Skills a Project Manager Must Possess in the Energy Sector

By Mr. Yogesh Sood, CMD, VitalSmarts India


Mr. Yogesh Sood, CMD, VitalSmarts India

Energy sector lies at the helm of a country's infrastructure that accelerates economic growth and enhances productivity. Development is the outcome of the optimum utilisation of state resources, especially the renewable sources of energy, and its in-house capability of using them in an appropriate and effective manner. In India, the greenhouse gas issues, dependence on foreign energy imports, the sudden increase in the oil price, and uncertainties associated with its supply led to a renewed focus on developing alternative and cleaner energy sources. Currently, the renewable energy sector in India is growing rapidly that has the potential to create tons of employment opportunities. In 2014, the renewable energy sector has generated 400,000 jobs in India as per the report released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). And, it is estimated that this sector could generate a million jobs by 2022.

Currently, India offers more than 0.4 million green jobs and is ranked fourth globally with 5.7% of all people employed in this sector. These job openings mean a healthy demand for project professionals with a standard set of skills. These project experts can streamline the installation, operation and maintenance of an energy infrastructure. Indian organizations are now increasingly embracing project management processes- and are making endeavours to ensure their employees are trained in them.

Key Responsibilities

The project manager assists in carrying out the division’s work plan by managing the resource assessments, market analysis, funding, policy evaluation and implementation of complex projects, activities and/or initiatives pertaining to the division’s areas of intervention. He contributes to the development of project proposals, fix a design and draft plan and specifications for tender and construction, maintains contacts with interested funding partners, prepares all cost estimates, evaluates the problems in the implementation of a plan, suggests possible solutions and creates reports on project progress. The work of a project manager also includes day to day monitoring of activities under the work plan and collaborates with other project managers in the work plan to ensure synergy and effectiveness.

Essential Skills

Combining educational qualification with real-world knowledge helps project managers to make effective decisions regarding the project in a timely manner. Earlier, the emphasis was given on just technical skills and project managers were hired by their expertise in technical area the project was involved in. In the last few years, there has come a considerable change in the nature of development projects. Unlike old developmental projects that take one-dimensional approaches and focussed on a single solution, now the projects need to use multi-dimensional techniques that include different approaches. Therefore, a project manager needs to have diverse skills to be successful in this domain.

Managerial and Conceptual Skills

These include coordinating and integrating all the project planning efforts, having strong goal orientation, ability to oversee a project from start to finish and anticipate how a modification in one part of the project will affect the entire project, ability to visualize the relationships between the beneficiaries and the development organization, and skills to appropriately deal with the complexities of a project.

Technical Skills

With today’s advanced technology, project managers should need to have knowledge of computers and construction-specific software to expedite several projects. He should have specialized knowledge of the technology trends and their evolution.  Knowing how to correctly use tools and techniques can significantly cut costs and assist them to train their team members and finish the project on schedule. Technical expertise is necessary to synchronize different technologies and find out potential problems associated with the project.

Good Analytical Skills

A project manager should be an effective problem solver and decision maker. He should have ability to detect the problems associated with the project early enough to allow time to respond. Knowing the right techniques and tools to break problems down into manageable parts, finding root causes of issues, analyzing limitations, opportunities and threats are must for a project manager. Additionally, a project manager must be able to synthesise and arrange distinct pieces of data into a meaningful whole.

Negotiation Skills

Project managers spend a lot of their time in negotiating for resources, budget, scope, equipment or changes the project needs. Depending on the project structure, the project managers have to negotiate to survive. It includes dealing with vendors or consultants or project beneficiaries and building mutually acceptable agreements with groups or individuals.

Effective Communication and Interpersonal Skills

The project manager should have requisite communication and interpersonal skills. Strong communication skills include oral and written communication skills enable a project manager to convey project information in an effective manner to all project stakeholders. Interpersonal skills include understanding people, their views, attitudes and human dynamics. The critical interpersonal abilities required to handle projects are leadership, team building, communication, training, motivating, negotiating, persuading, decision making and directing.

Adaptable and Receptive Behaviour

A good project manager should have a propensity to be flexible where required and try to avoid rigid ways of thinking or behaviour. He should always open to new ideas, techniques and practices. Also, he should have an ability to explore innovative strategies and solutions either by himself or through interaction with other team members to achieve the project objectives.

Leadership Skills

A project manager should be an inspirational leader as they have to accomplish set goals along with the team members and key authorities in an organisation. The leadership skills help project managers to articulate a clear vision and providing a right direction. A successful project manager should have the capability to elicit commitment from his team members.

Need for Training

An important aspect for doing well in your career is effective training. A project manager in renewable energy sector must undergo few training modules which will help him to enhance his / her skills. Following are such training modules:

  • Training in conversation for making that important pitch to your potential client
  • It is important for imbibing the sense of accountability before undertaking such job of high authority and responsibility
  • A person should be able to alter situations wherever applicable or during the time of crisis.
  • A person should be a great Influencer to be able to play with people’s mind and crack deals. 

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