A creative project manager (sometimes called a CPM) oversees the planning, execution and delivery of creative projects. These projects could include advertising campaigns, marketing initiatives, website development or other creative endeavors.
Roles and Responsibilities
The creative project manager is responsible for ensuring that the project is completed on time, within budget, and to the satisfaction of the client or stakeholders. They work closely with a team of designers, copywriters, and other creatives to ensure the project meets goals and objectives.
In addition to managing the logistics of a project, a CPM is responsible for fostering a creative and collaborative work environment. They must be able to provide leadership and direction while also encouraging creativity and innovation. Strong communication skills are essential, as the creative project manager must be able to effectively communicate with stakeholders and team members throughout the life of the project.
Many roles require a bachelor’s degree in marketing, communications, graphic design, or business, however a degree in another area isn’t necessarily a deal breaker. Many of the skills and competencies needed to be a successful project manager are transferable – just make sure you know how to spin these to your advantage (see resume tips here).
Additionally, post-college certifications can offer a competitive advantage. Some of these require large time and budget commitments, like the PMPⓇ Certification, which has a prerequisite of time spent in a PM role, training and an exam. Other certifications can also be helpful, such as programs through Coursera, that allow you to go at your own pace, are lower budget, and have no prerequisites.
Top skills of a creative project manager include: project management (duh!), communication, leadership, creative thinking, budget and resource management, time management, and risk management. They must be extremely organized and process-oriented with a working understanding of the creative process and graphics standards.
The career path of a creative project manager varies depending on your industry and level of experience, and also if you are in an in-house position (within a company’s marketing or creative department) or in an agency. Generally, a CPM starts their career as a junior project manager or project coordinator and works their way up to more senior roles.
As a junior creative project manager or coordinator, you may be responsible for supporting a more senior creative project manager with tasks such as scheduling meetings, preparing project plans and tracking project progress. As you gain more experience and expertise, you may be promoted to a mid-level creative project manager. In this role, you would be responsible for managing small to medium-sized projects independently and continuing to support on larger projects, managing budgets and communicating with stakeholders.
As you continue to progress in your career to a CPM or senior CPM, you would be responsible for managing larger and more complex projects, as well as managing other project managers or coordinators, depending on the size and needs of the company.
At the highest level, a CPM may become a director of project management or head of creative operations, overseeing a team of project managers across multiple projects or departments.
Overall, the career of a creative project manager is dynamic and challenging. There are many opportunities for growth and advancement as well as the satisfaction of overseeing the successful delivery of creative projects, which you then get to go out and see in the world.
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