Marketing Project Managers at ExpressVPN What it’s like: Marketing Project Managers at ExpressVPN
Who are the PjMs?
Informally, the mission of project managers (PjMs) at ExpressVPN is to “be the grease that keeps the machine running smoothly.” In this case “the machine” would be the company. We live to proactively suggest efficiency improvements to help our assigned teams deliver on their OKRs (objectives and key results).
This includes everything from planning and completing projects as scoped and on time, to creating clear tickets at a high velocity, to delivering precise, insightful, actionable stakeholder communications. “Taskmaster” is probably too harsh a word, but we certainly help others stay on-task.
While this article is specifically about our PjM team, a lot of this also applies to other teams, too! Read on to find out more.
How do PjMs work at ExpressVPN?
PjMs are often assigned to one or more teams. A team might be totally cross-functional in nature with a mix of marketers, designers, engineers, and writers, for example. Or a team might be a single function like Frontend Developers. Teams generally have around 3-10 people in them, some of whom might be located in the same office as you, but many are also spread around the world.
Despite the “Marketing” in our job title, we don’t make marketing decisions as such, but rather work tightly alongside our specialists (product marketers, comms managers etc.) who do. This gives us a unique level of exposure to super interesting strategic marketing discussions, and although our role is around giving guidance on resourcing requirements, timelines, and risks, being in the room means we often get to give broader input, too.
Some of us also have a lot of exposure to our software engineers and fun new bits of tech being built in the company—it all depends on which teams we’re working with. The project managers who work heavily with the tech teams are generally those who have some experience or background in working with engineers, or those who are keen to learn!
PjM team structure
Our crew of 11 (and growing…) is a super friendly bunch, spanning a diverse range of cultures and backgrounds. We support each other, share nerdy Google-product tips and tricks on the regular, and aren’t shy in our use of emojis! You’ll find a healthy amount of banter in our Slack channel, as well as nuggets of advice, all wrapped up by our awesome Friday shout-outs as we celebrate our weekly successes. Because we are all assigned to support various teams, we don’t work directly together a lot of the time.
However, when our powers are combined it’s usually for:
Large projects that need more than one project manager
Knowledge sharing or skill development
When multiple cross-functional teams are working on something together
What are the biggest challenges for PjMs?
As we are in a fast-growth stage and most of us are juggling work across multiple, varied types of teams, it can be a challenge to stay on top of everything and battle the inefficiencies of context switching.
Saying ‘no’—People genuinely care here and really want to help each other out, and project managers are no different. In fact, we often tend towards being the more help-inclined types. Because we work so broadly, we have a great general company and process knowledge, and people often come to us for help and advice. Learning to say no at the right time is a challenge, but important to avoid getting overwhelmed.
Managing without authority. Yes, it’s a bit of a buzz term but it's an issue we face regularly, especially how to get people to do stuff for your project. It sounds easy but it can be challenging depending on who you need to do things for you! It’s actually something we commonly swap tips on as a team, finding the secret sauce of whether to Slack, call, meet, comment, or email key stakeholders to help us get things done more effectively!
What skills do you need to be a successful PJM at ExpressVPN?
We’re glad you asked! We are always looking for new and awesome teammates. Aside from the standard project management skills listed in our job ad (timelines, stakeholder management, requirement definition etc.), these are some of the things we think are extra important:
Highly organized: Keeping track of tons of tasks at a time and always being on top of the latest deadline doesn’t happen without a strong dose of organizational talent.
Super clear and concise written and verbal communication skills: We do A LOT of writing and talking to many different audiences.
Adaptability: Things change quickly around here and if you can adapt well, you’ll be in good stead.
People-person: If you enjoy interacting with people, you’ll enjoy your days here much more!
These are just some of the things we look out for during our hiring process. If you’re new to project management but have related experience, we are definitely open to hearing from you. Some of the backgrounds of our team include: account manager, campaign manager, business analyst, and traffic manager. We’d love to help you grow into a kick-a** project manager!