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Celebrating 50 years of Project Management in the South West Conference

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Following on from three successful conferences, the APM South Wales and West of England Branch held its fourth major Southwest Conference on 11 October 2022. The event coincided with the APM 50th birthday, so much was made of this milestone on the day. The event was designed by volunteers in the Branch Corporate Advisory Group (BCAG) with the added guidance and support of branch committee members. This event was hosted at the SS Great Britain in Bristol having had two previous years of virtual on-line events. The event fulfilled it’s goals, to showcase project management in the Southwest region, and bringing project professionals together to share knowledge and experience to become better-equipped to meet future challenges.

There was a great uptake from the regional community of project professionals with 86 delegates attending the event making the most of the superb line up. The event was sponsored by PA Consulting (Headline & Exhibitor), MI-GSO PCUBED (Exhibitor) and Arcadis (Drinks Reception)

The programme began with a welcome address from the SWWE BCAG chair, Julian Wotton (Arcadis) and a keynote opening address from the APM CEO Professor Adam Boddison who is keen to see more project professionals in board rooms and that we remain focused on societal benefits from projects.


We then had the privilege of hearing from Simon Parsons (Director at Hinckley Point C) sharing the legacy that this mega project will deliver to the regional and wider UK economy.

Richard Bonner (Chair of West of England LEP and Board Member of Western Gateway) then gave a flavour of the benefits of the planned growth and regeneration projects in the South West region. The key message is that we all need to play a part in driving investment into the region to share in the ultimate success.

After a quick break, the conference welcomed the current Head of profession from GCHQ whose personal perspective provided a useful reflection for us all to consider on how to grow project professionalism within an organisation. Next up from PA consulting, James Munson and Ashleigh Dueker discussed the evolution of the agile organisation. An interesting perspective stressing the importance of team make up.

We then had a good EDI discussion panel led by Kerry Davies from MI-GSO | PCUBED. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion is a hot topic which certainly generated an interesting debate on how we might best solve this ongoing challenge. It was concluded that we have a way to go but creating awareness and actively being good role models is a good start.

There was good opportunity to network over lunch and also for a very brief visit to the SS Great Britain.

First up after lunch Alex Constantine from MI-GSO | PCUBED – A very insightful perspective of the project manager role v AI. Humans and their emotional intelligence will forever play a leading role in our projects but we should not neglect the power of using data and all that AI has to offer. We were then able to consider re-wiring project management for the next 50 years! Karen Thompson from Southampton University got us all really thinking – what we do now really impacts our future. We need to change our thinking and constantly adapt or fail.

A joint presentation next from Kathryn Jones ChPP (Babcock) and Diane Stanley (University of Plymouth) considering New Initiatives in Project Management Education. It was inspiring to hear how organisations can work with Universities to get access to talent and have a 2 way process of learning.

To close the show, Catherine Poyner (MOD Head of Project Delivery Function) was able to capture the key take-away messages from the day and challenge everyone to think differently.

After closing comments by Julian Wotton (SWWE BCAG chair) it was on to the drinks reception where many new connections were made and lots of buzzing discussions had. The SWWE BCAG has been encouraged to continue with a 5th conference in 2023. Watch this space and please contact Peter Wakeling for your suggestions on topics that will grab your interest.

Huge thanks to the core organising team for 2023 – Peter Wakeling, Martin Gosden, Ellie Breakwell, Alice Evans, Luke Harris, David Westbury and Jessica McChattie and all other contributors.




Karen Thompson: Celebrating 50 years of Project Management in the South West from Association for Project Management



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