For many organisations, project management is an important cornerstone of their business. Managing projects successfully involves having a wide skill set, ranging from an ability to be good at managing people and building teams, respecting the timeline of a project, keeping the cost of the project within budget, solving problems, understanding cultural issues, delivering the project results and a whole host of other things.
In addition to all this, project managers need to be excellent communicators and have good language skills, particularly in English. At LSI/IH Portsmouth we have many years of experience of making the life of a project manager easier, helping them to communicate more effectively at the different stages of their projects. We do this by getting them to do tasks which allows them to practice the functional language and terminology, that they have acquired on their course, and which is necessary for their job. In the comfort of a classroom with a trained professional to hand, students are able to develop their skills and confidence without the worry of being judged or making a professional error.
An Interview with a Project Manager
We recently had Jose, a Spanish project manager who came to LSI/IH Portsmouth for a two-week language course focussing on Project Management. Jose very kindly agreed to be interviewed about his experience on the course and how it has improved his English.
LSI/IH Portsmouth: Hello Jose, firstly thank you for doing this interview for us and answering some questions. So, firstly Jose where are you from and what do you do?
Jose: Hello, I’m from Spain and I’m a Project Manager. I work for an international construction company and I have worked there for just over 10 years I think, yes for ten and a half years.
LSI/IH Portsmouth: Was this your first company?
Jose: No, actually I started work in our family business, my father’s building business, but then I decided I wanted to do something a little bit more challenging and also be a little more independent, you know what it can be like working with family (laughs) so I studied for a degree and then a Master’s degree in Civil Engineering. After university, I worked in another small family run business for about 4 years just outside Barcelona but wasn’t really able to use what I had studied for so I found another job in this construction company. Since I started at this job I have done a few other courses, to keep up with changing standards in the industry, it is necessary. It is a really good company to work for, and I hope to stay there for the future at least.
LSI/IH Portsmouth: So Jose can you tell us what your job involves?
Jose: Yes, well, my job as a project manager is to set up various projects internationally to do with civil engineering, so to do with building tunnels or bridges. It is my job to oversee the project from the beginning to the end. I have to find the people who are going to work on the project. I have to look after the budget and most importantly I have to make sure the project is on schedule. There are a lot of different stages in project management, it would be very difficult to remember every detail, but effectively it starts at the beginning of the project, so from the first agreement until the end when everything is finished, and sometimes after that, if there are problems that need fixing. It is important to be able to choose teams, know who can do what and delegate the roles and responsibilities clearly, while laying out the objectives and plans.
LSI/IH Portsmouth: Wow that sounds very involved. So why do you need English?
Jose: Well, because for me, they are international projects, very few of the people I work with speak Spanish, so I need to speak English, it is, you know, the international language, so I need it for a lot of different things, like to make presentations, for all the meetings we have, even dealing with local government officials and politicians, people like that. I use English every day in my job, whether I want to or not (laughs).
LSI/IH Portsmouth: What things did your course focus on?
Jose: What has been really good is that my course has focussed on things like presentations and meetings, which of course are essential in this job, discussing things with teams and presenting information to them, so it is really good to know how to chair the meeting for example and then how to clarify what someone has said, when I am not clear on their English, and then when presenting information it is good to be able to know how to be clear in English and also how to answer questions that are sometimes difficult or sensitive or maybe I don’t understand in a presentation. We also worked on many other areas like teleconferencing which of course is helpful, well actually really important for me, talking to teams who aren’t always able to be in the same building. Negotiating was a key area to look at, this is the one I enjoyed the most and I think I will find most useful, we looked at how to be diplomatic, how important it is in English and how changing the words a little will give a very different impression, which when trying to resolve a conflict is very important, I didn’t realise, so this was for me, the most useful, as there are quite a few times where I need to manage conflict.
The course has also helped to improve my grammar and vocabulary. Now, I feel a lot more confident when speaking in English.
LSI/IH Portsmouth: Would you recommend this course to someone else in your position?
Jose: Absolutely. It’s been a really good experience coming here, what I appreciated the most was how my whole course was tailored specifically to my needs, to my industry, to help me. Thank you to all the team at LSI/IH Portsmouth, I appreciate it very much.
Thank you, Jose, for agreeing to do this interview with us, we really do appreciate it.
(**Please note we have changed the students’ names due to their companies’ privacy policies.**)
See here for more information on our Specialist English for Project Managers
See here for more information on all our Specialist English Courses.