated making managing them much easier when I simply take time to connect with them.

How do you recover from a bad day?

Typically I run to clear my head after a bad day. Running, in combination with a good playlist, helps me calm down and get it out of my system.

Do you have any reading or listening recommendations that serve to inspire or inform digital project managers?

My love of technology goes further than project management. I love reading Wired and learning about what could, and likely will, happen in the digital space. That, combined with Reddit, are my favorite references for inspiration.

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