Interview with Kerandeep Moti
Ms Moti, you trained as an industrial management assistant at Rheinmetall and combined this with a work/study programme in business administration at HS Bremen. This surely gave you a lot of options afterwards. Why did you ultimately apply for the position of commercial project manager?
Back when I was studying, I already enjoyed the modules on marketing/controlling – the commercial areas, so to speak. As part of my training I also worked in a number of departments, for example in procurement, accounting and HR.
A colleague noticed my interest in this area and encouraged me to move into commercial and contract. This wasn’t actually part of my training, but I was able to spend three months “getting a taste of the job” to see whether I liked it without committing to anything.
I quickly realised that as a recent graduate I would be dealing with all commercial areas in the cross-divisional role of commercial project manager. You play an important role in the project, which includes coordinating the project and having contact with the customer. This gives you a lot of responsibility, and I find this a good learning opportunity, challenging and exciting. Rheinmetall was the right choice for me. The industry is unique.
What is a typical working day like for you in the project business?
Everyday project business
To be honest, there isn’t a typical working day. A lot happens on an ad hoc basis, but that is precisely what defines this complex project business. It’s not a run-of-the-mill job, but it is extremely varied. Every day you learn something new, and after one and a half years in the job I’m still learning. I deal, for example, with national and international tenders in the civil and the military sector, and also with contractual clauses for claim management.
As a commercial project manager, I don’t just work in the background; with many things I’m right in the thick of it from the outset and play an active role. This also gives me the opportunity to help shape the course of the project. A lot is down to you as an individual to make a difference during the acquisition and tendering phase and to use your own initiative.
What project has been particularly memorable for you? What has been your highlight to date, so to speak, and why?
Definitely my very first project. Projects often run for longer periods and when you’re new to the business it takes some time in the beginning to find your feet. But I was lucky that at the time I joined there was a project I was able to work on right from the early stages. The project involved a qualified air defence system. It was a German air defence programming tender. I found this phase particularly intense; there was a lot of work to do and it was stressful. I learned a great deal, gained new experience and became familiar with certain products (e.g. drone defence systems). The team invested a huge amount of energy and time, went through ups and downs together, and was absolutely determined to win the tender. Looking back, it was a truly fantastic experience!
My current highlight is working on a major project in Mexico, which involves business travel to our Mexican training centre for oil platforms. It’s incredibly exciting to see just how quickly such a huge building can take shape, witness the project successes with each individual milestone and be involved in it all.
What would you say are the particular challenges in your working day? What should new starters expect?
Advice for success in project management
They absolutely need to demonstrate flexibility in all directions. Every project usually has a new team set-up. By definition, the working methods of the different stakeholders (e.g. customers, line managers, colleagues) can also vary, and you have to get to grips with each one. And every one of our projects is different. In a nutshell, it is never routine.
Intercultural skills and good proficiency in English are also required for international exchanges.
Do you have to travel a lot? If so, how does this fit in with your everyday life?
Yes, there are phases during which I have to travel a lot, for example for meetings with customers, procurement agencies and subsidiaries. But, a well-organised calendar and a talent for organisation help you to pull everything together.
What three adjectives best describe your job?
Project work is often associated with pressure and deadlines. Is that the case in your job as well?
There are certainly deadlines involved, but you always coordinate with your colleagues. When you’re part of a good team, there tends to be a positive pressure and you are willing to push yourself. There are always new challenges with a tangible outcome, and that also makes me rather proud.