Survival skills for Accidental Project Managers

Written by Major Dr. Prebagaran Jayaraman FCMI Tuesday 19 July 2022
This project management expert from CMI Malaysia channels his inner Bear Grylls – sharing his top three survival tips for the fresh project manager
Bear Grylls in the woods

Imagine this. You’re a bus driver and people are waiting for your bus to arrive. They need to go home after a tiring day in the office. It’s the last bus of the day. When you arrive at the bus stop, you quickly open up the door. Then you tell the passengers that you don’t have a driving licence. But you tell them not to worry, you know how to drive this bus. How many of those passengers do you think would take the risk of staying on board?

If I were one of those passengers, I would quickly step out. For me, the risk isn’t worth taking. There’s no way to know that I’ll reach home safely. I wouldn’t let you drive me if you didn’t have a driving licence. Not in a million years.

Now, in a similar scenario, you are a manager. You’re entrusted to manage an organisation in a VUCA world, but you don’t have any formal management training. What would be your chances of managing the organisation successfully?

Accidental project managers

Now let me tell you a true story: Back in the year 2000, I was a project manager responsible for the Instructional Systems Design of a multi-billion-ringgit New Generation Patrol Vessel (NGPV) project in Malaysia. I had formal training, certification and experience in the Royal Malaysian Naval Training System (RMNTS). Since the NGPV contract clearly mentioned the requirement of RMNTS, I believed that I had the skills to manage the training project.

Keep reading for Prebagaran’s three essential survival tips for the accidental PM


If you are already registered as a CMI Friend, Subscriber or Member, just login to view this article.

Confirm your registration

Login below to confirm your details and access this article.


Please confirm that you want to switch off the "Sign in with email" remember me feature.

Register for Free Access

Not yet a Member, Subscriber or Friend? Register as a CMI Friend for free, and get access to this and many other exclusive resources, as well as weekly updates straight to your inbox.

You have successfully registered

As a CMI Friend, you now have access to whole range of CMI Friendship benefits.

Please login to the left to confirm your registration and access the article.