Forward Momentum Requires Bravery: Insights From a Project Management Leader and Recruiter

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Photos courtesy of Maggie Crowe and Alison Frees.

Photos courtesy of Maggie Crowe and Alison Frees.

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Considering taking a big leap in your career but worried about if it will work out?  “Do not sell yourself short,” advises Alison Frees, the Senior Vice President, Agile Program Management at Publicis Sapient. “Forward momentum requires bravery and women, for the most part, shy away from applying for the next role.” But, if you don’t take the leap, you’ll never grow. 

To help yourself in this process, you can “lean on your network and don’t be afraid to get on a call with anyone or everyone,” suggests Maggie Crowe, a Senior Associate, Talent Acquisition at the company. “Be open to creative ways for gathering direct experience in the industry and role you are targeting; for example, you could look at a contract role as almost an internship or stepping-stone to get your foot in the door.”

And, if your first step doesn’t work out, that doesn’t mean you should stop trying! As Crowe says, “when one door closes, another one opens!” Frees agrees, noting that “you absolutely can and should try again.” It’s liberating to know that you can “reach out to others, explain your true intentions in a humble way, and ask to try again,” Frees explains. In her experience, she’s learned how important it is to always be active when encountering obstacles.

This is only the start of the great advice Frees and Crowe have for advancing your career. Drawing from a wealth of experience in recruiting, Frees (who leads a team of 320 Agile Program Managers across North America in the delivery of Digital Business Transformation programs on behalf of clients) and Crowe (who hires technology professionals for Publicis Sapient), share their best tips with you in this article. Keep reading for advice on everything from applying to a job to acing your interview…

To start, what tips do you have for making your application and skills standout, especially if you’re trying to break into a new industry or role type?

Crowe: Look through job descriptions of the new role you are looking to target and make sure that the most transferable skills are easy to find and first on your resume.

Frees: Definitely do your research on the firm, the culture, and potential roles. I am always willing to take a leap for a candidate who shows that they are a self-starter, curious, and objective about where they are and what they still need to learn. Doing interest interviews in a new industry is very helpful in understanding the lingo and the general expectations. I find that, often, a seed is planted in those connections that can later grow into a productive role.

Next, let’s talk about the interview process. What are your go-to interview questions for all candidates?


  • Why are you looking to make the move out of your current role?

  • Where do you want to be in five-to-seven years?

  • Walk me through your resume. (Here, interviewees should have a clear and concise response that highlights why they made the move from one company/role to the next.)

  • Pick soft skills off the job description and ask about where they have used that skill in a professional setting.

Frees: I find that the most telling interview question is focused on what candidates don’t want to do. It’s often surprising to find that people are not aware of their own boundaries, and it usually requires some introspection before answering. I find that these answers are often the most honest because the standard career objectives questions are often well rehearsed.

What are your biggest tips for what NOT to do when applying or interviewing at a company?

Crowe: Don’t forget to be yourself! You are an expert on yourself so there is no reason to be so nervous!

Frees: Do not show up to an interview without reviewing what is on your target company's website. Burning time in an interview by getting briefed on what can easily be researched does not allow your interviewer to get to know you. 

Also, come prepared with one-to-two questions. I find it to be a major red-flag if a candidate has no questions at the end of a session. Finding a new career should have benefits to the employer and benefits to the employee; when you have no questions, it makes me concerned that you are just looking for a job, any job, and not a career with us.

What are the top qualities you look for when you’re interviewing a candidate for a role in your industry?


  1. Strong communication skills, 

  2. An interest in always continuing to learn and ask questions, and

  3. An ability to answer questions directly and efficiently, and 

  4. Experience collaborating and working through dynamic challenges.


  1. A strong bias for action indicating leadership skills, 

  2. A deep empathy and curiosity to navigate change effectively, and

  3. Analytical problem-solving skills built on a depth of experience in both agile and project management.

As a recruiter, what are a few things about your company that you always make sure to highlight when talking to a candidate?

Crowe: Our flexibility, the internal lateral growth opportunities, autonomy, and the collaboration/learning we can provide are some of the best in the business.

Frees: Our company takes our core values very seriously, which differentiates us from the competition. We are a company built on a sense of entrepreneurship, which will allow you opportunity should you choose to take it. We also have a wealth of knowledge inside of our walls for you to engage with and learn from. 

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