Career Switch (Part 1) – Why I decided to become a Project Manager Ben Snell

By Ben Snell 

Hi, my name’s Ben and I’ve been asked to write a series of blogs about my ongoing experiences of switching careers into project management. For this first I thought it would be good to give some background information on me and why I decided to switch careers.

After my degree in Education in 2015 I worked in the UK until 2018, when I moved to Foshan City in China to teach English. While I loved teaching in China I knew I didn’t want to stay there long term and dreaded the thought of returning to teaching in the UK. I didn’t think teaching had any transferable skills to begin a career that I would find fulfilling. It was only when I had returned to the UK due to COVID-19 that a friend said to me: “If you’re looking for a new career, why don’t you look into project management? You definitely have the skills to do it”.

 My step-father is a project manager in construction but I had never considered myself suitable. It surprised me that project management didn’t only involve construction, during my initial research I saw jobs for PMs in a vast range of disciplines such as healthcare, financial services and even education! This gave me some hope but I still thought that I lacked the skills and experience to be attractive to a potential employer, regardless of sector. However, when I started researching PM roles I kept seeing skills and attributes that I had definitely honed through teaching.


Good communicator?  Organised?  Effective leadership? 

Controlling 30 manic children doesn’t happen by accident so… ! This was a valuable lesson; that we’re all participating in projects, whether we know it or not, and that we also have relevant experience.

At this point I had a startling revelation: I had already managed a project without realising it! While in China I was asked the School Principal to formulate and implement a new English curriculum and methods of planning to replace old, outdated methods. This involved justifying the need for a new curriculum, outlining the potential benefits of new methods and identifying potential risks involved with implementation.

I also had a deadline and was asked to meet the school senior management to report regularly on the drafting and implementation progress. Does any of this sound familiar? Any project professional will tell you that I was managing a small project but, at the time, I simply had no idea that’s what I was doing. This is what led me to pursue a career in project management; not just that I knew now that it was something I was able to do, but that people around me saw I was capable of it too!

Thank you for reading. In the next blog we will cover different project management qualifications and the reasons why I decided the APM PMQ was the right one.