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Becoming a leader through the Project Management Academy

Gaining on-the-job experience to become a project manager is now a lot easier with the Covance Project Management (PM) Academy. Launched in early 2019 to identify and develop future project management leaders, the PM academy is not just an educational program – it’s a department with three levels of full-time project coordinator positions.

“The Project Management Academy is a community set up like an ‘incubator’ learning environment,” said Cris Howard, Executive Director & Global Head, PM Academy, Project Management Center of Excellence.

“It’s designed for natural leaders with a strong scientific background,” she explained. “Successful people in this role have demonstrated experience overcoming barriers and leading teams successfully through a challenge.”

The backbone of the PM Academy is its “web of support”

New hires join the PM Academy as project coordinators (PC) and are assigned to a therapeutic area aligned with client programs and/or alliance portfolios. This allows them to increase their skillset not only in project management and leadership – but also first-hand experience with the client’s compound and/or unique processes. This increases the long-term value they bring to a client and builds a trusting relationship.

“I really enjoy developing relationships with our clients. Having supportive, positive and open-minded colleagues helps us build the confidence to grow our capabilities and strengthen those relationships,” said Amanda, Project Manager I and PM Academy graduate. “I feel inspired and appreciated.”

Project coordinators are grouped into geographical hubs where they establish a local community plan to network with and learn from other functional groups and project leaders, said Cris. She added this design creates an extended network from peer mentors to subject matter experts, as well as client and scientific forums, for project coordinators to support, guide and inspire.

Kacper, a project coordinator II, said, the PM Academy has provided him with ample avenues to get information and build experiences: “From smart subject matter expert meetings, project coordinator brainstorming sessions to lunch conversations, we’re well supported. This prevents anyone from stumbling alone in the dark.”

Advancing in a career pathway after the PM Academy

After building up knowledge of Good Clinical Practice (GCP) regulations as a project coordinator, the PM Academy moves participants into the senior project coordinator role to run part of a study on their own. From there, they graduate to a project manager and work up to roles of increasing responsibility, all the way to executive director.

 “The PM Academy has offered me opportunities to take risks,” said Jennifer, a recent PM Academy graduate. “The risk to be taught something new and the opportunity to apply it and to teach others ▬the risk to fail and gain experience and the opportunity to learn new lessons▬ that knowledge has opened the door to new possibilities.”

“The best thing about the PM Academy is the people,” added Cole, project coordinator II and current participant. “Having the opportunity to work with such a diverse and motivated team inspires me to continually better myself.”

Looking to develop higher level leadership competencies with the PM Academy? Join us in Madison, WI; Nashville, TN; Research Triangle Park, NC; Leeds, UK; Warsaw, Poland; Bangalore, India; Sydney, Australia; Taipei, Taiwan; Seoul, Korea; or Beijing, China.

Want to learn more about the PM Academy? Visit our career site and search project coordinator to discover your #CovancePotential.

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