Siân Church – Project manager at Nexus
I had decided to do an MA in Interior Design (first degree was also Interior Design) and the course was modular, commercially focused and covered disciplines such as Facilities Management and Project Management. It was during the first day of the Project Management module that I had my epiphany. I had finally discovered what I wanted to be when I grew up!
At 34 years of age I made the decision to carry on with the Masters as I had expended a significant amount of time, energy and money up to that point. I’m really pleased I did as it gave me the confidence to change career; if I can focus for four years (three for PGDip and one for MA) whilst doing a full time job and get offered a PhD as result of my Masters dissertation, I can do anything! The best decision I ever made was to move north in 2008 (at 36 years old) where I had a clean slate to start my project management career.
The photos below are of the new TVM (Ticket Vending Machine), card Validator and Gatelines that brought Smart Ticketing to Metro. I was the Assistant Project Manager and assisted the Project Manager in all aspects of project delivery ranging from report writing, to Factory Acceptance Testing, to standing on a platform in the wind and the rain commissioning TVMs! Very proud that Nexus, which owns, manages and is modernising Metro, along with its main contractors Ecebs and Scheidt and Bachmann, won Best Smart Ticketing Service at the 2015 Transport Ticketing Awards in London.
Who was your first employer?
As a Project Manager, it was Your Homes Newcastle Community Care Alarm Service but, out of university the first time round, it was the Kent Messenger Newspaper in Telesales.
What are your career highlights?
Securing my current job; I am the Project Manager for the £500m Newcastle Metro fleet replacement project.
How important, do you believe, are professional project management qualifications?
Personally I think they are very important as it shows a potential employer that you have an academic understanding of your subject matter at the very least. If you are able to further your education in your current role it shows your employer that you are serious about learning and improving.
I was required to have Prince2 Foundation to secure my first role at Nexus in 2011 but since then I think that there is more awareness of other qualifications, eg. APM Project Professional Qualification.
What keeps you interested in project management?
No one day is the same. It is demanding, frustrating and yes, sometimes the only thing that is right in the world of projects is gin & tonic, but… I love what I do!
What advice would you give to someone starting out in project management?
Get an introductory level project management course under your belt and apply for junior project positions so you can learn on the job. Also, go to a temporary recruitment agency and see if you can get onto a project in a temp role. That’s how I have ended up getting every permanent job (in and out of project management) for the last 20 years!
Who has been the most influential in your career?
Definitely Lysa Morrison of LMA Training & Consultancy. Lysa is an NLP Practitioner who has worked with me on several occasions in the capacity of a ‘life coach’. Using NLP techniques, she pushed me to analyse what I was doing and why so that I could identify what I wanted to do and how I was going to do it. That focus has enabled me to get to where I am now in my career and I’m not sure I would have done so without her.
What does APM's Chartered status mean to you?
It signifies that a discipline is recognised and an individual has reached a level of competence and experience. I will be applying for Chartered status next year, which is both scary and exciting in equal measures!