CELEBRATING WOMEN IN PROJECT MANAGEMENT 2020 SERIES
Location: South Africa
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I have been a project management consultant for nearly thirty years and some of my most rewarding experiences have been as a lecturer (University of Cape Town) and coach with young people looking to develop further in project management. I’m always looking for possible internships positions for my students so any ideas are very welcome.
I am a joint leader of the Success Stories Shared PMSA initiative to encourage learning across the project management community, a judge on the PMO Global Awards and the Chairperson of the judging committee for the PMO South Africa Awards.
I have a passion for stakeholder Engagement and authored Stakeholder-led Management: Changing the Way We Manage Projects in 2016. This year am working on an update to this which will include Stakeholder Engagement in the Agile world.
My networks have enriched my professional and personal development so much. Do connect if you think we have something to share!
What is your project management super power?
Undoubtedly my network! I am a great believer in the idea that we store our knowledge in our friends. Interesting that when I was doing research on what makes project managers successful we found that great project managers have great networks. It about building relationships and about using these relationships appropriately.
How can gender diversity be improved in the project management profession?
Diversity is one of our routes to innovation and creativity – encouraging new ways to think about things. The importance of diversity in achieving our goals must be communicated to key stakeholders. I still see a lot of project recruitment depending upon gut-feel. The end results is that managers tend to recruit in their own image. More structured approaches which encourage broader thinking about competencies and the importance of creating diverse teams need to be much higher up the agenda for recruiters.
As the profession evolves, what skills do you think will be key for future success?
Emotional intelligence features highly for me. We need to help young people build self-esteem and confidence so that they can be field-independent as early as possible. Managers need to focus on providing support to hatch new project managers in a safe way for both the organisation and the individual. That doesn’t mean taking no risks – it means taking calculated risks.
How do you recover from difficult situations?
Somebody once said to me “In the grand scheme of things – does it really matter!” I don’t mean you shouldn’t care, but I think the first step is to get the problem into perspective. Talking to others helps with this. I have worried in the past about expressing emotions – that said I did cry in front of the sponsor on one, particularly tough project. Emotions provide a way for others to judge our depth of feeling – I think as I’ve got older I’ve learned to channel these – not just to avoid them.
What are your tips and techniques for conflict resolution?
Avoid email management and absolutely avoid texting! The judgement is whether to confront, back-down or look for arbitration from others. The first step is to realise that there are always several approaches to dealing with the conflict and then to make your best stab at the chosen approach. Integrity counts for a lot – make sure that you are clear about your agenda before you attempt to convey anything to others.
Which 3 words best describe why you enjoy being a project manager?
Troubleshooting – it rarely goes to plan and when it doesn’t that’s when I feel that my job can make a real difference
Productivity – It is my problem to ensure that my team can perform to their very best. I relish my role as a servant leader
Client acceptance – because as a project manager I am always responsible
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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