A day in the life of a PM. A tribute to my learning process and personal application.

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If you asked me what makes a PM not good enough, I could dump tons of material on you, mistakes that a PM should avoid. But until today, I couldn’t really tell you what a manager should have, to stand firmly on the ground. She/he should have knowledge. Through years of work, I have come to the following saying – in order to train social and personal strategic skills, you need to visit a place where there are unexplored things.

For sure, the first step is to have a plan. It is better if it is planned, if possible in as many details as possible. The better you plan, the better you control and carry out your personal plans!

I have a lot of experience that I can share on how not to do and how to do things in life and business. I had an extremely good opportunity to work in Qatar and collect lessons learned, until this November, three and a half years since I returned to Serbia.

I have worked on large infrastructure projects with companies that instilled in me only the kind of culture they fostered. Neither a degree more nor a degree less. It’s quality. They gave me more than I could handle at the time. More money and obligations that a twenty-five-year-old can put in his pockets or carry on his back. Many people taught me to convey what was said to whom and what was done there. Many things I refused to report because I brought my family upbringing with me. I reported on other important things, because in Qatar you get the opportunity to quickly thaw out on the way to change at 40 degrees Celsius. I clearly remember one meeting, where the company director asked me why I had not reported the revised works. Because he would always snap at me when I made a mistake. That’s why! But at that moment my inner struggle could only be noticed by the client with a slight smile on his face. Then I realized that I will always find ways to learn things, to avoid the culture of people I don’t want to accept. On my first working day, the same director greeted me with the sentence – Welcome to Qatar and please pay attention to this market! It’s not finished, it’s not even done! Or in the vocabulary of the project – there is no definition of completed work, there is no completion of work. I hereby acknowledge him for the first business steps he taught me. When I had to decide whether to work on a Metro project or a street-level interior design company, I thought to myself that if they were using the same work practices as I was on a project the size of Metro, then I’d better go to this other company. With them, everything from the legs to the ceiling and lighting was weighted down. They had a real PM, an agile approach to solving problems. They had a rewarding culture, invested in people, processes and quality. On one of the renovation projects of a well-established house, we got together to create an interior design project. It is an understatement to say that the project brought the best world practice in interior design. The client was delighted. Later during the execution we realized that the resources at our disposal were not up to the design we had created. So we did not fully meet our client’s expectations.

It was considered a professional and personal defeat. That’s how I understood it. Despite the fact that we previously successfully handed over several different projects, I did not manage to cope, for the last time, with the situation that a physical obstacle created a mental barrier for me. Further not knowing how to solve the problem with a functional manager at the scale of readable modules, I decided to leave the company. I don’t know if I mentioned, but I was born to manage projects.

Once the director of the same company offered me dessert, a question I was not at all ready for, so I didn’t even accept it. Regardless, he served me with the words – Today and here everyone deserves at least one dessert!- I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for fostering good business practices. They had that saying – We deliver value in every square centimeter of our space – and they really did that.

Later I got an opportunity to work on Metro. Long story short, it was the opportunity of a lifetime for a PM of my age. They had real internal control with the commissariat for changes. Sometimes so detailed that it slowed down the project. Right the first time! was their motto, with a lot of prevention during the execution of the works. Despite that, from time to time you could hear at certain weekly meetings with the supervisor, you go there to investigate who said what to whom. I received such information in an extremely professional manner with – take care of yourself!-. This would naturally further complicate and add a new list of conflicts that we had to resolve, but I felt called to exclusively represent good practice. In rare situations, I had the opportunity to have lunch together with the manager for the region of our stations, where he told me in confidence through a smile – That little white horse that you ride so well, one day he will throw you out of the saddle and you will remember my words, believe me, I’ve been in similar situations – In those moments, I thought, who still needs to listen to the learned life lessons of a nice Boer. Let’s eat! I don’t know if I mentioned, I was born for projects and I used to think I was a little more than that. However, I was not polite enough for the horse I was riding. A few years later I struggled like everyone else to find a way forward. In a mix of culture that I didn’t create, but I took my home upbringing from it, where my family lives and works, just like I tried to do. Where a sustainable solution needs to be painstakingly crafted in a culture that called me back to learn the skipped lessons, to be ready for upcoming projects. To find myself and self-respect. On this occasion, I give recognition and the highest state honors to the woman who lifted me up when I hit my butt against pathos. I met her many years before, so that she would find me and help me face things that I didn’t consider important. And they were dry. He taught me to go step by step on the way to a new life. And she showed me the face of true love. Thank you for the future. A gift from God – Teodora

Every culture carries something of its own, that’s why it’s called Culture. This November, I acknowledge the overall hard work of people from Serbia and our region, who make a lot out of nothing. That’s why we are so creative and inclined to find solutions, because our climate demands that you be Merlin, the wizard from the fairy tale and find a solution. That is why we were born to work, to suffer and to fight, because whoever does not do so must perish. These are the words of Nikola Tesla. Respecting our vernacularity, we will not eat and drink what is not eaten or drunk in this climate.

There are people from this climate who contribute to the development of good practice, PMP; These are certainly people from CPM, Belgrade, PMI department for Serbia. Among other things, they also helped me bring that long-awaited professional to a C-section, shortly before my first birthday in 1989. They are committed to change! At my diploma, I uttered a sentence that will follow me in my professional work – Able to assume different identities, architecture becomes endless-.

The man who was noble enough to present such things to me and who taught me the first professional steps and correct thinking, how to be a PMP step by step or KAIZEN for short, serves as a Caryatid (or Atlas) to good business practice. His name is Milan Šmigić. I called him Professor, because I know what real professors look like. I have them at home.

This text is a big thank you to his wholehearted efforts and his nobility, to extract deeply buried self-knowledge from people like a true surgeon. Born PMP!


My personal change is a tribute to my ancestors and my heirs, as well as my current state. To this day, I have a rich family to whom I leave this text, as well as to other people, to serve as a lesson learned and to help them find their way!


I give people the kind of houses they offer me!


Stevan Milojević arch.