The Drum recently spoke with 50,000feet Senior Project Manager, Brooke Pete, to discuss what her role entails and how she effectively runs projects and directs teams. After rejoining 50,000feet in December 2022 after a break from her previous three-year tenure, Brooke shares her unique experience as a “boomerang” employee and what a day in her life is like at the agency.
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What Do They Do All Day? 50,000feet’s Brooke Pete Explains the Project Manager Role
As part of our series demystifying the many job titles that make up adland, Brooke Pete, senior project manager at creative agency and brand consultancy 50,000feet, explains why her job is stressful — and vital to clients.
As a project manager, you have to be a people person. You’re directing everyone, every day, to reach certain goals. Eventually, because I do like speaking with people and managing people, I would like to become director level at some point.
It has to be innate. Some people are outgoing, some people aren’t. This job requires it.
I’ve been in project management probably for around 10 years. I started at a startup company for websites. That’s where I got the foundation — at a startup, you’re required to do everything. You’re managing development teams, running, you know, stakeholder meetings, doing interviews, even directing some of the creative process.
You can get certified in project management — it wasn’t around when I was in college — but really, if you want to become a project manager, you have to be good with details. You’re the person that everybody goes to ask about everything in a project. So you need to know timelines backward and forwards, know what every deliverable is, and what's needed to create it.
Usually, I start my mornings checking all my emails to make sure they’re responded to, and I’ll have meetings with the development team. Because I am the senior digital project manager over here, I do oversee their day-to-day and what they work on. And then my day goes into a lot of meetings.
Some of those are internal, making sure that everyone knows what they’re supposed to be doing and if there are any blockers that they foresee coming up and trying to mitigate those. By midday, I actually get to start doing some actual, you know, work on the project, which could be anything from preparing presentations, having some internal briefings with team members or reviewing risks and timelines.
I spend a lot of time thinking about risk. Even from the beginning of the project, you’re given due dates — you’re not the one giving them. A lot of the time, we’re working back from a project timeline and juggling lots of things, making sure they happen on an expedited timeline. That includes making sure we have the resourcing to handle all those different things that need to happen within a project.
My boss is the director of client success; I usually work with the strategy team, the creative team, the UX team, the copywriting team, and the development team.
Because I’m digital, I tend to shift from client to client, depending on what digital work is needed. Right now, I’ve been with a particular client for a while — since I started here — because they needed their websites reskinned to fit their new branding. Now, they’re working on a larger site because they’ve grown and acquired different companies. But a lot of times I’ll jump around where things are needed.
I have some weekly standing meetings with clients to give them project updates. Some of them are bi-weekly and there are always some presentations also peppered in during the week; I’m speaking with a client at least once a day. I’ll schedule and facilitate those calls to keep them moving, but if it’s a creative presentation, the creative director, or UX lead, or designers will take the presentation.
I've been at 50,000feet for about eight months, though l’m a boomerang employee — I was here four or five years ago, and then I took some time off to have kids.
I thought there would be more times when I didn’t know what to do. But a lot of the people that were here previously are still here and I just got thrown back into it. And everyone still likes me here, so that’s good.
I’m not sure how other agencies are. But 50,000feet is very flexible. We can come into the office or we can stay at home and as long as you’re getting work done and clients are happy. You can take that personal time if you have an appointment or something, for example.
There are definitely days when it is crunch time, and you’ll spend more than 40 hours a week making sure something goes out on time. But that doesn’t happen more than a few times a year.
It’s a stressful job. If things are over budget or you’re not sticking to the scope or the timeline, everything tends to fall on you. But I love seeing how projects come to be at the end and being part of that success.