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Not just another conference; why the APM Programme Management conference might just be right for you

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Why bother going to a conference? They can be huge, impersonal events, full of people desperate to flog you their wares, not to mention endless presentations in darkened rooms, with much of the content unrelated to the work that you do. No attraction there… but perhaps some conferences are completely different. 

If you’re a programme manager, or an aspiring programme manager, you might be wondering what the upcoming APM Programme Management SIG conference on 14th March will be like. This blog shares my experience of ProgM SIG conferences over several years, and looks forward to what’s coming up on the programme in this year’s conference. I hope this taster will help you choose if it would be a good fit for you and your colleagues. 

First of all, the numbers are small enough that you won’t disappear in a sea of people. With around 100 attendees, I find I have the chance to meet new people and spot old friends, without being overwhelmed by the crowds. After lunch, there are workshops where interaction with others is a key part of their design. This year, you’ll have the choice of either exploring Ethics and Dilemmas in programmes with me in a workshop (bring some of your own dilemmas if you want to), or one on Leadership Challenges in a VUCA world with Sarafine Baz. Even in the main sessions, the conference is laid out in round tables, so there are lots of chances to talk to others around you and compare notes. I find this a really good way of networking gently and it’s so much better than being in a darkened lecture all day. 

Another way I value the conference is hearing from leading practitioners, often those who have won the APM Programme of the Year award. This year is no different and I’m looking forward to hearing Stuart Earl from Gleeds share their winner’s case study and  Rolls Royce’s Harry Keeling will share his perspective on how programme management is helping them to change the future of energy. Continuing our conference focus on sustainability, we have a non-governmental organisation WRAP coming to share their perspective on programmes that change the way we deal with waste, which is crucial for net zero. You have probably never heard of WRAP, but I bet you have come across their programmes, such as ‘Love Food, Hate Waste’? 

The world is changing fast and programme managers need to keep up. One area that has a huge potential to affect us in our work is Artificial Intelligence. Sarah Reed will be sharing her experience of using AI on projects and I’m looking forward to finding out how AI can help us all, as well as the challenges it presents. We’ll hear too about how programme frameworks can help programme managers, from Babcock International’s Alan Young and Raminder Jaswal. Near the start of the day, Caroline Lassen will share the Mace perspective on what a delivery partner is. All of this is useful content for keeping up with our profession. 

There will be a small number of exhibitors, with stalls relevant to our profession, which you’re welcome to visit if you’d like to, but you won’t have to push past them to get anywhere. Generally, I find these stalls useful to visit and to learn from.  

What’s the best thing about the programme management conference for me? It’s being together in-person with other people who share my professional interest in programme management and who want to make the world a better place through beneficial change, using the skills and knowledge which we polish there together. Does that appeal? If so, come along on 14th March and meet others like you. Don’t forget to say hello! I’d love to introduce you to the rest of the volunteers who have put this conference together as well.


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