Susanne Madsen Celebrating Women in Project Management

Susanne Madsen Celebrating Women in Project Management

Susanne Madsen


Location: London, UK

Connect via my website / See Podcast Episode #159: Stress in project management


Susanne Madsen is an internationally recognised project leadership coach, trainer and consultant. She is the author of “The Power of Project Leadership” and “The Project Management Coaching Workbook”. She offers leadership development programmes and executive coaching to organisations globally in order that project managers can step up and become better leaders.

Prior to setting up her own business, Susanne worked in the corporate sector leading high-profile programmes of up to $30 million for organisations such as Standard Bank, Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase. She is a fully qualified Corporate and Executive coach, an NLP Practitioner, DISC accredited and a regular contributor to the Association for Project Management (APM).

What I enjoy most about being a project manager is:

I love the fact that project management requires me to use so many different skill sets, including managing detailed tasks, getting things done, leading and motivating people and grasping the bigger picture and the customer’s vision. I also love that projects have real meaning and purpose. We actually change the world with the projects we do. We build better buildings, we create better IT systems, we develop better devices and implement better services. Our projects matter because they add value to people like you and I.

The three most important skills I use to successfully deliver projects are:

Because of the complexity of project management we use a wide range of skills, which is what makes the profession so challenging and rewarding. For me the most important skills come from different corners of our personality
1. Emotional intelligence – The ability to empathise and understand others, which is crucial when motivating a team and building trust with stakeholders. After all it’s people who deliver projects, not processes.
2. Drive to deliver – The desire and ability to focus one’s energy on the project and moving it forward. As the leader of the team it’s important that we are proactive and that we want to deliver the best possible outcome to the client.
3. Attention to detail – The ability to plan a project and care about detailed tasks and requirements. As much as project management is about people and delivering a high level vision, we won’t get anywhere if we don’t master the detail.

I build and nurture my professional network by:

This is probably one of my weak points! When I’m busy delivering a project or when my travel schedule is hectic because I’m running training and leadership development programmes internationally, I have very little time to nurture my network. During my less busy periods (when I spend more time in London) I try to catch up with people over a coffee, and I make an effort to attend project management events. Luckily we also have social media and collaboration tools that help on the practical side. I’m quite active on LinkedIn where I post all my blogs and videos. I find that it’s a great place to meet likeminded people. I sometimes reach out and schedule a Skype call with someone within my network to build bridges and to get to know them better.

At the start of my career, the one thing I wish I had known is:

Well, there is A LOT I wish I’d known! In particular about emotional intelligence and psychology. At the start of my career I had a tendency to use a push approach to getting things done. I wasn’t particularly good at getting people to weigh in and take responsibility. This is something I’ve learnt with experience. I’ve become much better at being very supportive and also very challenging. I show myself more and am not afraid to have an emotionally challenging conversation. If I had worked with a coach early on in my career to develop my emotional intelligence it would have saved me over 10 years of learning the hard way!

Women who have inspired me so far in my career journey are:

I find that great leaders are few and far between. That goes for women as well as men. I’ve been lucky to work alongside a few women who I found really inspiring. Two of them were bosses in the companies I worked for. What I liked about them was their ability to empower others and also to be authentic and to hold people to account when needed.

The most valuable advice I have ever been given is:

Hmm. Nothing really springs to mind apart from something my mum once wrote to me: “Say what you mean and mean what you say”. I have often thought about the importance of that as it’s part of being authentic. On our leadership development programmes we help people create alignment between what they say, do, think and feel. When there is alignment we are authentic. So my mum was onto something there!

My advice for women on finding success as a project manager is:

My advice is to be yourself, to follow your passion and to be careful not to burn out. Project Management can be a really fun, meaningful and demanding career choice but it can also be demanding and draining. it’s important that you don’t give more energy than you have. Many people get so involved with their work that they end up with chronic stress. There is more to life than work so nurture your personal relationships and do things that give you meaning and energy in your spare time.


Hello amazing women of the project management world!

My observation after two decades of working in the project management industry is that our voices as women are simply not heard enough online in articles, podcasts, and across social media channels. Let’s change that!

  1. 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.
  2. Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn to be inspired by daily posts as we celebrate all of these wonderful women in project management! Feel motivated by their stories, achievements and perspectives.
  3. Tell us how you feel and support other women by including #CelebratingWomenInProjectManagement in your social media posts.
  4. Join our FREE exclusive Celebrating Women in Project Management Facebook group – a new space for women in project management to come together and discuss ideas, give advice, provide support, and network with women from all over the globe.



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