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The Interviews: Project Manager, Ashley Johnson

Ruth Hartnoll   —   9 May 2016   —   Access News

The Interviews: Project Manager, Ashley Johnson

1. Tell me about your role. What does a typical day look like?

A day in the life of Ashley Johnson starts with getting into the office, brewing a cup of joe, checking over e-mails and running a timesheet report to ensure everyone’s up to date. If there are any offenders they are placed on the wall of shame (note: no one likes the wall of shame).

"Go back and do timesheets" Back to the future logo

Following on from that  I catch up with relevant members of the team on projects. We discuss how the Kanban board is shaping up. We use the Kanban system as it’s a great way to prioritise workloads and keep things moving:

Kanban definition on google

Then we check out what happened yesterday, discuss any issues, how that day is going to pan out and if I need to pick up on any issues and any concerns or blockers that they may have.

After those sessions it could be a whole manner of tasks. That’s the thing I like about project management; each day is different. I could be QA’ing a site, reviewing wireframes, scoping out costs, updating project plans, getting under the skin of some new business critical functionality, presenting designs, pitching for a new project, reviewing and testing payment workflows - the list goes on!

2. What was the last live music you went to see?

I went to see Explosions In The Sky at Albert Hall which was super awesome - the beer was £5.50, so that nearly ruined the night.

3. Where do you go for the latest news on project management? Are there any feeds you follow?

I’m a big fan of…

4. You presented at Drupal Camp London this year. What 3 pieces of advice would you give to someone presenting at an event?

  1. Balance substance and style. I made all my slides in Photoshop and everything took 3X longer to edit.
  2. Fill your water before you talk, not during. It gets slightly awkward as you perform a beautiful dance in front of people including a large jug, small glass and talking.
  3. Exorcise the fear. At the end of the day everyone’s rooting for you so if you stumble, brush it off and carry on!

5. How did you end up in your role? What’s your career origin story?

I started life as a wide-eyed and bushy tailed graduate trying to break into the advertising industry.

I did a spot of interning at agencies across London & Manchester and decided to pursue a career as a designer. After bagging my first job it slowly dawned on me that being shackled to Photoshop day in and day out wasn’t really pushing my buttons.

A natural move at the time was to try my hand at development, predominantly PHP/ HTML/ CSS with a splash of Ruby on Rails (I was convinced this was a type of curry for a while), I learnt a lot but found my skills were more people based than hands on. I moved into a hybrid account management/ project management role and as they say, the rest is history.

With the experience I have to date I feel straddling both the design and development camps has helped me massively with where I am today in terms of project management.  

What music do you listen to in work when you need to concentrate?

Punk Rock PM Playlist, for PM’s of the punk persuasion.

7. If you had to sum up project management in one sentence what would it be?

8. Who are some of the most inspiring people you work with?

Phil Norton, or as he is affectionately known, 0&1’s, for all the Drupal community work he does, contributing back code, speaking at events across the UK, creating the likes of VLAD + Phenkal and running the North West Drupal User Group (NWDUG for short) all whilst working super hard.

9. What was the last thing that made you laugh?

The answer to question 7

10. Are there any books you can recommend related to your work?

Follow Ashley on Twitter @johnnnnson for more humorous musings.


Next time in The Interviews we talk skiing, inspiring colleagues and skills learnt on the job with Zoe Todd our Account Executive.

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