The Monday Interview: The delicate art of making it happen

The Monday Interview: The delicate art of making it happen

Ireland’s largest annual conference for project managers takes place in Cork this month. Pádraig Hoare speaks with the project manager who will oversee the event, Clodagh Geary

The Monday Interview: The delicate art of making it happen

It’s a not an easy task, project managing the project managers, but Clodagh Geary is well-prepared when the industry’s largest annual conference takes place in Cork for the first time this month.

More than 300 delegates from across the country will attend the Ireland Chapter of Project Management Institute’s (PMI) national conference at Fota Island Resort February 28 — the first time it will be held outside Dublin.

There are currently over 50,000 people employed in project management across Ireland, in sectors such as IT, public sector, construction, pharmaceuticals, professional services, financial services, and manufacturing.

The 2019 conference theme of ‘From Idea to Reality’ will explore how project management is utilised to deliver projects from conception to completion — timely, considering the high-profile public projects making negative headlines in recent weeks.

Ms Geary said: “Project management is all about delivering change. Change is tough and demands a methodical approach to be successfully adopted. Each project has a start and a finish, and so needs to be planned carefully in order to finish on time.

“It involves efficiently guiding the team through all phases until project completion, dealing with stakeholders’ demands and avoiding project risks along the way. Each project is unique, so project management is a very rewarding profession where every day can teach a new lesson.”

The Ireland chapter of PMI has over 1,400 members, and there was a range of factors in bringing it to Cork, Ms Geary said.

“The conference has been running for over 10 years and the decision to bring it to Cork is three-fold — due to the sheer volume of Chapter members living in the Munster region; the ease of location given that Cork is easily reachable from Dublin via the motorway or train and also convenient to get to from Kerry, Waterford, Tipperary and other regional towns; and the increased number and value of projects being managed in the Munster region.

“In the past year, over €5bn worth of project spend has been managed out of the broader Cork region, from pharma to engineering, from software to construction.”

Speakers include architect Dermot Bannon; founder of FoodCloud, Aoibheann O’Brien; Ireland international hockey star, Yvonne O’Byrne; founding member of the global PMI, Jim Snyder; managing director of Dale Carnegie Ireland, Walter Bradley; and director of growth at AidTech, Danny Curran.

They will outline how to use key project management skills to deliver ideas to reality, from designing state-of-the-art homes, to winning a World Cup medal to utilising disruptive technologies to achieve results, said Ms Geary.

The Monday Interview: The delicate art of making it happen

Good project management is all about engagement, she says.

“Every project needs to be managed that it is delivered on time, on budget and with quality. However, for very large, complex projects, or for multiple projects running simultaneously, there are additional areas that need to be carefully managed such as risk, procurement, stakeholders, resources and communication.

“The most common factor that can influence the outcome of a project’s delivery is having a lot of stakeholders, some of whom may have conflicting requirements. Good project management is all about engaging with stakeholders, meeting their needs, addressing their objections, and getting the project from idea to reality,” she said.

It is a career well worth pursuing, Ms Geary said.

“There are huge prospects with project management and it’s a fabulously varied career. Project managers develop skills that cross industries, so it is a great career that enables someone to navigate international borders and sector verticals. There is a global shortage of talent and last year our national survey of members highlighted that 31% found the skilled workers shortage the greatest challenge of project delivery. There is a massive demand for experienced technical project managers and a dearth in the supply.

“After living in Australia for a number of years, and running my own business in Cork, in 2016 I joined Aspira, an Irish-owned technology firm based in Little Island as head of marketing. There I found the energy and common purpose to be just what I had been searching for.

“I have a diploma in project management, and in 2017, I joined the Ireland Chapter of the Project Management Institute as a member, and later the same year went on the volunteer committee.”

Rather than be daunted by the prospect of her peers evaluating her skills at the conference, she is relishing the challenge.

“Project management is about initiating, planning and executing work to achieve end goals within a certain period of time,” she said. “This conference is no different.”

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