CELEBRATING WOMEN IN PROJECT MANAGEMENT 2020 SERIES
Location: Calgary, Canada
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I was born and raised in Italy, where I attained a master’s degree in Environmental and Geotechnical Engineering. Over the last 20 years I’ve worked as an engineer and project manager of multimillion projects in Italy, United Kingdom and Australia, before moving to Canada in 2013. Being a girl in a big man’s world, I’ve always been passionate about diversity, inclusion and gender equality. I am currently the vice-chair of the Women in APEGA (Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta) Advisory Group. As well as being focused on my profession and my family, I am also a blogger, a vlogger and a writer. I regularly write articles for national and international blogs. I won an international poetry prize in 2001 for my poems collection titled towards the goal . I have recently published my first illustrated children’s book about climate change and migration titled The Bipolar Bear.
What is your project management super power?
In my opinion, effective communication is the key to successful projects. I find that many people want to talk but not many are willing to listen. In a world of fast communication, listening has become a true super power. I also treat everyone in my team, from the sponsor to the equipment operator, equally. I am approachable and trustworthy. I believe everyone in my team feels comfortable with sharing sensitive information with me – whether it’s professional or, sometimes, even personal
How can gender diversity be improved in the project management profession?
Things are gradually changing but there is still a lot of work to do. Today’s world is built upon a male dream. Women are required to adapt to a male style in order to succeed – the other way around is not yet possible or acceptable. Women shouldn’t need to be behave like men to be successful. In fact, many of our qualities such as our emotional intelligence are fundamentally important to creating a good working environment and consequently, a successful experience.
As the profession evolves, what skills do you think will be key for future success?
We will need to be able to adapt to a fast changing world. In 10 years’ time, the majority of the people working will be Millennial and Gen Z. There will be a huge generational shift which will translate into a shift of values and policies. On top of that, technology will impact even further the way we work and interact with each other. I am not saying our profession will change for the worse. Nonetheless, the change will occur. We will need to be receptive and prepared for it.
How do you recover from difficult situations?
I am a positive person but I am also impulsive. Negative experiences can have a huge effect on my mood, my confidence and my way of approaching different situations. This said, I never hold on to a “bad experience” for too long. I tend to discuss things to get it out of my system. I want to make sure that people understand what my perspective is and I also want to understand theirs. It’s not always easy, especially when there are “egos” involved. The recovery from a difficult situation is challenging but it can also become an opportunity to grow stronger and wiser. Like for any project, even the most successful ones, there are always lessons to be learnt.
What are your tips and techniques for conflict resolution?
Each one of us is different so the same technique may no work well with everyone. We need to understand our personality traits and the personality traits of the people we deal with so that we can tailor our approach depending on the different situation and scenario. Again, I think an open communication is the key to a better outcome. This is not always possible, especially if the people involved have different levels of power/responsibility or are too “invested”. Yet, l believe that trying to walk in someone else’s shoes and understand where he/she may come from is never a waste of time. There is always something to learn from everyone.
Which 3 words best describe why you enjoy being a project manager?
Vision, communication, passion (and Team Building…I know, it’s a fourth!).
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