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Future-proofing portfolios in uncertain times: APM conference to explore how and why

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Professionalisation of skills, tackling climate change and artificial intelligence are among the main factors to consider when it comes to futureproofing, a survey of portfolio, project and programme professionals has found.

The survey, carried out by Association for Project Management (APM) in partnership with research company Censuswide, asked 1,000 professionals working on projects and portfolios in the UK what they felt would be the biggest opportunities and challenges in the next five years.

Respondents were asked to choose up to three opportunities they feel are most significant. These were:

  • Professionalisation of skills – selected by 38% of respondents
  • Tackling climate change/working towards net zero – 36%
  • Pivoting to new energy sources – 35%

When asked what the biggest challenges are likely to be in the next five years, these were found to be:

  • Tackling climate change/supporting clean growth – selected by 19% of respondents
  • The cost of energy and fuel – 19%
  • Artificial intelligence, automation and big data – 18%

In an increasing volatile, uncertain and complex world, it’s essential that portfolio managers not only adapt to change when it occurs, but also make preparations in advance to future-proof their portfolios.

APM’s Portfolio Management Specific Interest Group (SIG) conference – Future-proofing: Successful portfolio leadership and management in uncertain times - on Tuesday 16 May 2023 focussed on this topic.

The conference, which took place at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel in Kensington, London, explored how different organisations are future-proofing their portfolios, and the strategies they’re using to achieve this. It also looked at how leadership styles are evolving to meet current and future challenges.


'How can we future-proof portfolios?'

Steve Leary, Co Chair of the APM Portfolio Management SIG committee, said: “Future-proofing your portfolio is a challenge at the best of times, with changing priorities and organisation challenges. It’s made even harder when only half of trading businesses are able to get the materials, goods and services they need from within the UK without supply issues, as the Office for National Statistics reported in March 2023. Businesses are also operating against a backdrop of global political and economic instability, a war in Europe and tensions with China.

“Many people are asking ‘how can we future-proof our portfolios? This conference is a fantastic opportunity to hear the experiences of executives and senior specialists in this field, as well as networking with fellow professionals.”

Speakers at the conference were:

  • Professor Adam Boddison OBE, Chief Executive of APM.
  • Stephen White, Chief Operating Officer at Santander (keynote speaker)
  • Tony Caink, Head of Operating Model and Ways of Working at Nationwide Building Society (keynote speaker)
  • Oliver Fisher, Chief Portfolio Officer at HMRC
  • Steve Moore, Director of Operations (Major Projects & Programmes Delivery) at the Environment Agency
  • Jo Stanford, Chief Executive at the Healthcare Project and Change Association, and former Head of Corporate Portfolio Office and Head of Profession for Health Education England

Steve commented: “All our speakers are very senior in their organisations and, with a mix of public and private sector presentations, will share their approaches, challenges and successes with conference attendees. It will be a fascinating and educational conference with plenty of time to ask questions of the speakers.”

The conference write up is now published, providing a summary of the sessions throughout the day and recommended further reading.

  • If you have a professional interest in leading and managing portfolios, APM’s Portfolio Management SIG promotes awareness of latest practices, researches new ideas, develops new approaches, and provides ways to share experiences and debate challenges. Register to follow this SIG.


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