Hot jobs: Offshore project manager

The lucrative business of offshore project management

Job description: A locally-based manager who plans, oversees and coordinates projects with offshore components. The manager, who may work for either a domestic company or an offshore one with a stateside presence, ensures that offshore vendors meet project requirements. As more businesses outsource work overseas, these managers are in high demand. "There aren't many folks that can meet the job's profile, which is why they're highly coveted," says Eugene Kublanov, COO for NeoIT, a consulting firm.

Why you need a offshore project manager: To reap the expected benefits of an offshore contract. "You need remote management," says Jim McAssey, a principal with The W Group, a consulting group. "If you don't have that skill driving a project, it's going to go awry. You just can't ship a spec to India and say, 'Develop this.' If you do, you're guaranteeing failure."

Desired skills: Knowledge of cost analysis; ability to lead teams and strong leadership skills; project management skills, experience running large global projects; knowledge of foreign languages; strong organizational skills; software architecture and design skills; strong management resource allocation skills; vendor management skills; seven to 10 years' work experience; great communication skills.

How to find them: Possible talent pools for this position include expatriates, Americans who have done or are doing a stint in your offshoring partner's country; foreign workers, such as those with H1 visas, currently employed by you; MBAs from programs with an international focus; internal candidates with global project experience.

What to look for: Unrestricted ability to travel; flexible working hours; understanding of the business; cultural tolerance; diplomatic skills; and the ability to use praise effectively. "They have to get things done without having to threaten or yell or shout or beat," observes Art Flew, CEO of Karvy Global Services in Hyderabad, India.

The ability to provide "crisp deliverables" is also key. Activities with an offshore provider take place remotely, in different time zones, says Sam Lawler, practice director of project management and strategy for GlassHouse Technologies. "It necessitates that you to be over the top with crisp details to outline exactly what tasks need to get done and exactly when and who needs to do them."

Elimination round: "What time is it in India right now?" A lot of offshore work is done in India so a familiarity with that nation is a must. "It's a killer question for me," McAssey declares. "If a person can't answer that question, I can tell that they have never been to India, never talked to anyone in India, never scheduled anything in India. Forget them."

Growing your own: Experts are at odds over the wisdom of trying to grow offshore project managers from within an organization, especially if a company is new to global project management. But managers tapped from within have one edge over outside candidates, according to NeoIT's Kublanov. "The person is going to know your organization, they're going to have a reputation in your organization and those things are going to allow that person to manage the internal diplomacy and manage the internal change effectively, which is critical," he says.

Salary range: US$70,000 to US$250,000

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