CELEBRATING WOMEN IN PROJECT MANAGEMENT 2020 SERIES
Location: Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
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Susan Nicholson fell into project management 25 years ago after applying for a system UAT test role to escape answering the phone to irate customers. From this inauspicious career start, she discovered she had an innate talent for bridging the gap between strategic/operational business managers and technical systems developers, which developed further over the years into an unexpected ability to deliver successful projects. She loves taking an idea, a problem, an opportunity and turning it into something tangible. She learnt the tools of her trade by combining her pragmatic realism with her willingness to listen and learn from some seriously generous project and people managers. Susan’s focus over the years has naturally veered towards project managing system implementations and process improvements for a number of well- known UK and global conglomerates, usually in almost impossible deadlines. Currently putting those skills and experience to good use in the charity sector for an Employability project to improve outcomes for individuals and families in her local area.
What is your project management super power?
My project management superpowers are around keeping things simple. I am able to cut through the noise that often surrounds projects, ensuring my customer remains at the centre of every task and every decision to enable me to keep my focus on their goals and objectives.
How can gender diversity be improved in the project management profession?
It’s very simple really – regardless of gender, we should remember that ultimately people matter more than targets etc. We should support each other any and every way that we can, respecting and appreciating each other’s contributions, and understanding how different genders/personalities can complement and add value. Given that we are still fighting the good fight on inclusiveness of gender, highlighting success is important to ensure visibility. This series of Celebrating Women in Project Management is fantastic for letting everyone know we exist and do a damn good job as Project Managers!
As the profession evolves, what skills do you think will be key for future success?
I think… I hope.. the softer skills will continue to come to the forefront of project management. Listening skills and understanding someone else’s perspective and strategy are hugely important. Being adaptable and willing to try, and definitely keep learning – so many different ways to learn now – podcasts, mentors etc. It doesn’t have to be exams and qualifications – life and work experience are important too. Oh…and resilience…. personal resilience and flexibility
How do you recover from difficult situations?
It depends what the difficult situation is, but I find that being honest around any mistakes, having the flexibility and adaptability to accept if a change of direction is needed, being prepared to re-plan and being prepared to listen to other opinions all help resolve difficult situations quickly. I beat myself up for a while, especially if I feel I should have thought of something earlier. It’s far easier to be critical of myself than I ever would be of someone else. However, talking things through with trusted friends or colleagues helps get everything into perspective.
What are your tips and techniques for conflict resolution?
Always ask the other person about a situation from their perspective, so you start to understand what the source of the conflict is. This opens up a less confrontational dialogue and paves the way to a resolution discussion that both sides can hopefully agree to.
Which 3 words best describe why you enjoy being a project manager?
Collaboration, adding value, challenges.
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.
- If you’re a woman working in project management, I want to hear from you! Submit your profile today to make sure to be included in this years event which has already begun.
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