New Frontiers – APM Conference 2014 round-up


4 April 2014 – London, UK – Conference chairman Mary McKinlay officially opened the annual APM Project Management Conference , sponsored by 20|20 Business Insight, on Wednesday, 3 April 2014 at London’s Kings Place conference centre with an upbeat message.

She told delegates: “Being a project manager in our profession is a really exciting thing to do – we have got wonderful projects on the way and the way in which we work is changing.”

140404-pmwj22-2014-IMAGEOutlining the days theme of New Frontiers and the separate ‘three fantastic streams’ – New Sectors, Diversify and Behaviours, Beliefs and Values, she urged those present to learn from the speakers they were about to hear and go back to their places of work “full of ideas about good practice.”

Image: closing speaker Prof Eddie Obeng

Before introducing the day’s opening speaker she reminded delegates of their responsibility to embrace and move forward. “New Frontiers brings to mind borders, stopping points and security and all the dangerous things we worry about – we need to learn from the experiences of the speakers, go back and welcome change.

“We have a responsibility to welcome change,” Mary said. “We can’t stick where we have been for years, doors are opening and we have a target, we have to get much better success rates for our projects.”

Throughout the day, and across all streams, delegates were reminded of the importance of people – the need to listen, understand and engage with them, in order to deliver the best projects.

The impact of the opening keynote speakers’ talk at the APM Conference, set the standard for the day.

Camila Batmanghelidjh CBE, the multi-award winning founder of children’s charities Place2Be and Kids Company, took delegates on an inspirational and emotional journey through her life and work with some of the most traumatised and vulnerable young children in London. She told a captivated audience that in order to deliver a package of care for disturbed children she used a completely different methodology from the standard punishment model, trying to move to more nurturing methods and highlighting to the conference the science behind this.

Many attendees described her speech as ‘refreshing’ as it was able to allow project managers to draw lessons from her experience without being a direct discussion about project management. However, she was keen for delegates to take away a few key messages with them also.

“Good project management is about identifying the philosophy by which you want to manage the project. Both in terms of what you deliver and also why you’re doing it and having strong evidence to back up your philosophy. Once you have this solid idea, don’t give up.

“I want project and programme managers to stare truth in the eye and then operate by it,” said Camilla. “If you are a project manager, strive for quality and truth and success will come from the back of that. If you’re striving for success on its own it won’t work.”

The day ended on a high from closing speaker Professor Eddie Obeng. The founder of the world’s first virtual business school, Pentacle, didn’t disappoint as he took the audience on a motivational, entertaining and interactive journey through the day’s experiences, recognising the importance of people in project management and the future roles they will play.

Asking the audience to set the agenda for his speech with questions, he told delegates to look at the people aspect and ‘step into their shoes’. “We need to engage our people and put fire in their bellies,” he said, “it is then likely that they will go and do something amazing.”

And he called on project managers to “stop thinking about not changing” but to make some space for themselves too. “Take the time to ground yourself. Find something that will help you refocus and then help you go forward.”

Telling project managers they need to build trust, by slowing down and minimising surprises, he added: “Going slower means engaging and involving people and building their trust before executing the project.”

On closing he had these words for all involved in the profession and their future projects, echoing the APM vision of a world in which all projects succeed.

“There is no reason why projects can’t be perfect,” he added, “It is possible and we are learning how to achieve this right now. We are the ones who change the world.”

A full round up on the APM Conference 2014 will feature in May’s issue of Project magazine. Catch up: APM Conference 2014 presentations slides (more presentations to follow, subject to permission being granted.)

Founded in 1972, the APM is a registered charity in the UK with more than 21,000 individual and 540 corporate members.  APM’s mission is: “To develop and promote the professional disciplines of project and programme management for the public benefit.”   The APM is dedicated to the development of professional project, programme and portfolio management across all sectors of industry and beyond. APM, with branches throughout the UK and in Hong Kong, is the UK national representative in the International Project Management Association (IPMA).  More information at http://www.apm.org.uk

Source: Association for Project Management