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Project Managers 'Bridge' Science and Business

Over at Just Another Electron Pusher, Glen Ernst describes project management as a "bridge between roles in science and business." In speaking with Becky Urbanek, a global compliance resource and project senior manager at AstraZeneca, Ernst details how a project manager initiates a research project, leads it, and sees it through to its completion, the outcome of which she is responsible for. While Urbanek had been involved in drug discovery research for several years as a scientist, it wasn't until AstraZeneca announced in 2010 that all drug discovery activities would cease at her site, she says, that she began to "fully appreciate that project management was a developed profession on its own" and also "plan for what would come next." It was at the advice of her colleague that she joined a professional association called the Project Management Institute. Project management, Ernst says, "formally divides project activities into categories and more easily managed bits, referred to as processes." He adds that "the PMI and other professional associations are there to provide guidance, not mandate how projects must be run. It's somewhat like a menu — choose what works best depending on the project and the people actually doing the work." Urbanek tells Ernst that she doesn't regret leaving the bench. "I believe that project management is a growth area as it spans many sectors," she says.