What does it take to become a world class profession?
This was the question posed to over 400 delegates at the award winning APM conference held in London yesterday. For the 15 speakers who conducted over 20 individual streams and keynote speeches, being world class is a mindset. “You have to believe you are world class,” explained Tony Meggs, chief executive of the Infrastructure and Projects Authority, “and you won’t know when you have achieved it, as being world class is different for everyone”.
For Tony, great project leaders deliver great projects. They are passionate about “driving things forward and getting stuff done... being the project leader is like being the CEO of that part of the organisation”. Most importantly, “you have to believe your project is achievable, if you don’t believe in it, you can’t deliver it; you have to commit.”
With over £483bn entrusted to project managers to deliver over 600 projects across the UK, the need for good people with ethics and commitment in the profession was emphasised throughout many of the streams during the day.
With this level of investment and risk in the hands of project managers, Michael Flynn, programme director for TFL, questioned, “aren’t we a world class profession already? Who else would you rely on to deliver these projects with complete certainty"?
"Surely those who don’t have credibility can’t carry the badge of ‘project manager’?”
But with no compulsory qualifications, how can you ascertain credibility when looking for a project manager? “How do you authenticate the person in front of you?” questioned the Engineering Council’s CEO Jon Prichard.
By delving into the history of regulations and standards Jon exposed the need for a code of conduct and professional development across project management to ensure competence and professionalism is maintained throughout the profession. “If I look at a CV and see they are member of the APM it gives me comfort,” added Michael Flynn.
For APM president, David Waboso, the project profession is “poised for moving to a greater place,” but "we need to strive to work across organisations and institutions so we can be assured of embarking on a project knowing it will come out at the other end”.
Isabel Debring, former Deputy Mayor for Transport in the Greater London Authority, also spoke about working cohesively across businesses and departments. Through exploring major projects currently being undertaken across Greater London the need for communication and engagement across every level of industry and organisation, can be shown.
For Ann Alder, director of RSVP, design the ability to learn from mistakes was critical. “As project managers we need to build in time for review and reflection and tolerate a degree of risk as part of the learning process. Incorporating this in our learning plan means that we also (expect to) learn from failure.”
With so many opinions on how we can become a world class profession, the conference provided thought-provoking insights from across industries and roles allowing delegates to walk away with a greater understanding of where we are as a profession, where are going and how we can achieve world class professionalism.
If you weren’t able to attend the conference all presentations will be made available on the APM’s website shortly.