APM Fellow, RPP, chair of APM People SIG
I have over 20 years’ experience of managing business change and transformation projects across multiple sectors. I'm also head of the APM Awards judges and a deputy chair of the APM Volunteers Steering Group (VSG).
I always wanted to work in financial services and when I left school I joined a local assurance company in Bournemouth. I then moved to Barclays International and spent twenty years there working across a range of departments.
I started off in the reconciliations and payments departments which I really enjoyed, particularly as I got to spend six months in New York. I then moved to the Chief Accountant’s Department where I was dealing with Bank of England returns and then I became involved with the work measurement project in head office. I was planning, managing and delivering the programme of work measurement which is when I really became a project manager.
Chartered means professional recognition of your capability as a project management practitioner.
When, and why, did you become a project manager?
I was planning, managing and delivering the programme of work measurement which is when I really became a project manager. We transformed the antiquated processes and rolled out an improvement programme. As a senior project manager in the foreign currency division I was delivering a mix of internal and external projects as well as supporting third party clients.
When the foreign currency division was sold off as a business I decided to leave Barclays and after a brief spell as a business development manager for a secure printing business, I went back to the financial sector and worked for JP Morgan. I was the UK Project Manager overseeing a $28 million project which I knew was going to fail because of the level of regulation that surrounded it and the inability of the vendor to deliver the USPs required. It was frustrating but it was a good development opportunity as a project manager.
I then spent ten years working for British Telecom in their change management team and implemented the creation of professional communities from traditional business functions and in my final role I migrated these communities into one network of 4,500 people.
Why did you become a member of APM and how are you involved?
Having joined as an Associate member in 1999 I attended a number of events and then became a committee member of the Wessex branch in 2001. I also guest lecture about project management at a number of universities and work with colleagues in the Special Interest Groups (SIGs) as I am passionate about the need for the project managers of tomorrow.
Since December 2014 I have focused on my various volunteer roles, including branch chair, for APM which involves me working with colleagues across the country. It is very varied, supporting branches and the People SIG, mentoring colleagues by sharing practical advice and guiding them to develop quick wins to constantly improve the service we offer to our branch members.
Are project management qualifications important?
When I worked at Barclays they had their own bespoke training programmes which had its own methodology. So while I was trained as a project manager, I didn’t have a qualification that employers recognised outside the financial services sector. A recruitment consultant advised I should look at Prince2 if I wanted to work in government and join APM. Having not known about the organisation, since joining APM I have taken the whole suite of qualifications and am a Registered Project Professional.
Why is project management important?
Project management is part of everybody’s everyday life. You might not realise it but for example, in the simplest terms, when you are organising a holiday, deciding where to go is designing the project. Implementing it is going on holiday and the post implementation is when you look at your photos and discuss it.
Getting people to appreciate that it is how we can apply these skills in a business environment is the challenge for APM to attract more people to pursue project management as a profession.
What advice would you give to someone considering a career in project management?
You can get involved in fabulous projects, whatever their size, and there are incredible opportunities across a wide range of sectors. You can travel the world and work in different industries as a project manager.
Accepting change is the difficult bit but it is all about selling the benefits, you need to acknowledge resistance to change and work with people to work around this to find the best solution.
What is the future of project management?
Regardless of the advances of technology and the automation of some processes, we will still need people to be project managers. Now we take it for granted but we’d never have imagined that we’d be accessing emails on mobile phones a few years ago.
You need to be proactive and believe that people matter.
What does APM's Chartered status mean to you?
Chartered means professional recognition of your capability as a practitioner.