Sunday, December 17, 2017

Project Management

The Growth Mantra

The PMI India National Conference 2014 saw project management practitioners converge on Hyderabad. Report by PANCHALEE THAKUR

As India prepares for a change of gear from a state of “policy paralysis” of the previous government to a state of swift action of the new government, it needs to stay focused on long-term development and not mere short-term measures for populist reasons. To attain Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s promise of “achche din” or ‘good days’, the mantra must be sustainable growth.

PMI India’s Project Management National Conference 2014 used “Project Management – the Mantra for Sustainable Growth” as a timely theme to discuss how project management could provide the country the competence it needs to plan and execute projects well.

The sixth annual conference, organised by PMI Pearl City Chapter, took place on 11-13 September 2014 at the Hyderabad International Convention Center. Delegates from around the country attended the much awaited event to gain knowledge and insights on project management from the experts, share their experiences, and network with peers and seniors.

While keynotes by PMI leaders, industry experts, and senior government officials added to the delegates’ knowledge bank, talks by a spiritual leader, a theater personality, and a cricket star provoked thought and ideas on life skills improvement. There were project management lessons to learn not just from the experience of others but also in the stories of wit and wisdom from ancient times that many of the speakers recounted. 

The coveted PMI India Project of the Year awards were presented during the conference. These annual awards recognise and honour organisations for their outstanding project management practices.

Larsen & Toubro won the Project of the Year in the large category, whereas the Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. won in the medium category, and National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) Ltd. won in the small category. The Evangelical Fellowship of India Commission on Relief was adjudged the winner of the Project of the Year - NGO award and NTPC picked up its second award – the Project of the Year in the contribution to the community category.

 

INSIGHTS FROM KEYNOTES

During the inaugural session, Ricardo Triana, Director, Chair 2014 PMI Board of Directors, spoke about the need for organisations to be prepared to manage the skills deficit in the market in the coming years, and for practitioners to adapt to the changing business environment and to learn the necessary skills for career progression. “For new projects to take off, the real problem is not money but people,” he said. “Organisations and practitioners need to prepare to match skills with requirements. The economy is changing and you have to be prepared for any eventuality. Avoid a situation where when reality comes to the door, plan jumps through the window.”

Raj Kalady, Managing Director, PMI India, urged delegates to come forward for chapter volunteering activities. The conference, which was organised by chapter volunteers, was also an occasion to honor long-standing chapter members. “Good things happen when you are involved with PMI. Rather than hearing it from me, learn about the benefits of being with PMI from these long-standing members who have been with PMI for over 10 years,” Kalady said.

Expanding on the conference theme, Srinivas Kopparapu, Conference Chairperson, said that to fulfil one’s vision, one has to achieve one’s goals repeatedly, and such sustainable success comes only through a deep sense of focus and commitment.

Through the next two days, speakers from industry, government, entertainment, sports, and spirituality provided insights on ways to become more effective project managers.

Ramesh Iyer, Managing Director, Mahindra & Mahindra Financial Services Ltd., who is a firm believer of analysing failure and learning from it, urged practitioners to take collective responsibility for project failure, just as they collectively create a project ecosystem. Alok Lall, Business Group Director, Microsoft Office Department, enumerated ways in which an organisation can leverage existing technologies and drive growth to achieve project success.  NVS Reddy, Managing Director, Hyderabad Metro Rail Ltd., spoke about the challenges faced by the massive Public Private Partnership project in Hyderabad and the measures that were being adopted to complete the project within scope and time.

Theater personality and advertising film maker, Alyque Padamsee, put his audience engaging skills to good use as he took delegates on a short journey through current politics, literature, and history to enunciate unique qualities in leaders.  Former Indian cricketer,  VVS Laxman, energised the audience with stories from his childhood, the cricket field, and the players’ dressing room, and some important lessons that helped him stay focused and motivated during his early, chequered career. Vedic preacher and founder of Jeeyar Educational, Sri Chinna Jeeyar Swami, spoke about the need for an emotional connect at work to achieve results in a de-stressed environment.

 

OTHER KNOWLEDGE SESSIONS

Early bird registrants for the conference received a bonus session in the form of an engaging workshop on how to set up a project management office. The full-house, pre-conference workshop set the tone for the rest of the three days of a highly participative conference.

Through two other interactive sessions – an interview on entrepreneurial skills and a panel discussion on institutionalising project management in the government – delegates got an up close look at how different challenges need different, inventive approaches.

A key highlight this year was the case study presentations on wide ranging topics – from a mega IT modernisation project at the 160-year-old Indian postal department, the making of a new terminal at Mumbai International Airport while the airport was still operational, to applying project management in mergers and acquisitions. In all, seven case studies were presented during the conference.

Delegates also looked forward to the technical paper presentations by peers. This year, 21 technical papers were presented. For the first time this year, there were prizes to be won for the two best technical paper presentations.

BEYOND KNOWLEDGE GATHERING

Each year, the conference host chapter enhances the experience of delegates by adding a new touch to an existing conference feature. This year, besides the knowledge sessions in a wide range of formats, the hosts had created new opportunities for delegates to network and some exciting ways to take back memories of the conference.

The conference mobile app provided an alternative social platform to chat with fellow delegates, post questions to speakers, take parts in contents, and share feedback.

A highly popular activity on the app was the “selfie” contest in which delegates competed with each other to take the maximum number of “selfies”.

The other must-do at the conference was a visit to the photo booth that had an image of Hyderabad’s historic Charminar as a backdrop and placards with fun, pithy messages on project management as props. Almost all the delegates used up their photo booth coupons.

There was excitement in store right till the tail end of the conference. The project management quiz took an inventive form this year with the inclusion of a “practical round” in which contestants built a tower using spaghettis and paper cups.

At the end of the third day, the baton for hosting the conference was passed on to the president of the Bangalore Chapter. The dates and venue of the 2015 conference in Bangalore will be announced later.

 




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