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What is a 'progressive project professional'?

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At the APM National Conference for Women in Project Management last week, a panel of four project professionals attempted to answer ‘what does a progressive project professional look like?’ and took questions from a packed auditorium, providing their insight and thoughts on what will give you the edge in the future. 

Chaired by Chris Bevan, Chairman of Provek Limited, the panel were: Kelly Rosebender (Lloyds Banking Group), Andy Dunn (Jacobs), Rob Leslie-Carter (Arup) and Sorrel Gilbert who runs her own consultancy.

In summary, here are their top 10 tips and observations on what qualities a progressive project professional might possess :

  1. Be a real model rather than a role model - Inspire people about you by showing them the benefits of what you're working on
  2. Project managers need to be leaders of change
  3. Engage with everybody – you need to listen rather than tell
  4. Your emotional and creative skills make the difference - soft skills will become increasingly important, we need to be adaptable
  5. Traditionally project managers have been seen as editors of creativity but project managers need to experiment in order to harness a diverse workforce
  6. Talking about the benefits of projects engages people more – otherwise they will only remember the failures
  7. Create the right environment, you can have all the tools but you need to bring everyone and everything together
  8. If you want your skill set to be transferable work on continuous improvement, challenge yourself and don't be afraid to take on new opportunities as they come
  9. Stay cutting edge by leading and inspiring great people - people are everything
  10. It sounds obvious, but in order to be a progressive project manager, you need to be progressive!


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  1. Sophie Stokes
    Sophie Stokes 04 October 2017, 02:03 PM

    Benefits management and leadership seemed to be key themes here. I'm unsure of point 10 though. How did the panel define 'progressive'?

  2. Kirsten Bird
    Kirsten Bird 11 October 2017, 01:17 PM

    Hi Sophie, The Chair summarised the discussions to say that a progressive project professional needs to be a real model rather than a role model and it is about creating the right environment. You can have all the tools at your disposal but it is up to you to make it work. You need to engage everybody in the project and the profession needs project managers to be leaders of change and be progressive. Being progressive can be defined as: avouring change or innovation. synonyms: modern, liberal, advanced, forward-looking, forward-thinking, go-ahead, enlightened, enterprising, innovative, up-and-coming, new, dynamic, avant-garde, modernistic; an advocate of social reform. "People tend to present themselves either as progressives or traditionalists"... Hope that helps?! Kirsten