The past few weeks have, for many, proved to be the most difficult of the year. As a leader, a peer and a colleague, I have certainly seen the most significant impact on people’s wellbeing during the past month.
Just as we all started to feel we were emerging from what has been a truly challenging year and able to start looking to the future again, it feels like we have been sent back to the beginning to face the challenge all over again; but without the energy, novelty value of being at home and the sense of belief that maybe we had the first time.
There are some industries where the impact is truly awful. Although many people in the project profession have also been impacted, there are many positives we can build on to create a bright and optimistic future. For me, this is the time to dig deep, implement the positive lessons we have learnt and to take care of people. If we do this, we can emerge stronger and better, delivering more positive change in just one year than might have taken 10 years in normal times.
Please don’t get me wrong. I know the suffering for some has been immense and I am in no way underplaying that, but, as a profession, we also have an opportunity within our grasp to make a real difference to the way we work, how diverse and flexible we can be, and to have a positive impact on both our professional and private lives. Project practitioners can and should seize that.
Over the course of the past eight months APM has implemented more changes than we ever thought possible and has established new ways of working that are showing benefits to many different stakeholder groups, be it members, candidates, staff, assessors, suppliers and new audiences across the globe. Many of the changes we made, we now want to make permanent and to embed in our new ways of working. As social beings, there are things we really miss. We look forward to the return of face-to-face interaction, but we have made a step change that we shouldn’t assume needs to be reversed.
At the beginning of lockdown we had plans to launch a new online platform for APM qualifications in July. We bought this forward to April to support candidates, training providers and corporate customers and now over 6,000 candidates have successfully sat qualifications on a system that wasn’t even live until April. Every party in the chain had to change to make this possible and at times it has been tough, but we now have a solution that many feel hugely positive about. Our online webinars, run by our volunteers, have attracted over 10,000 attendees and our conferences engaged with new audiences around the globe, with many more people able to listen to the recordings than would ever have been able to attend in person. Our podcasts have enabled project professionals in the field to share their current experiences, allowing others to learn from them immediately as we see new more flexible project governance frameworks emerge.
We’ve continued to produce content and resources to support those in the UK during periods of local or national lockdown. With a second national lockdown now starting in England, we will continue working to support the wellbeing and professional development of project and programme managers.
The team at APM feels positive and engaged, and are enjoying the flexibility that working at home brings them. I know that employees at many other organisations feel the same, so there is much to be celebrated. Project managers, like other professionals, look forward to having a choice about meeting face to face and being able to share experiences in the same room but the progress made during this difficult period can also be celebrated and give us a great basis on which to build the future. I encourage you all to dig deep over the coming weeks and take time to reflect on the good that has come from this most difficult of years and look to a positive future.
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