Please tell us about yourself
Hi there! I’m Hailey, a virtual project manager out of Normal, IL. My business is BrainSpace Optimized, and we work to help tech leaders manage strategic internal projects.
My team and I are kind of obsessive about helping tech leaders become more available, generous, and accomplished. We do that by helping them drive their most important missions home (via virtual project management).
At home, I am wife to a carpenter and mom to a 3-year-old. I spend most of my free time listening to audiobooks & podcasts and doing DIY projects on our house.
What is virtual project management?
Virtual project management is when a person is responsible for bringing an endeavor to completion through planning and resource management.
We like to add on the additional identifier of doing this all from afar – hence the virtual part!
What is the difference between this and the virtual assistance niche?
There are a few distinctions between a VPM (virtual project manager) and a general VA– but the most significant identifier is how involved with the strategy and planning stage each is.
As a VPM, your clients will look to you to make planning and resource decisions on their behalf (or in conjunction with them). The expectation is that you will be guiding and driving the effort, doing or delegating tasks as necessary. The expectation for a general VA is that they are working from a list of to-dos already outlined.
Why and how did you decide to pursue this career?
I have a professional background (I spent several years in a great office as an HR professional) and while I loved my company, sitting at my desk for hours on end was wearing me down.
After a stint of staying home, I started a VA business. I realized pretty quickly that I didn’t like taking orders. I really enjoyed getting to ask questions and strategize with my clients and then help driving out the plan.
That’s what I love about project management. I can get paid to do the strategy that I love and clients get the outcomes they desire.
Why did you choose Gina’s 30 Days Or Less to Virtual Assistant Success?
There are a lot of VA ‘gurus’ out there but I appreciated two things right off the bat with Gina. First, she’s really down to earth and doesn’t over-romanticize working for yourself. It’s awesome, but its still work!
Secondly, her course was the only one that I saw that paid just as much attention to both the skill sets you offer and the marketing/sales of your business. Both are really important!
Tell us about the project management course you and Gina just worked on together?
Sure! Gina and I just launched Project Management for Virtual Assistants. This course is all about how to offer virtual project management services – we cover everything from how to find your first clients, to how to actually execute on a project.
It’s made to be digestible, and really hands-on, so you get a lot of practical experience before you’re even done with the course! We launched a beta version in November of 2018, and it will go live again in January of 2019.
How much do you make a month? Do you work part time or full time?
Our monthly revenue from client work in Q3 (which doesn’t include things like revenue from writing or speaking, etc.) was an average of $5,580/mo.
I worked about 20-25 hours a week, so part-time (I’m also the main caregiver for our son).
What are your expenses (business-related expenses)?
I spend about $1200/month on outsourced help (contractors, coaching, etc.). My other expenses are minimal. There are a few softwares I subscribe to like Xero, Grammarly, Google Suite, and Acuity Scheduling.
And at least once a quarter I’m purchasing learning material like courses. So my non-people spend is a few hundred dollars a month.
What are your duties? Can you describe a day in your life?
As a work-from-home mom and VPM, I spend about 20-25 hours a week on my client work. I base my workload off of what I can accomplish in the 28 hours a week that I have childcare.
This has changed during different seasons of life, but currently, I work 3-4 hours on Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays (my husband works half-days on those days). On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I work from 8 am – 4 pm (when my son goes to daycare).
In the early part of my week, I usually block off as much time as I can for focused client work which consists of project tasks I haven’t delegated out to my team member or my client’s team. I do my best to schedule most of my video meetings and phone calls on Tuesdays and Thursday afternoons. I designate Thursdays and Fridays to update my team on project progress and having 1 on 1 conversation with my own team.
I also spend about 3-4 hours each week working on my own projects and the necessary to-dos for my own business. So time fills up quickly!
What is your least favorite part/hardest part of being a virtual project manager?
My least favorite part is knowing that my reach into an organization only goes so far. It can be tough to be really excited about a project’s potential and then when business priorities change, see the project change dramatically or be scrapped altogether. I only have so much influence in an organization that I don’t have control over.
What is your favorite part of being a virtual project manager?
I love being able to unblock people. By that I mean, when team members have a problem, I really like that part of my job is to work with them to find a way around a problem.
I love using the tools, connections, and resource that I have/know to help other people keep things moving! It’s a fun challenge!
What traits do you feel are necessary to be a good, successful VPM? Which ones are taught and which ones are inherent?
People that make strong project managers are good under stress, good at prioritizing, think well on their feet, strong communicators, and are disciplined with their time/attention.
I think any of these can be inherent in a person, but the good thing is, they are all also learned traits that you can improve upon over time!
Do you have any advice for someone considering this career?
Yes! The project management world is large and can feel intimidating. My advice is to not worry about certifications and courses to make you an ‘official’ project manager.
Worry about solving your clients and team’s problems. That’s what a project manager a good one- not a slip of paper with your name on it. 🙂
Any final thoughts?
Hailey is the head Project Manager at BrainSpace Optimized. She and her team are obsessive about helping tech leaders become more available, generous, and accomplished. Want to get in on that? Get in touch! At home, Hailey is wife to a talented carpenter, mom to one wily toddler and spends her free time reading, traveling and working on their home.