Susanne Madsen Celebrating Women in Project Management

Susanne Madsen

Susanne Madsen


Location: London, UK

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Susanne Madsen is an internationally recognised project leadership coach, trainer and consultant. She is the author of The Project Management Coaching Workbook and The Power of Project Leadership. Her last book is now also available in Chinese!

Prior to setting up her own business, she worked for almost 20 years 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, accredited by DISC and a member of the Association for Project Management (APM).

Susanne now works with organisations globally and across industries to help their managers become better leaders and gain control of their projects. She does this through training, coaching and consulting.
Susanne’s belief is that project management success is as much about leading people as it is about managing tasks, events and processes. She helps people look inwards and become a better leader; someone who is excellent at challenging the status quo, who engages and inspires the team and who understands how to build strong relationships of trust. She always encourages people to focus on that which is most important and to spend their time on the 20% of activities that contributes to 80% of their successes.

Susanne is a firm believer and practitioner of the GTD (Get Things Done) approach, and she enjoys helping people formulate and achieve their goals. Her book The Project Management Coaching Workbook has been described as “by far the most well written book I have read not only on the subject of Project Management but also from a Get Things Done perspective.” ​
Her latest book The Power of Project Leadership has been translated into Chinese and can be ordered from all major bookstores!

Susanne is the Founder and Director of Susanne Madsen International Ltd which is a UK company governed by English law. Company Number 8941920, Registered Office; 75 Kenton Street, London, WC1N 1NN.​

Why do you enjoy working in the field of project management?

Projects always have a purpose and I find it incredibly rewarding to witness the benefits of the changes that projects bring about. I love getting involved in everything from the business case and understanding stakeholder needs to detailed planning and tracking. But working with a team to achieve a specific aim is probably what I enjoy the most. Projects are first and foremost about people and represent one of the best opportunities there are to practice the art of leading. Because team members don’t report to the project manager they can’t reply on their authority to get work done. They have to use their influencing and leadership skills to be successful.

What are your greatest achievements as a Project Manager?

My greatest achievement is probably a project I ran some years ago for a bank in London. It lasted for over two years and involved up to 50 people simultaneously. It was the bank’s most high profile project at the time because the survival of that particular business stream dependent on it. Leading such a high profile project was a double-edged sword. On the one hand the pressure to succeed was immense and took me a long time to recover afterwards. On the other hand we had all of the senior director’s attention and would get the money and people we needed to proceed. It was extremely empowering and rewarding – not least when the project was finally delivered. When the financial authorities approved our implementation it freed up $150million for the business overnight. What a great business case!

Why is a career as a Project Manager a great choice for women?

Project management is a great choice for anyone who has a desire to make a difference and who loves to get things done in collaboration with a team. A great project manager is someone who can build great relationships with stakeholders and with team members and who is a proficient communicator. These are skills that women often excel in. Having a great deal of passion, interest and knowledge about the industry or the subject matter are also great reasons to get involved.

How can women stand out in the field of Project Management?

Women can stand out by setting a good example and by taking the leadership challenge seriously. Far too many project managers are focused only on the mechanical side of running a project. They have a transactional focus. We need more projects mangers – including women – who can step up and truly lead the project. We need women who are interested in the big picture of what the project is ultimately trying to achieve and who works in collaboration with the team to make it happen. A project manager must be strong in their beliefs, yet humble enough for others to want to follow their lead. This is an area where women can really stand out and excel.

What are some of the challenges women face as Project Managers?

Speaking from experience I can say that stress is one of the areas I’ve personally found to be the most challenging. It can be difficult to leave the project at your desk and not think about it 24/7 – let alone to leave the office at a decent hour. Oftentimes however this level of pressure is self-imposed and stems a fear of failure. With the right kind of awareness we can change our attitude and habits and learn to look after ourselves whilst also looking after the project.

What can we do to help women to be exceptional Project Managers?

I’d say that coaching and mentoring is a great way to support women. It can be a lonely job to lead a project and having a sounding board to check in with can make all the difference. Other than we just need really good role models out there who can show the way ☺

Any other comments about Women in Project Management?

For women who would like to dive in further, they can check out my free project management resources here.


To celebrate International Women’s Day for 2018, I will be sharing the profiles and stories of some incredible women who have flourished in their project management careers. May they inspire you and the women around you to kick goals in the world of project management.

Read more about my ‘Celebrating Women in Project Management’ 50-day series here. Starts February 1, 2018.

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  1. Submit your own profile as a PM to be shared and celebrated online!
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