Interview with Shawn Futterer

Filed under Interviews | Posted by PMStudent

sfuttererShawn Futterer is a certified project management professional with a broad range of experience. He started his career in 1992 managing quality control projects for a small manufacturing company and has worked on projects in a variety of industries including Healthcare, Education, Construction, Retail and more. Shawn currently works in a PMO for a Fortune 50 Telecom company where he supervises a team of project managers. Over the course of his career, Shawn has managed projects of all shapes and sizes with budgets both large and small. Shawn has a keen interest in the methodologies, strategy, planning and operations. He has over fifteen years of hands-on project management experience and has led, consulted on or contributed to: process development efforts, various methodologies and multiple training programs. Shawn attributes a project managers success to their ability to provide a strategic view and a demonstrated ability to interact and communicate effectively with all levels of an organization. Shawn is also the founder and managing director of the International Community for Project Managers. Find out more about the ICPM at

joshnankivel Josh: Thank you so much for sharing your background and experience with the pmStudent community Shawn! How did you get your start in Project Management?

shawn-futtererShawn: I started in a small manufacturing company supervising quality control projects. This set the ground work for developing the skills I needed such as attention to detail, time management, schedule management and more. Later I found myself in a project support role for a fortune 100 company. My duties were more of a coordinator than that a PM. I performed this role for roughly 2 years before accepting a promotion to ?project manager?. I functioned as a project manager for about 5 years learning our methodology inside and out, apply and developing best practices and learning from others. During that time I became a consistent top performer. Next I accepted a promotion to supervise a team of project managers. In this role I revised out of date policies, enhanced best practices and developed additional methodology strategies focused on scalability and performance that benefit both the individual PM and the overall organization.

My advice to anyone just starting out as a PM = Pay attention, don?t be afraid to suggest ways to improve and most importantly know now that eventually you will fail. When you do I encourage you to learn from it and apply it to future projects. Failure isn?t a 1 time thing, it?s iterative, so mentally prepare yourself for the ups and downs.

joshnankivel Josh: Who do you look up to and have learned a lot from in relation to project management?

shawn-futtererShawn: I?ve found fantastic mentors both in and out of the work place. In the work place I sought a mentor in my PMO director and Vice President. Outside of the job I found industry mentors such as Cornelius Fichtner, Jerry Manas, Tom Mochal, Josh Nankivel, Margaret Meloni and many others. Mentors come in many shapes and sizes they can be people senior to you, peers or people just learning the trade. Pay close enough attention and you can learn a little something from just about anyone.

joshnankivel Josh: What are the top personal attributes that lend themselves to project management?

shawn-futtererShawn: I?ve found that Attention to detail, time management, negotiation and conflict resolution and generally good interpersonal skills (i.e. how you interact with others) can get you places.

joshnankivel Josh: What are the top skills a new project manager needs?

shawn-futtererShawn: If you struggle with managing time or your people skills are lacking, project management may not be your thing. The good news is, both can be learned.

joshnankivel Josh: What are the biggest challenges a new project manager faces?

shawn-futtererShawn: Leave your ego at the door. The job of a Project Manager is only glamour and glory about 1% of the time. As a beginning PM you will undoubtedly face uncertain circumstances, you will second guess your decisions and most importantly you will , at some point, step on some ones toes. You will learn to deal with ambiguity, laziness, ignorance, broken promises and a plethora of other stressful things. Before long you will formulate a strategy for handling these nuisance items. It?s easy to complain about these things, the challenge for a project manager is learning how to embrace and learn from these troubling circumstances.