CELEBRATING WOMEN IN PROJECT MANAGEMENT 2020 SERIES
Location: Oxford, United Kingdom
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Karlene is an award-winning risk and value management professional who focuses on starting megaprojects for success at ARAVUN. She has effectively led strategic risk and value management studies on projects and programmes such as Crossrail 2, Thameslink and Wessex Improvement Programme. Karlene speaks internationally and has written for Forbes, Entrepreneur and profession-specific publications. She is currently reading for an Executive Masters in Major Programme Management at the University of Oxford.
Tune in to Karlene’s Podcast: Value Management on Mega Projects.
What is your project management super power?
I have the ability to ask insightful questions. These often get to the root of the purpose of a megaproject, which tends to be assumed knowledge but is rarely commonly understood. Timely application of ‘why…?’, ‘what if…?’ and ‘how…?’ yields fascinating results.
How can gender diversity be improved in the project management profession?
This is a complex and important issue that needs to be tackled at many levels. Visibility of the many accomplished women in the profession is necessary to attract more women to the profession whether they are just starting their career or joining as a second or third profession. Thank you for your work on this, Elise!
Implicit bias is evident in many of the structural barriers that women face. Removing names from CVs has proven effective for reducing racial prejudice and would likely also reduce gender bias in the application process. Mentoring and securing champions are extremely helpful in enabling women to fulfil their potential in the most senior roles.
As the profession evolves, what skills do you think will be key for future success?
The ability to embrace skills that are fundamentally human, such as creativity is crucial. In a world that’s increasingly volatile, continually learning is more important than ever before. Current technological skills that are useful include machine learning and artificial intelligence.
How do you recover from difficult situations?
I take responsibility for my part in the difficult situation and explore ideas for how I can recover. In order to get a sense of perspective, I ponder if this is something I’ll consider important in one, five, 10 years, or even on my deathbed. It is rarely the case that I deal with something of that magnitude, so this line of questioning helps to put it in perspective as a relatively insignificant hurdle.
If it is something that crucial, I think about how I would want to tell the next generation that I dealt with it. Some of the greatest origin stories of people I look up to are rooted in overcoming significant challenges. I find this approach useful because it takes the focus away from focusing on me and my woes to how I could use this problem to inspire others.
What are your tips and techniques for conflict resolution?
It is important to try to empathise with others and try to see things from their point of view, even if you vehemently disagree. People rarely do things that don’t make sense from their emotional perspective, so trying to understand them can be a useful tool to defray the situation and identify mutually beneficial solutions.
If someone has hurt your feelings, it’s also best to wait until you’ve calmed down emotionally to respond! It’s a lot easier to misunderstand things in the heat of the moment.
Which 3 words best describe why you enjoy being a project manager?
I am not actually a project manager! I use risk and value management to start megaprojects for success, but three words that describe why I enjoy this work are scale, impact and challenge.
Hello amazing women of the project management world! My Celebrating Women in Project Management Series highlights your stories to inspire others, raise the profile of women in the project management profession, and to further strengthen our global network.
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