Charlie Griffiths's story
I’m a project manager at Optronics, and predominantly work on development projects. The core Optronics business is to design and manufacture Infrared (IR) Detectors and cameras. I am responsible for keeping the project on schedule, to budget, and ensuring the quality of the deliverables is satisfactory.
This involves day-to-day planning and management of activities as well as interaction with and reporting to key stakeholders.
I graduated from the University of Bath with a Masters in Chemical Engineering and experience from various engineering roles in industry. I then moved into a project officer/ project manager Graduate Scheme at Leonardo MW in Southampton after which I became a full-time project manager.
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Describe your career journey so far
I spent the first year of a two-year Graduate Scheme in the Project Office, managing SAP Plans for large-scale development and support contracts in the Defence Communications Systems Line of Business (LoB). I was also responsible for schedule and risk management on a major development project for the LoB.
For the second year I moved into the Optronics LoB in Southampton as a project manager, and am still there, completing the graduate scheme. In that period I have managed a major development project, a volume production project, research and development projects for space applications, conducted various business winning activities and have also been seconded to Australia to support cost control and re-baselining activities on a key development project for the Land & Naval Division.
What kinds of projects do you work on, and what role do you play?
As a project manager at Optronics I predominantly work on development projects. The core Optronics business is to design and manufacture Infrared (IR) detectors and cameras. I am responsible for keeping the project on schedule, to budget, and ensuring that the quality of the deliverables is satisfactory. This involves day to day planning and management of activities as well as interaction with, and reporting to, key stakeholders.
Tell us about your proudest moment in your career so far
When I moved to Optronics, I was originally tasked as a deputy project manager, however events led to me having the opportunity to act as interim project manager on a major development project. After a month in Optronics, I had coordinated preparation of material for a Preliminary Design Review and chaired the review successfully to the satisfaction of the Customer. Following this the Programme Manager appointed me as full-time PM on the project.
Tell us about a challenge you have had to overcome in your career, and what you learnt from the experience.
Moving into Optronics as a project manager rather than a deputy meant taking on much more responsibility than I was originally expecting. Having no previous experience of being a project manager meant I had to work hard to ensure I knew what I had to do to manage the project effectively. The programme manager and the company put their faith in me, whilst making sure there was a sufficient support network to help, which meant that I could apply what I was learning through APM to a relatively new project. I was lucky to have this opportunity and it really helped me to develop as a project manager.
What advice would you give to somebody new to the project profession?
One bit of advice I would give to a new project manager is to talk to as many people as you can in the business area you’re going into when you start, and not just within project management! This is a good opportunity to find out more about the business processes and products, as well as introduce yourself to those who will likely be key stakeholders on future projects.
Explain your decision to become a member of APM
Leonardo promotes the use of APM principles within their project management function, as APM provides a number of tools that can be used to effectively manage projects. As I was new to the profession I also wanted to increase my understanding of project management, and APM provides a significant resources that can be used to this end, which is why I became a member.
How does APM membership help you in your job role, career and studies?
When starting in project management I attended a number of APM webinars to learn about the basics, such as stakeholder management and scheduling. I also completed the APM Introductory Certificate Qualification which gave me a useful overview of project management.
Once I had gained a couple of years’ experience, I completed the APM PMQ qualification through Leonardo. This was a ‘Living Learning’ programme over 12 weeks rather than the 1 week intensive option. The aim of this was to apply learning to different aspects of your role and projects. Learning in this way also helped me to understand how principles are applied in practice.