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Howard Seymour

SOE President & Project and Programme Engineering Manager, BAE Systems PLC, APM Fellow

From my Senior Support Equipment Engineering role back in 2003 at BAE Systems, I became aware that I had both a flair and passion for managing the product design projects and deliverables from an end-to-end perspective and was very motivated by the project management aspects, tools and techniques. Once I finished my sponsored degree in Computer Aided Engineering I had the opportunity to transition into a project management role on a major aircraft development that was a customer facing support programme.

My thirst for project management continued with being successful in company sponsorship for a Masters in Project Management in Practice at Lancaster University. Following graduation in 2008, I then embarked onto the APM qualifications and accreditations, as this was the logical next step.

 

Chartered ultimately sets the standards apart from you and other project management professionals who are not accredited, and therefore gives you a competitive edge.

Who was your first employer?

The Royal Air Force (1987 to 2000) where I had a successful career as an Aircraft Engineer that included all lines of maintenance and support, and then took an opportunity to develop my Engineering career further at BAE Systems PLC (2000 to present) where I successfully transitioned into Project and Programme Management, managing complex engineering related projects and more recently complex business level transformation programmes.

What are your career highlights?

  • A successful military career in Aerospace Engineering
  • Engineering & Project Management accreditation CEng (Chartered Engineer) / CEnv (Chartered Environmentalist) & RPP and Fellowships with the APM, Society of Operations Engineers and Institute of Directors
  • Successful transition into the project management discipline and a solid career progression to-date
  • Involved with implementation of Programme level Project controls on multi billion pound major aircraft development programmes
  • Project Manager of significant international aircraft capability upgrades that included both the aircraft and the ground based support systems and facilities
  • Management and leadership of complex Projects and Programmes in transformation at business unit level, that involve people, process and systems
  • Long involvement with both Leadership of, and direction setting of a significant Professional Engineering Body (Society of Operations Engineers) – Recently appointed President from previously being the Honorary Secretary for the last 5 years (Member of the Trustee Board) and now heavily involved in the raising of standards throughout the three sectors of SOE - road transport, plant and engineer surveyors

When did you become a member of APM and what are the main benefits for you?

I became a full member in 2009 after completing my Project Management Practitioner Qualification and Certificated Project Manager (A previous APM qualification standard), this gave me a very rounded appreciation of project management and the full extent of the role as senior project manager and has been key into broadening and furthering my development into programme leadership roles. The RPP consolidated this very well.

How important, do you believe, are professional project management qualifications?

Very important, the qualifications benchmark the standard you are at by demonstrating the project management competencies that you are able to practically prove.

What keeps you interested in project management?

The breadth, depth and complexity that projects offer, no one day is ever the same, plus there is always learning, development and gaining new practice to adopt within your business. APM supports this interest and capability very well.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in project management?

  • Always take on an opportunity that stretches you either broadening or taking you to the next level, and do not fear the change in yourself. Ensure you gain the professional recognition and membership (i.e APM), and get an appropriate mentor for each stage of your career. Most importantly listen to, and respect the experiences they present, its priceless!
  • Build a solid and real network, both within your business and out of it, you cannot beat the value of solid counsel.
  • Don’t underestimate the personal development opportunity that voluntary work brings. I have been fortunate to have worked with Society of Operations Engineers for the last 10 years, which has brought a lot of learning and development that I have been able to couple with my Project Management Career and Leadership practice.
  • Project management encompasses many skills and aspects, therefore do not limit yourself to a particular stream of just the day job. It is also very rewarding when you have the opportunity to give back the benefit of your experiences and contribute to the bigger picture. In working with SOE, I have seen how another dynamic organisation operates, which has given me an extra motivation and drive. It has also enabled me to be involved in some important projects, and be able to witness different methodologies in various sectors.

Who has been the most influential in your career?

I have had several key line managers and mentors in my career to-date who have both been role models for ensuring that I have fully developed to be a people person and a pragmatist within my project management approach, leadership and delivery.

What does APM's Chartered status mean to you?

  • It gives me a great sense of pride that the APM now has the Royal Charter, this cements the APM as being a world class professional body for project management, and it ensures we now have a fully recognised platform to promote the awareness of our skills and standards. It further demonstrates with having the qualification, accreditation and membership that you can personally manage and deliver projects effectively. I look forward very much to seeing the Chartered Project Professional standard later this year and understand what that means in terms of RPP’s moving towards the Chartered Project Professional (ChPP) in Spring next year.
  • It ultimately it sets the standards apart from you and other project management professionals who are not accredited, and therefore gives you a competitive edge.
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