Bună from Romania!
Think project management is all routine budgeting and scheduling? In this month’s postcard, Andrei Bumbu offers a behind-the-scenes peek into his daily life and how he addresses common challenges. Read on to learn more.
Tell us about where you live.
I live in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, in the Transylvania region. I was born here and it’s where I’ve lived my whole life. It’s a university city, so it’s very lively with many students, narrow streets, and a busy nightlife. Our medical universities are a big draw for international students, as are the many entertainment options, such as the Untold festival and jazz in the park.
Cluj-Napoca also has medieval roots; it used to be a Roman citadel. But because it’s become such a metropolitan city, it’s changed a lot since the time I was growing up and these days, it’s considered one of our fastest growing cities with countless opportunities.
What was your path to Pythian?
I’ve always been in client supporting roles. I started as a support engineer for a Romanian internet service provider and later switched to software support where I spent a few years engaging with clients and supporting them at different levels, providing troubleshooting, technical and training sessions.
Then, I worked as an onboarding engineer where I later moved into management and after a couple of years, took on some project management. Our office at the time focused on bringing in more business and wanted to develop on all levels and we were missing project managers for the financial markets, so I trained and became a certified project manager.
Later, I moved into technical and escalation engineering at a new company and that’s where I learned about cloud technology. This led me to getting certified in Amazon Web Services (AWS). One day, a former colleague who’s now at Pythian was texting me to congratulate me and the conversation led me to this role—I’ve been here since last September.
What’s a typical day like for you now?
There are some routine activities in project management, such as monitoring hours consumption, tracking resources and deadlines and generating schedule reports for clients. The rest is mostly about dealing with challenges. Even if, on the surface, a project might be running smoothly, I can run into a roadblock that the technical team is facing and I need to assess the risks, think about ways around the issue and try to help the team to get back on track.
What has been the biggest challenge in this role so far?
One of the most (and constant) challenges is securing resources. There’s an ongoing struggle to find the required technical help, so we all have to prioritize, all while keeping our customer engaged. For example, there’s currently a significant project that involves four technical teams, each having two or three people, including architects who need to understand the technical plan for the project. With a technical plan, I can estimate when the resources will come into place and provide estimates on the usage of the resources ahead of time. That’s very challenging if you don’t know how the problem will evolve. So, constant collaboration is key.
Once the project plan is established, things become simpler and there’s a flow that usually follows as expected. It’s the first part, the initiation with the client that tends to be most challenging.
To succeed at project management, you need to be an effective communicator, a good decision maker, and stay cool under pressure. You must be open to developing your leadership skills since you’re the one driving projects and be effective at managing different technical expert teams—even if you’re not the expert with the same level of understanding as them—because you still need to understand their needs.
Tell us about your workspace.
I have dedicated office space with a large screen and a Mac laptop on an even larger desk. I’m traditional in that I just grab my coffee and start my day and make sure to get up periodically to stretch or get a drink.
How do you spend your time off?
I taught myself to play the keyboards and the acoustic guitar. Then, I learned the electric and bass guitars. I love to mess around with music production gear; mixing music is a relaxing creative outlet. No album in the works, but I’ve played with friends at small venues and subbed for individual musicians and as part of a wedding band. I’m just enjoying these opportunities more than anything right now.
I also play chess, soccer and I mountain hike. I have a favorite team for each country, but I don’t follow any particular team.
What’s one type of food you could eat every day?
Pasta Bolognese with Ragù and crème brûlée, and maybe a concoction of apple juice and sparkling water.
Describe Pythian in one word.