what is a program manager?

As a program manager, you are responsible for operations in a company and progress towards its goals. Unlike working on a specific project, you oversee all activities to ensure they run smoothly. You manage complex operations and ensure all interconnected parts work together to keep the business growing.

The program manager role involves laying out the strategy for the organisational goals and managing the resources and people in the company. Hence, your job is to review production, come up with projects, and constantly develop new objectives to keep the business profitable.

Since you focus on the company's vision, you ensure all projects and activities contribute towards business success. You draw roadmaps with schedules and budgets and anticipate possible problems or complications. You collaborate with various teams within the organisation to ensure their projects are successful. For instance, you avail the necessary resources to product and project managers to speed the development of projects. With your bird's-eye view of all aspects of the company, you can provide strategic guidance.

As a program manager, you work for large organisations in a fast-paced industry dealing with interconnected projects. You have various statistical tools and techniques at your disposal to assist with analysis and developing organisational goals.

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average salary of a program manager

Program managers occupy a senior position overseeing related projects in a company. Hence, the earnings reflect the complexity of the tasks. According to Payscale, program managers in India working in IT take home an average salary of ₹2,238,779 per year. At an entry-level position, you have minimal experience and are likely to earn an average salary of ₹930,000 annually. Top-level program managers take home over ₹4 million yearly.

The earnings for program managers vary based on the area of specialisation. For instance, a government program manager in India earns a median salary of ₹585,549 per year, according to Payscale. The diversity of the roles in different sectors impacts the earnings significantly. When you have complex responsibilities, you take home a higher salary.

factors that affect the salary of a program manager

Your experience and qualifications are the main determinants of your salary. Having some years of experience under your belt boosts your earnings significantly. The company you work for also affects your salary. Working in the public sector pays less compared to private sector jobs. Non-profit organisations (NPOs) may also have lucrative compensation packages for program managers.

randstad workmonitor 2023
randstad workmonitor 2023

types of program managers

As a program manager, you can focus on serving internal and external teams or concentrate on the company's infrastructure and products.

  • internal program manager: your focus is on initiatives that improve the performance of the company's teams. For instance, you create programs that enhance productivity and performance, like introducing information technology resources.
  • external program manager: you concentrate on projects that serve third-party partners and customers. Your job is to ensure business decisions don't have a negative impact on your clients. You also negotiate contracts and improve corporate social responsibility.
  • products and services program managers: as a program manager, you are involved in product planning and coordinate product delivery as per the schedule. You also identify bottlenecks and develop ways to improve efficiency.

working as a program manager

A program manager role allows you to supervise and coordinate various projects simultaneously. You also improve the efficiency and performance of different teams by providing the necessary resources.


education and skills

To work as a program manager in India, you require educational qualifications. The preferred academic track depends on the area of specialisation and the employer. However, a background in business administration, computer science or marketing is a great start. Having postgraduate qualifications in the relevant domains boosts your employment prospects.

You also require extensive experience in your area of expertise. Start in an entry-level position and progress to higher managerial levels. Most employers require five years of experience, which you can gain through internships and junior-level positions. You should also consider enrolling for certifications to boost your skills, like obtaining a PG Management Professional or Associate in Project Management (APM) certificate from the Global Association for Quality Management (GAQM).

program manager skills and competencies

Some of the soft skills of a program manager include:

  • resource management skills: as a program manager, you need exceptional skills in allocating and identifying resources to ensure projects work as planned. That means you should have contingency plans that address risks and costs. For instance, you need backup plans if a contract falls through or the materials prices increase at the beginning of a project.
  • negotiation skills: programs involve various moving parts, and you negotiate contracts with suppliers and work with project managers. As a program manager, negotiation skills help you sell ideas and influence others to work towards your goals.
  • analytical skills: you need analytical skills to collect and integrate data from various programs into your decision-making. Analytical skills also help you identify issues in the projects and find solutions.
  • leadership skills: as a program manager, you need leadership and project management skills to turn project plans into realities. You can identify people's strengths and weaknesses and assign tasks appropriately with leadership skills. You also motivate and inspire team members throughout the programs.

FAQs about working as a program manager

Here, you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the profession of a program manager.

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