Interview Log – A Day in Life of a Program Manager with 24+ Years of Experience

Interview Log – A Day in Life of a Program Manager with 24+ Years of Experience

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Rashmi Karan
Manager - Content
Updated on Jun 7, 2023 13:04 IST

We move on in our journey of collaborating with industry experts from different domains to help job aspirants find the right career for themselves. This time we had the chance to interview Ms. Mona Mahatha, Director – Engineering, AltranMs. Mahatha is a PMP Certified Program & Project Management professional and a program manager with over 24 years of experience in Software Program Management, Project Planning, and Implementation. 


Let’s start a conversation with Ms. Mona Mahatha.


Interview Log – Ms. Mona Mahatha, Program Manager


Shiksha Online – Please share a brief introduction about your role as a program manager.

Ms. Mahatha –

My role as a program manager involves managing programs, comprising of multiple inter-connected projects. The key job responsibilities include –

  • Developing strategies and plans for program execution
  • Monitoring program implementation
  • Ensuring programs are run successfully and deliver results as per agreed KPIs
  • Monitoring the project health 
  • Ensuring key performance parameters such as budget, schedule and risks are appropriately managed 

As a program manager, I am responsible for guiding individual project managers and mentoring them. Ensuring good cross-connect and collaboration between different projects in a program is vital. It also requires conflict resolution and proactive risk management. 

Ultimately, it is the program manager’s responsibility to keep all stakeholders aligned with the common goals of the program.


Shiksha Online What type of career opportunities are available for a program manager?  Could you please share some insights?

Ms. Mahatha –

Career opportunities are available in multiple organizations across diverse fields, which organize their activities as projects and programs. Various industries like Information Technology, Pharmaceuticals, Construction, NGOs, and even PPPs (Public-Private Partnerships) require program managers.


Shiksha Online Which are top companies in this field?

Ms. Mahatha –

There are several top companies across industries, which employ Program Managers. Both the IT service sector and product companies have program managers to overlook and be in-charge of their crucial customer commitments. Even other industries like telecom, PPPs have program managers for running and managing their key programs.


Shiksha Online – What would you say is your motivation behind pursuing what was back then a fair niche field?

Ms. Mahatha –

Program Management is not a niche field anymore. However, my motivation to pursue this field has been a critical interest in management. Having worked in the software industry for 20+ years, I have seen many significant technological developments and have worked in many challenging projects. Amidst the rapidly changing technology landscape, one needs to keep pace with technology. Still, it is also important to have mature and agile program managers helming the affairs of project deliveries. 

The challenges of technology change, diversification, global delivery model have necessitated the even greater need for skills of strategizing, planning, collaboration, risk management, and this has made this field even more exciting. The daily challenge of managing the changing dynamics and applying innovation to maintain program execution has inspired me to stay connected to this field.


Shiksha Online – Tell us about some lessons that you have learned to excel as a program manager. 

Ms. Mahatha –

Some valuable lessons that one has learned in this field and are absolutely essential to excel in this field, are having the ability to be agile, and adaptive to changes. Program and project dynamics change all the time, and one has to understand and anticipate changes and plan to handle them. 

Also, having good people connect and the ability to understand real issues impacting project situations is essential. One needs to be transparent and flexible to win support from stakeholders across different areas.


Shiksha Online – What does a day in the life of a program manager look like?

Ms. Mahatha –

My day usually starts with checking with email and calendar and then planning things around the engagements of the day. Meetings with customers and program tracking meetings with key stakeholders are usually done on priority. Planning and strategizing for future program deliveries is essential.

Besides the ongoing programs, we also work with pre-sales and business teams on new proposals and programs that are being launched. Discussions with project managers and guiding them on immediate challenges and risk management is an integral part of daily activities. 

Throughout the day, we need to keep an eye on all critical aspects of programs. We remain involved in lots of collaborative interactions with a diverse set of stakeholders like engineering delivery team, corporate finance, quality and presales & business teams. 


Shiksha Online – What skills or characteristics make someone an effective remote worker?

Ms. Mahatha –

Usually, we have many remote workers across geographical locations, so working with distant colleagues is the norm nowadays. Any colleague who is organized, responsive, and sensitive to his/her responsibilities is quite useful and can manage very well even while working remotely.


Shiksha Online – Any courses/paths that you’ll recommend to aspiring program managers?

Ms. Mahatha –

The best learning path for an aspiring program manager is to learn while on the job. After having been part of the core delivery team, one can graduate to taking reins of a single project and manage it under the guidance of an experienced program manager. One can learn much by observing experts in their fields and seeking their mentorship and guidance, whenever faced with challenges. 


Shiksha Online – Last words – Do you have any expert advice for our readers? 

Ms. Mahatha –

A program manager’s job requires a perfect amalgamation of soft-skills, knowledge of management practices, and experience of core technical skills involved in the field. One must, therefore, aspire to have the right balance of these mandatory skills. 

One need not be an expert, but it is vital to remain an astute listener/observer, an active learner, and a humble leader to be a successful program manager.

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About the Author
Rashmi Karan
Manager - Content

Rashmi is a postgraduate in Biotechnology with a flair for research-oriented work and has an experience of over 13 years in content creation and social media handling. She has a diversified writing portfolio and aim... Read Full Bio


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