John McGlynn, board chair
John is a Director at Atkins, a member of the SNC Lavalin Group, and one of the world’s leading design, engineering and project management consultancies known for its breadth and depth of expertise in responding to the most technically challenging and time critical projects. He has 30 years experience in delivering projects in Europe and the Middle East and the last decade he specialised in complex acquisition programmes. He is a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of three institutions the IET, CIPS, APM and is an APM Registered Project Professional (RPP).
John became a trustee of APM in 2014 and was elected Chair in November 2016. He has been instrumental in leading APM through the award of the Royal Charter and developing APM’s new strategy, Inspiring Positive Change.
APM board member interview
- Why and when did you decide to go into project management? Just after I graduated I won a scholarship from GEC and ended up working at GEC Hirst Research Centre in London. The GEC Technical Directorate was based there and in the event of any problems on GEC projects around the globe we were called upon to help out. I quickly saw the impact when projects go wrong so delivering projects successfully was on my radar pretty early. It kick started a lifelong passion for good project management and a passion for working with project teams and helping them deliver.
- Who was your first employer? My very first employer was Network Rail where I joined as a Telecommunications and Signaling apprentice. This was a two-year apprentice programme covering all aspects of railway signaling and communications which I completed alongside day release at the local technical college. I did everything from walking sections of track checking for faults through to helping design updates to communications systems.
- What are your career highlights? There have been several in my career including being awarded a GEC Fellowship early on and having the opportunity to lead diverse project teams in the UK, Europe and Middle East on a range of challenging projects. But I would single out being elected as Chair of APM by my fellow board members and this, coinciding with the year that APM has received its Royal Charter, is a very exciting time for the profession. I’m also acutely aware that I follow in the footsteps of esteemed predecessors including Dr Martin Barnes and Mike Nichols both previous Chairs of APM and I’m really proud to be able to build on their vision and foresight for the profession.
- When did you become a member of APM and what are the main benefits? I became a member in 2009. I found I was increasingly drawing on the good work which APM was leading in developing the Body of Knowledge and Competency Framework and wanted to get more involved.
- How important are professional project management qualifications? They are becoming increasingly important. Today, we know what needs to be done to deliver projects successfully but unfortunately that knowledge isn’t always applied so we still get too many instances of projects failing to deliver their expected benefits. The introduction of the Chartered Project Professional standard will help by providing recognition for those individuals who meet the criteria for Chartered status and raise the bar for project delivery. Qualifications themselves are only part of the answer, practical application and experience are equally important.
- How did you decide to stand for election? I was encouraged by a former board member to stand for election, I also felt that APM had achieved a lot but could do more by expanding its breadth into new sectors and getting involved earlier on in people’s career’s (i.e. schools and technical colleges).
- What does chartered status mean to you? It’s a major milestone in the professionalisation of project management and provides recognition of the discipline in its own right, providing the opportunity for people to pursue project management as a first career choice.
- Who has been the most influential in your career? Sir Peter Gershon and Ian King both outstanding leaders in their field.