Alan is a director with CHUK, the UK company whose US parent, CH2M HILL, is the worlds number one programme management company (US ENR Rankings every year 2004-2012). Their major UK roles include Programme Delivery Partner on the Olympic Park, Cross Rail, High Speed 2, Thames Tunnels and Dounreay Nuclear Decommissioning.
Alan joined CHUK after 34 years in the British Army with 20 years in defence acquisition. His last tour as a major general included being the MoDs Programme and Project Management (PPM) skills champion running the MoDs PPM Centre of Excellence with a PjM licensing programme aligned to APM qualifications. Earlier PPM roles included being programme manager (at separate times!) for all Battlefield Training Systems, for the fleet of Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships and for all Armoured Fighting Vehicles.
Higher education and qualifications include: a first class degree from St Johns College Cambridge in Engineering; an EMS in executive management from Manchester Business School; Chartered Engineer and a Fellow of both Institution of Civil Engineers and Institution of Royal Engineers; Certificate in Company Direction from the Institute of Directors; Cabinet Office High Risk Gateway Review Team Leader; as well as being a Registered Project Professional.
He was a trustee on the Royal Engineers Charities Committee and formally registered with Companies House as a director of Moss House Residents Company Limited. Less formally, he held many company director equivalent MoD appointments and is currently chairman of Trewince Lodge Owners Association. He is a member of the APM ProgM SIG Committee.
APM board member interview
- Why and when did you decide to go into project management? As a Royal Engineers officer in the British Army, one of my first roles was to deliver a construction task. That was 1980 and I have never looked back! When you are in the Army you are taught military doctrine and the leadership of people. The real skill in project management is how to apply processes to people and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances. You are taught this in the military so many officers have intuitive project management skills. It is a transferable skill set but you need to know the language of project management to make the transition.
- Who was your first employer? Ministry of Defence – for the first 34 years of my career.
- What are your career highlights?
- Leading my unit on operations in the Falklands and Bosnia
- Being appointed as the MoD’s Programme & Project Management Skills Champion. I mentored and coached colleagues to look at their projects in PM terms and this was hugely successful and rewarding
- The London 2012 Olympic Park and Programme Manager roles with my second employer who has the Global #1 Programme Management Company for the past decade (according to the US NCE equivalent – Engineering News Record)
- Election to the Board of APM and my subsequent roles on the Board
- When did you become a member of APM and what are the main benefits? 2011 – when I left the MoD; The main benefit is the opportunity to give back to the profession something to reflect what I have derived from it.
- How important are professional project management qualifications? Hugely. They are the independent mark of quality that is a major factor in defining ‘professionalism’.
- How did you decide to stand for election? Discussion with the APM chief executive at a time when APM was trying to encourage more active participation from Government.
- What difference do you make to APM as a board member? I think you should ask board colleagues that one!
- What keeps you interested in project management? The scale of investment in change to drive our future in this country (and the world) means that the profession is at the heart of our future – even if not everyone recognises this!
- What advice would you give to someone starting out in project management
- Consider making it your primary career anchor (for many it is a ‘second string’ to their ‘main’ profession).
- Master the fundamentals
- Why should someone consider project management as a career of first choice? I didn’t start formally as a project manager until I was in my 40's. I trained as an engineer but there were notertiary project management qualifications when I started. People now have the opportunity to enter project management at a younger age. There is a recognised learning ladder in project management, gaining qualification and experience to develop your career. An excellent path for young new comers is to learn project controls – from there you can make the move to become a project manager.
- Who has been the most influential in your career? In P3M terms. Sir John Armitt: not only for the London Olympics but also for ‘how’ he delivered programmes and projects as much as ‘which’ ones he delivered. He created the environment for people to succeed.