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Strategies for Success - APM Programme Management Conference 2024 write up

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The APM Programme Management Specific Interest Group (SIG) was proud to host another fantastic event on Thursday 14 March 2024. Titled “Strategies for Success” this event looked to take learning from the events and changes of the last few years, such as COVID, the global social and political unrest, significant changes in technology and our climate and apply them in our programmes of the present and future.

This year’s event took place at the Crowne Plaza, Kings Cross in London and along with 80 delegates the speakers touched on topics including, delivery partners, disruptive technology, leadership, ethics, project frameworks and sustainability.

Stuart Earl – Gleeds
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With a real buzz about the room, kicking off the day was Stuart Earl from Gleeds providing a case study of the La Autoridad para Reconstruccion con Cambios (ARCC) Programme and 2023 APM Programme of the year winner.

Stuart shared the great work that is currently being delivered as part of this programme in Peru including building 47 Schools, 19 Hospitals and other integral infrastructure such as roads and bridges all of which build to withstand the worst flooding during the wet season. Stuart outlined the importance of systematic governance approach that was enabled by establishing a PMO and issuing clear procurement guidelines. This meant that aspects of the programme could be delivered four years quicker.

Caroline Lasson & Gordon Alexander – Mace Group
Mace Group ran a session focussing on the rising importance of the Delivery Partner Model for successful major programme delivery. Caroline Lassen, introduced the delivery partner concept, exploring client options as well as the benefits of integration of the supply chain into the partnership.

Gordon Alexander, was invited to share his practical experiences of the delivery partner model from its early conception whilst working with the London 2012 Olympic Delivery Authority, through to an exciting current opportunity where Mace are involved as delivery partner on the Hudson Tunnel in New York, a $16billion major programme.

Harry Keeling – Rolls Royce
Harry Keeling’s session introduced Rolls Royce Small Modular Reactor (SMR) programme as a solution to tackling the expected growth in the UKs energy need for at least 160GW of new electrical capacity required – targeting the government commitment to produce clean energy by 2050.

Much more than energy however, Harry engaged the audience with the multiple other applications and dual usages a fleet of SMRs could provide almost anywhere in the world, capitalising on the Unique Selling Points (USPs) of the design and build process. These are namely small and modularised and configured to enable a full-factory build and site factory assembly process, significantly reducing cost and time, by controlling impacts such as weather that affect traditional site builds.

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Sarah's presentation reminded the audience reminded us that AI is already here and it doesn’t really matter how you feel about it (some in the audience were nervously laughing at this point!) point!), what is important is to recognise it and attempt to understand it better to make best use of it in your role. Using examples from her experience, Sarah pressed on the fact that AI can be a silent disruptor – and to ensure continual learning throughout, revising approaches and target outcomes, but to control this she recommended the following considerations:

  • Set and manage expectations (No work arounds)
  • Set the acceptance criteria
  • Building on clean data (not on AI)
  • Research project techniques (super Agile; 3-day sprints, use a road map rather than Gantt Chart)
  • Pivot around sunk costs (don’t dwell on spend money when changing direction)

Penny Pullan – Making Projects Work
Penny facilitated an interactive workshop session on ethics and offered a view on what might be considered the “right thing” from a few different lenses. Penny took learning from Aristotles view of virtue and Immanuel Kans imperative universal law for the audience to consider what does it mean to be ethical.

With the audience split into small teams this session encouraged each table to discuss dilemmas and ethics they may have experienced in their own lives and what could we do to mitigate some of these issues. Following group discussions some suggestions captured. This photo shows these suggestions.

Sarafine Baz - MIGSO-PCUBED
Sarafine gave a comprehensive view of leadership challenges in the complex world of Industry 4.0. Reference to previous studies shows a staggering 67% failure rate amongst individuals in leadership roles, which questions the adequacy of current leadership selection and development practices. This highlights a need for innovation in how current and future leaders are selected and grown.

Research indicates there are two key leadership characteristics- transactional (agentic) and transformational (communal), and whilst effective leadership is often a combination of the two, our perception of a strong leader is often biased towards transactional behaviour (which compromises our leadership selection and leads to gender bias). A questionnaire filled in by the audience highlighted the bias towards agentic behaviours in leadership even amongst those that stated their egalitarian values. This raised awareness of the stereotypes we have in selecting leaders which is in turn resulting in the high failure rates we see.

Raminder Jaswal & Alan Young – Babcock International Group
Raminder and Alan shared how the project management function at Babcock is currently undergoing transformation with the introduction of Babcock’s Global Project Management Framework. Raminder and Alan outlined the goal was to establish a standard framework that could be applied to the company’s vast range of projects and programmes, to enable a consistent approach and improve delivery. They also highlighted some of the key aspects of the framework including, a single governance lifecycle, comprehensive processes, document templates, access to eLearning and integrated project controls.

Kathrine Fox – WRAP
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As an expert in sustainability, Kathrine kicked off her session by asking the audience to define sustainability, offering the following from UN Brundtland Commission.
“Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generation to meet their own needs”.

Kathrine shared some of the significant campaigns that WRAP had led including clear on plastic as featured in BBCs Blue Planet 2 documentary, Recycle Now and Love Food Hate Waste. Focusing on their Plastics Programme, Kathrine shared how the organisation is developing its global plastics network, working with in country partners and policy makers as a catalyst for transformation.


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