Digital projects are unique, and take a special sort of someone to see them through. When you’re orchestrating sites, apps, interactive experiences and such, you have your hands in all the pots: strategy, content, UX, design, tech, QA, et al. You soothe clients and team members when things don’t go right, manage the project plans, the budgets and the timelines. You’re first on scene to the dumpster fires, extinguish them with humor and humility and rally your team to bring a shared vision to life.

DPMs are natural leaders…but they’re not always seen as such. What gives?

Project Management is Like Air Quality

Meghan McInerny, Chief Operating Officer at Clockwork, has a theory—and an impressive rap sheet to boot. Meghan’s been an Account Executive, Copywriter, Interactive Project Manager, Strategist and Creative Director. She co-authored the book Interactive Project Management: Pixels, People and Process, founded the Twin Cities Interactive Project Management Meetup and co-launched the Geek Girls Guide. Today, she oversees the planning and execution of web, mobile and application development projects at Clockwork, and serves on the boards of three nonprofits: GiveMN, Bollywood Dance Scene and Still Kickin’.


As Meghan sees it, several things keep DPMs from seeing themselves as leaders. And just as many keep organizations from valuing them as such, including:

  • A lot of people don’t know what project managers do

  • People tend to remember the bad, but not the good

  • When DPMs do their jobs really well, their work is almost invisible

  • Organizations see project management as a tactical role because they have trouble pointing to what DPMs do

  • There’s no career path for project management so DPMs need to be their best advocates

“Project management is like air quality. If you can see it, it’s probably killing you.” — Meghan McInerny

Level Up: Project Management as a Leadership Role

Sound familiar? If so, it’s time to shake things up. Tune into Meghan’s presentation, “Level Up: Project Management as a Leadership Role,” and discover the eight features of a leader. Learn how you can lead with influence, rather than a title.

What Does the Future Hold?

For the industry as a whole, Meghan thinks digital project management will shift more towards coaching as delivery teams become more self-directed. “We will continue to be the eye of the storm between client, organization and delivery team, but the role will become less tactical and more strategic. And flying cars.” Read 11 industry pros’ predictions, and add your own.