All good things must come to an end – reflections of my time as APM chair
When I was asked how best to sum up my time as a trustee and chair of Association for Project Management (APM), I didn’t expect it to be easy.
A lot can happen in four years and that has certainly been the case since I was elected to the position of chair in November 2016. I’d been a trustee of the organisation from November 2014 when I was elected by the membership to join the board, so I had a good understanding of both the challenges and the opportunities on taking on the chair’s role. I was really pleased to be able to work with the board of trustees and the APM executive team to shape APM’s vision and develop key strategic goals which have served the organisation well and led to an extended period of growth for both APM and the profession over my time as chair.
One of the things I was most passionate about – and remain so – was APM being awarded the Royal Charter, which we achieved in January 2017. The Charter represented a significant milestone in the development of APM but also, crucially, the project profession. For the first time, project professionals were on a par with other more established professions such as engineering or accountancy. It also paved the way for APM to transition to a full Chartered body in April 2017.
Today, Chartered Project Professional (ChPP) status is an established and recognised benchmark of quality and professionalism and I’m proud to have been a part of turning that ambition into a reality. A particular high point was being able to personally congratulate our first cohort of ChPPs at a special ceremony in January 2019.
Representing APM at events was always part of the role I particularly enjoyed, so it was a pleasure to participate in the launch of the landmark research report, The Golden Thread, in April 2019. The report was the first time that the true economic impact of the project profession had been revealed. And what an impact. The research, conducted in partnership with PwC, found the project profession employs 8 per cent of the UK full time equivalent workforce and contributes £156.5 billion of annual Gross Value Added (GVA) to the UK economy each year. Such was the significance and influence of this report that two follow-ups have since been published, diving deeper into the value of project-related work in various regions of the UK and in various industry sectors.
The role of chair also enabled me to serve APM as an ambassador for the profession. One of my fondest memories is visiting the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) in Copenhagen with other APM delegates to discuss opportunities for supporting senior UN project staff to gain chartered status.
While these events stand out for obvious reasons, it’s an unfortunate reality that any position of responsibility will have less-positive experiences too. I’m sure I speak for everyone at APM and our members when I say the the coronavirus pandemic has left an indelible mark. While this outbreak occurred towards the end of my time as chair, the profound nature of its impact has made it a significant event of my tenure. APM approached the challenge with absolute professionalism and the measures that were put in place helped minimise impact on our business activities so we can continue to deliver value to our members and be ready to help shape the new normal.
There have been other challenges along the way too, of course. An organisation like APM thrives on remaining relevant, adaptable and at the forefront of knowledge and research at all times. Qualities such as these don’t just happen by themselves. The APM Board has worked tirelessly to ensure the organisation has the right strategic approach to provide its members – and the wider profession – with the resources and sense of community it needs to be able to grow and thrive. I’ve been proud to work alongside some incredible people to make sure this continues in the long term.
So, how best sum up the last four years?
Without doubt it has been an honour and a privilege to chair the board. Being elected by your peers is a special moment and one that comes with significant responsibility. Not only do you have the fiduciary responsibilities which go with being a trustee of a charitable organisation, but you take on a significant leadership role as well – the buck stops with you. It has been hugely rewarding to see APM’s growth over the last four years in membership, in influence and in stature. APM today is an award-winning professional body led by an outstanding team under the leadership of the CEO Debbie Dore with first class governance through the CoSec skills of Mike Robinson.
There is of course still more to do. As I step down as chair of APM and welcome Debbie Lewis into the role, I have every confidence that APM will continue to inspire communities to deliver meaningful change for societal benefit by advancing the art, science, theory and practice of project management.
Read the big interview with Debbie Lewis in the Autumn 2020 issue of Project.
Image: Azat Valeev/shutterstock