An Executive Perspective on Project Sponsorship
Some Suggestions


By Abid Mustafa 


Over the past decade or so, I have been involved in project work performing a variety of roles. I have led the enterprise PMO and played the role of an executive sponsor, yet there still exists a widespread perception that executives do not do enough to support the delivery of projects.

The gap between perception and reality regarding strong executive sponsorship for project work is closing but not fast enough. I’ll be the first to admit that executives can do much more to play an instrumental role in seeing projects through to the very end. But project teams must appreciate and understand that executives have a tough job at hand.

In addition to project work, C-level executives in general have to manage corporate strategy and departmental plans, commercial matters and contracts, financials and budgets, people and technical resources, administration and logistics, and last but not least office politics. Striking the right balance between project sponsorship and these activities is extremely demanding, and all too often the work load takes its toll.

Nonetheless, this should not serve as a pretext for executives to become inactive spectators when sponsoring projects. On the contrary, it can be argued that by managing the company’s work in terms of projects and programmes, executives can optimize how to manage their work load better.

In this article, I would like to address some important points based on my experience that can help executives become good sponsors by providing the right environment for project teams to deliver successful projects and programmes.

1. Sponsorship must be limited to a few key projects

The practical reality of active sponsorship requires executives to be engaged in less not more project work. Challenging projects and programmes are often taxing on executive time as they involve several meetings to resolve key issues, making intelligent decisions and providing guidance to project teams. This means that executives at best can get directly involved in two or perhaps three— at best—large projects or programmes at any given time. To expect executives to take on more than this runs the risk of executive fatigue, disengagement and in the worst case lip service. To mitigate such situations the company has to strike a fine balance between its aspirations and its capability to deliver.


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About the Author

abid-mustafaflag-uaeAbid Mustafa

Abid Mustafa is a seasoned professional with 18 years’ experience in the IT and Telecommunications industry, specializing in enhancing corporate performance through the establishment and operation of executive PMOs and delivering tangible benefits through the management of complex transformation programs and projects. Currently, he is working as a director of corporate programs for a leading telecoms operator in the MENA region.  Mr. Mustafa is based in Dubai and can be contacted at [email protected].