In my previous jobs I've done a lot of project management (PM), especially with clients' teams. I.e. I organised team work, established milestones, controlled their completion, etc. These were teams of considerable size.

In my last job interview I was told I couldn't be considered for a senior consultant position because I have never acted as a PM for teams of several consultants. They told me at their company this would be teams of 1-2 people (apart from me obviously). They would expect me only to coordinate the work of my team, no external people.

Could you help me to understand whether these are really two different competencies? For me, PM is one set of skills. Of course, we can talk about different types of PM (agile, waterfall), PM in different industries, more IT-oriented PM and less IT-oriented PM, etc. but if that's constant, is the difference between coordinating the work of your team - consultants - and clients' teams really so considerable?

Just a remark to avoid misunderstanding: I work as a consultant. I.e. If I did PM work with clients' teams this means I worked with external people. Teams of consultants would be "internal teams" for me.

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    Sounds like nonsense coming from the company you interviewed for, in my opinion. Experience managing people/projects should be valid, regardless of whether the people involved are 'internal' or clients/contractors. Did you ask the hiring Manager why it matters that the people be internal, specifically? – Time4Tea Jul 10 '18 at 17:11

Maybe, maybe not.

It likely depends on what sort of contractual relationship the consulting organization has with their clients. If the consulting organization is signing fixed price contracts, for example, then negotiating all the "feature X is at least vaguely implied by requirement Y but not explicit, is it in the statement of work or does that require a change request and more money" can be a huge minefield that wouldn't be present if you're managing people within the same organization. There may also be some expectation of relationship management (i.e. identifying and cultivating opportunities for the consulting company to sell more services) that are wrapped up in the PM role.


One is client management and the other is internal team management which really are two very different disciplines (though with significant overlap). The biggest difference is that you are not responsible to hire and fire the people at your client nor are you responsible for their development and performance.

Another dimension to take into consideration is that their definition of senior is leading multiple teams at the same time. Such a definition is usually not uncommon for such a senior role.

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    The question is about project management. Being a PM for an internal team doesn't necessarily mean being a boss to someone (i.e. being responsible for people's development for firing, etc.). As a matter of fact, having worked at various companies and with different (internal) PMs, I have never worked in an environment where my PM would be able to fire me. Tell my boss I'm rubbish - yes. But there's a difference between personnel responsibility and being an PM. – BigMadAndy Jul 11 '18 at 11:18
  • Oh you're totally right. I think I was thinking of something else. I think the other point of multiple teams still stands? – Alper Jul 11 '18 at 11:32

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