Siemens leads the way for development of project professionals

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Posted by APM on 12th Jan 2010

Nick KyprianouNick Kyprianou joined Siemens as an apprentice engineer but soon realised that his skills were better suited to the project management side of the business. “My boss saw I had potential as a project manager, so when I was given the opportunity to manage one I was naturally delighted but also faced quite a steep learning curve!”

Around the same time, Siemens launched its PM@Siemens initiative which was designed to ensure that a common and consistent approach to project management was delivered throughout the organisation, irrespective of location or business sector. It also made sense on an individual level and, recognising that he needed to advance his career, Nick enrolled on the company’s global career model known as PM Future World. The in-house tool provides a benchmark against which individual capability is measured and then categorised (A to F) depending on experience and the characteristics of the project – with category ‘A’ projects classified as the most complex.

“The types of project I manage are mainly category B with a few C’s,” explains Nick. “So when I ran the PM Future World assessment back in January 2007, I knew exactly what I needed to achieve if I wanted to become a certified senior project manager, which was my goal at the time.”

Comprising 24 areas of competence, sub-divided into 94 separate questions, individuals undertaking the assessment are asked to score themselves out of 100. Says Nick: “If you thought you were pretty good at something you would score yourself 80; if you thought no-one was better, you would score yourself 100. The trick is to recognise the benefits and be brutally honest with yourself in the process.”

The results were revealing. Nick’s boss rated him as senior project management material; but in his own assessment, Nick scored himself considerably lower. “I didn’t have a huge amount of experience in managing the bidding phase. I’d done some small stuff but nothing really big,” he admits. “I also felt I was pretty weak in procurement and logistics.”

Siemens engineers working on the Swedish Lillgrand wind farm project.Siemens launched its PM@Siemens UK Academy in December 2006 to address development needs in line with its career model. Not so much an academy in the traditional sense of an actual physical building, the concept was more a way of bringing together existing training and development methods to deliver a consistent approach across the organisation.

Originally, when the PM@Siemens programme was conceived it consisted of seven modules and 29 project-related requirements. Over time this increased to 12 modules and 55 requirements – with subjects such as project procuring and contract management added. In each case the emphasis was early intervention to mitigate and control risk. “After completing the learning and development programme, I felt more confident to score myself higher in these areas,” adds Nick.

Nick is now using his experience to benefit others and frequently sits on the review board. “I would like to try and influence a culture of change within project management. Most project management training is task orientated and focuses on the margins. But I believe it’s also about building long-term relations with customers – in other words, giving a little to gain a lot.”

This article was originally published in Project magazine in May 2009

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