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Scaling New Heights: Project Management on the world’s 3rd highest peak

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Kangchenjunga (8586m / 28,169ft) in remote North-eastern Nepal is the world’s third highest mountain. It is rarely climbed as it has no easy routes, all its faces are objectively dangerous and its ridges long and hard. This event was held on 13 March 2024.

In 2000 Stevan Jackson led only the second British expedition to climb the South-West face (Yalung face) since the very first ascent in 1955. This has not been repeated since. He was subsequently involved in the British Everest West Ridge Expedition, 2006.

This presentation offered several benefits to project managers at all levels:

1. Learning from Extreme Environments: Project managers can gain insights into leading & managing projects in extreme and unpredictable environments. Lessons learned from high-altitude mountaineering are often applicable to the business world, especially in terms of risk management, contingency planning, and decision-making under pressure.

2. Risk Management Skills: The challenges faced during such expeditions are enormous and involve significant risk. Understanding how these risks were assessed, managed, and mitigated can provide valuable lessons in risk management for any project.

3. Team Dynamics and Leadership: High-altitude expeditions require strong leadership and effective team dynamics. Project managers can learn about building, leading, and motivating teams, especially in challenging and high-stakes situations.

4. Adaptability and Problem-Solving: Such expeditions often encounter unforeseen challenges, requiring quick thinking and adaptability. Learning how the expedition leader navigated these challenges can provide project managers with strategies for problem-solving and adapting to changing circumstances in their projects.

5. Project Planning and Execution: Mountaineering expeditions involve meticulous planning and precise execution, like complex projects in the business world. Project managers can learn about planning strategies, resource allocation, and execution tactics.

6. Resilience and Perseverance: Lessons in resilience and the importance of perseverance in the face of adversity can be incredibly inspiring and applicable to the project management world, especially for managing long and challenging projects.

7. Prince 2 Methodology Insights: With the speaker being Prince 2 qualified, attendees can gain specific insights into this widely recognized PM methodology, which can be particularly beneficial for beginners or those looking to formalise their project management skills.

8. Networking and Inspiration: Attending such a presentation provides an opportunity to network with other professionals and be inspired by a leader who has achieved remarkable feats in both mountaineering and project management.

Stevan has very kindly allowed his presented material to be made available for viewing. The slides on Slideshare are now available in our APM resources area and also embedded below for reference.

Stevan Jackson MA, FHEA, FIoL, FCMI, MCGI, Chartered FCIPD, Vistage CEO Group Chair and Executive Coach, SKJ Associates Ltd / Vistage UK

Stevan has had a varied career that spans military, mountaineering, and business leadership. He is a visiting university lecturer, an accomplished speaker and a published author on leadership and selecting, preparing, and leading teams to tackle challenging objectives.
One of the many highlights of Jackson's naval career was being selected to deliver into service the UK’s £7m,100-bed hospital in Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship ARGUS and prepare it for tasking in the 2nd Gulf War.

Jackson was the author of the MOD’s 2006 ‘Defence Health Strategy’, which aimed to improve the health and well-being of military personnel and their families.

In addition to his military and business careers, Stevan Jackson has been a mountaineer for over 40 years, climbing extensively in the UK and leading expeditions all over the world. He is Prince 2 qualified and has much PM experience.

In 2013 he was recruited as the first CEO of Mary Stevens Hospice in Stourbridge where he led a team of 685 staff and volunteers providing end-of-life and palliative care for 3,000 people per year. The hospice won the Queen's Award for Voluntary Services (MBE for voluntary organisations) in 2019 and he led the hospice to an 'Outstanding' CQC assessment in 2020.
In his current role as a Vistage Chair, he works with business leaders to improve their leadership skills, make better decisions, and get better results; or ‘help them to make molehills out of their mountains’.

This event was ideal for professionals with any level of experience. For beginners, intermediate, and advanced project managers, these learnings can enhance their skills, provide fresh perspectives, and inspire new approaches to managing their projects effectively.


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  1. Mohamed Wasim Ismail
    Mohamed Wasim Ismail 26 March 2024, 10:15 PM

    The slide deck was really interesting, and could relate to it recently climbing mount Kilimanjaro.