Akshay Kochar, Digital Project Manager
Project Manager, Agility Inc.
Akshay is a natural leader and planner who likes nothing better than to be given objectives for a new digital project and then drive it to success from start to finish.
A good way to encourage youth about tech careers, in Akshay’s opinion, is showcasing final digital projects - like cool new websites, apps or marketing campaigns – and then discussing the variety of tech professionals who are behind each project. “It’s not just coders or programmers – it takes a full team of account managers, project managers, designers, testers and more,” he says.
CareerMash interviewed Akshay to catch up on his success, see what he aspires to next and get some unique career advice. Read on to get inspired by his journey.
Education Path and Career
Akshay went to the University of Toronto to study accounting, but quickly switched his major to Digital Enterprise Management – a combination of business and technology – to better suit his career aspirations. “Combining business and technology courses can lead to a variety of fun and in demand careers and can give you the opportunity to explore different areas – from project management to public relations. With this skill set, you’ll never feel like you’re stuck in one career for life,” he says.
Sure enough, Akshay landed a great job the day after he graduated university!
The latest stop in his career is Agility Inc. – a company that developed a cloud-based content management system for managing websites. They help big name clients such as Cineplex, Shoppers Drug Mart, the Oprah Winfrey Network and Glow Magazine to maximize their website performance and design.
Combining Business and Technology
In his job as a project manager, Akshay mashes up technical knowledge, leadership, practical business sense and excellent communication skills to get projects done on time and on budget.
He monitors website improvement projects for Agility’s clients to ensure clients are satisfied with the final “look and feel” of their sites.
Technical skills are crucial in Akshay’s job: “some clients have the technical background and some don’t. You have to be able to answer even the most technical questions. If you keep telling people “I’ll get back to you on that” – you’ll quickly lose their confidence,” he says.
Being a Great Leader
Valuing your team and being able to take accountability is what makes leaders great. “Don’t think that you are the sole invaluable person and without you, the project would stop running – everything is a team effort. If you make a mistake during the course of a project, own up to it and discuss ways to fix it with your team – they’ll appreciate your honesty,” he says.
- In fourth year of university, Akshay was elected vice president of his program’s council. He also got a position at Guardly as an online marketing and social media intern.
- A professor recommended Agility. Akshay sent them his resume and a brief description of himself. They weren’t hiring but agreed to meet him for coffee. A month later they offered him a position.
- Akshay graduated university in June 2011 and started working at Agility as project coordinator that same month. Less than a year later, he got promoted to project manager!
- Akshay became Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) in April 2013.
- Akshay wants to continue growing in the project management field. Next on his list: getting a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification and a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) degree.
Akshay’s Best Career Advice
- Try everything. “If you’re not sure about a new opportunity – try it anyway. If you hate it – you’ll learn something new about yourself. If you like it – you’ll gain new experience. It’s a win-win situation.”
- Take a variety of courses. “Look for high school courses that teach you about project management and entrepreneurship. Try to take some tech courses so you get a flavor for the language.”
- Zero in on your skills. “Are you normally the leader in team assignments? If so, chances are you’d make a great project manager.”
- Organize. “Project managers need to have great organizational/planning skills to keep projects on track.”
- Ask for help. “It’s a waste of time to get stuck on something that you can’t figure out. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”
- Look out for yourself. “When making career moves, always know what’s best for you and what you’re trying to achieve.”
- Keep your interview skills sharp. “Even if you’re not looking for a new opportunity at that moment – apply and go out for interviews just to keep your skills fresh.”
- Find out how to become a tech project manager