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Q&A with APM's newest Honorary Fellow Hassan Chaudhury

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Association for Project Management (APM) is proud to announce that Hassan Chaudhury is the latest individual to receive an Honorary Fellowship. The APM Honorary Fellowship is awarded to individuals in recognition of their exceptional, demonstrable, and significant contributions to the project profession.

Hassan’s background is in frontline social work, NHS informatics, and public health. He later co-founded Health iQ - an award-winning agency focusing on real world evidence - and held Chief Information Officer and Chief Commercial Officer positions before its acquisition and his exit in 2019. He later worked for UK Government where he developed the national offers for digital health before joining HDRUK, UCL, and King’s College London. 

What was your reaction to being named as an Honorary Fellow of APM?

Honestly, I was a little bit surprised. I don't think of myself as a project manager, but I do see project management as a foundational skill that enables me to do many things and wear many hats in parallel. I’m truly delighted that an organisation with a reputation as fantastic as APM has honoured me in this way. I'm glad to be part of this wonderful family and wonderful movement.

Can you tell us about some of your career highlights?

The first thing that comes to mind is being a co-founder at Health iQ. I learnt so much working together with my other co-founders. We bootstrapped and got to exit, winning deals in over a dozen jurisdictions around the world. We ended up selling health data research studies using UK real world data to more than half of the top 100 global life science firms. We got to a digital health exit in 2019, which felt like quite a rare thing at that time. I now use that experience to coach founders on similar journeys.

Another career highlight is the four years I spent at Healthcare UK, a joint initiative of the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), NHS England, and the Department for International Trade (DIT), now the Department for Business and Trade (DBT), immediately after my time at Health iQ. I was commissioned to develop the national offers for digital health inward investment and for international trade, and I worked with commercial officers across the UK Embassy network of 96 countries. I did that part-time for four years. During that period, I initiated something called the Digital Health Export Playbook. In between editions 1 and 2 (between February 2021 and January 2022), we recorded £60m in trade deals for UK exporters in digital health.

A more recent highlight is that I've just been named as an Expert-in-Residence (EIR) for the London Institute for Healthcare Engineering (LIHE) at Kings College London. Being an EIR there is a big deal for me because it’s such a strong team and such an exciting time to get involved. LIHE is genuinely a national asset and the only centre where we can go from an idea in MedTech to clinical and commercial translation all under the same roof.

Can you tell us about your approach to managing projects?

Looking back, my approach has always been to think of myself as the person who embodies the culture; I want to be the culture setter. I learnt this watching and working with other leaders, good and bad. I almost think of myself as an avatar of the many managers that I've seen. The good leaders were the ones who, even if they had a bad day, didn't let it show. They would also never ask people to do something that they wouldn’t do themselves. The bad managers would be inconsistent. One day they would be happy and approachable while the next they would be moody and standoffish. There needs to be that psychological safety for the people working with you. A leader needs to provide consistency and clarity so that they’re able to maintain urgency and momentum with a project.

What opportunities do you see in the future for the project profession?

There's huge potential for the profession with the deep tech coming to market. There’s clearly a lot of hype, for example, around artificial intelligence (AI), but we must remember that technology, regardless of what it is, is still only a piece of the puzzle alongside the process and the people. If we ever put technology ahead of these things, it’ll fail. Good project management enable us to put things in the right place, at the right time and emphasise the right things. It enables us to realise the intended benefits.

I argue there is a need for a human-centred transformation around digital health, and that is exactly where I see the project profession being critical. There'll be people out there looking at AI and getting excited, saying ‘let's just drop it in’ and not even considering modelling it, regardless of the impact. Whereas an experienced project professional should be saying, ‘Hold on, what's the scope? What are we going to do here? What are the gates, who's going to approve it? What’s the outcome we’re seeking’ etc. While technology starts to drive us in certain directions, we need the conservativism to be firm and say let's get the people and the process right.

What’s next for you?

I’m fortunate to have an unusually fractional career, I’m currently part of the team at DATA-CAN - the cancer hub of Health Data Research UK (HDRUK), where HDRUK is the national institute for health data science. I’m also a Visiting Lecturer at UCL Global Business School for Health (GBSH) which is the world’s only business school dedicated to health. I think that portfolio career will continue to some degree.

However, I really want to do more work with the ecosystem to align the ‘innovation journey’, by which I mean the journey that an innovative solution takes touching everyone from the accelerators to the investors to the health systems who ultimately adopts it. My thesis is that the innovation journey is misaligned and because of this, we end up without the solutions that we need in healthcare. We kill too many startups by making it unnecessarily difficult for them.


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