By Kevin Howell

Effective project management is important in the engineering world. Companies seek project managers who can deliver results in complex environments.

Project managers must interact with team members, stakeholders, and organizational leaders and are responsible for the planning, execution, controlling, and closing out of projects. They also manage the time, people, material, and finances involved in the project.

With such a large responsibility, a particular skill set is necessary for success. Wondering if you have what it takes? Here are key skills of successful project managers.


Being a successful project manager is about thoroughly understanding the problem, solution, processes, and people involved. To gain that understanding, project managers must be great listeners.

Leading a team involves a lot of learning to know the needs of stakeholders as well as team members. Good listeners can manage and motivate the team, make good decisions, and deliver a successful project.


Project managers must be highly organized. They’re responsible for managing multiple tasks, tracking issues, staying in budget, and writing detailed reports.

Being organized gives the project structure, making sure it’s on time and on target. Project managers should know how to effectively use tools such as Gantt charts, risk assessments, and charters throughout the project.


Having strong communication skills is essential. Project managers must communicate status changes and give effective presentations to both technical and non-technical audiences.

Students from the University of Johannesburg used this skill in an EPICs in IEEE project that brought sustainable solar energy to homes in a poor section of Johannesburg. They had to conduct workshops for high school students who were helping out with the project, and they had to sell residents on benefits and effectiveness of the project.


One of the most important, and most difficult, responsibilities of project managers is decision-making. That’s why it’s necessary to have strong critical thinking skills to weigh options and make decisions on the best solutions to problems that arise.

The best project managers see the project from all different angles, make decisions, and explain why the decision is the best approach.


Though management is the key responsibility, project managers must have the technical knowledge and skills to understand the architecture of the project and jump in and complete some tasks if necessary.

Project management is an important role in engineering, and the more you develop the above skills, the more successful you’ll be in the position.

Looking to get project management experience and help bring solutions to community needs? EPICs in IEEE provides grants to engineer-related projects that address service needs. Submit an application for your project today.