With eight full years in the job, Igor Solunac is the longest-serving member of STP’s project management team.
As a senior PM, Igor has seen it all – and when it comes to productivity and great customer service, there’s little he doesn’t know. We asked him 20 quick-fire questions to find out some of his PMing secrets, and to see what makes him tick away from work.
Igor, which languages can you speak?
Serbian, Croatian, Russian, English, Danish, Swedish and Norwegian. The dead ones don’t count, do they? If they do, I also studied Latin and Old Slavonic.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
What first drew you to project management?
It was more of an arranged marriage than love at first sight. After almost ten years of freelancing as a translator/interpreter, where I was always conveying other people’s thoughts, and a few years of teaching, where I was helping others express themselves, I fancied a change. PMing was the logical choice, and that’s how I ended up at STP.
What do you enjoy most about PMing?
The fact that I can immerse myself in projects and be with my own thoughts. I think every translator-turned-PM enjoys that.
Which is your most productive day of the week?
Any day I have plans after work and absolutely must finish on time. That’s actually not a bad tip for junior PMs: if you want to be productive and keep a healthy work-life balance, make sure you have a busy social life. That said, the temptation to stay and work “just to finish this one little thing” is one I’ve yielded to many times.
What’s the most important quality for a good PM?
Communication skills. If you can’t handle people as well as you handle projects, you’re not a PM – you’re a robot.
What do you wish you’d known before you started PMing?
That it would make me even more of a control freak than I was to begin with.
If you could have a PM superpower, what would it be?
An ability to worry less about other people’s dramas. It’s something I could do with in my private life, too. I’m a people person, though, so I will always care more than I ought to.
What’s your idea of great customer service?
When the client is happy to come to you, knowing that they will get the best service. And when they leave delighted with the service you gave them. It’s not easy to reach that point, but it can be done – even with the toughest of them.
What’s your productivity secret?
Master the little things that most people can’t be bothered to learn properly. Touch typing, for instance, is a skill anyone can develop. But not many people make the effort, even though they use computers every day. The same goes for keyboard shortcuts.
There’s also a huge number of books on project management, productivity and efficiency that can really help. Applying what you learn isn’t always easy, and it takes persistence. After a while, though, it becomes second nature, and the gains quickly stack up.
If you could have another job for just one day, what would it be?
PM – as in prime minister.
How do you unwind after a busy day?
Read, listen to music, take long walks with my better half and socialise with friends.
Music while PMing – motivating or distracting?
Motivating, but you have to choose it carefully.
It’s fika time. Tea or coffee?
Do you have any hidden talents?
I used to be a chorister. Nowadays I mostly sing in the shower.
What’s your favourite word?
Ljubav. It means “love” in Serbian and I just love saying it.
Name one thing you couldn’t live without
Books. And I mean real ones. I do have a Kindle, but I just love the scent of paper.
Who do you most admire, and why?
A late family friend who taught me that we should only be ashamed of trying to be someone else, and not for being who we really are. Although she was disabled most of her life, she lived, loved, laughed and beamed with joy. I want to be that person, too.
Any words of wisdom for new PMs starting out in the job?
Don’t be afraid to be wrong. Listen carefully and learn from others. That way you’ll save yourself a lot of time, and you’ll bond with your colleagues much faster.
Describe STP in three words
Family. Friends. Fun.