Interviewer: Martin Härri, PMP®, PMI-SP®, PMI-ACP®, Director Corporate Relationships PMI Switzerland Chapter
The PMI Swiss Corporate Networking Group (SCNG) is quite a unique organization within PMI, as very few chapters have a formal network which unites not project professionals, but company representatives. The SCNG was created back in 2010 and is bringing together representatives of over 20 organizations based in Switzerland to share best practices and experiences about project management topics of relevance to their companies. More about the PMI SCNG can be found here.
Starting with this edition, we will feature portraits of the SCNG members in the newsletter, with a focus on the points that matter most to PMI members. We hope you will enjoy this new series of articles, and we are looking forward to your feedback.
SCNG member since: February 2018
Interview Partner: Klaus Christoph Wagener,
Head Project Portfolio Management
“Klaus Christoph, can you tell us a few words about yourself, and how you got into your current position?”
After completing my university studies in Business Administration and Management, I started as a branch manager in a German bank, then went into controlling and accounting, followed by operational risk control for a Bank in Switzerland. At the same time, I deepened my capabilities in change management and then gradually switched to project and program management roles. Finally, I got a call from a former colleague who motivated me to move to SIX in 2019. Independent of the assignment my goal has always been to contribute with my blended experience to the success of the company.
“What kind of projects does SIX have?”
To understand the characteristics of our projects and the dynamics in the portfolio let us briefly look at the company’s purpose: the shareholders of SIX are the banks in Switzerland, and we operate the infrastructure for the financial centers in Switzerland and Spain, thus ensuring the flow of information and money between financial market players. SIX offers exchange services, financial information, and banking services with the aim of increasing efficiency, quality and innovative capacity along the entire value chain. SIX is also building a digital infrastructure for the new millennium, called SDX. With around 4’000 employees and almost 80 nationalities in 19 countries, SIX is a truly international as well as diverse company.
The SIX change portfolio mirrors the business mix, and projects are one of the key means for implementing our strategy. On average, we invest the equivalent of a Swiss single-family home per day in projects for the future of the Swiss and Spanish financial centers. The range of our change activities spans from infrastructure, like networks and platforms, over new products and services to regulatory projects. With the international expansion of SIX, the project scope and the project teams became even more international, too.
“How do you govern projects at SIX?”
Our PRINCE2®-based project management framework is called “PM@SIX”. Much like a highway with its guardrails, our project governance is intended to provide guidance and ensure that (project) goals can be achieved safely, quickly, and successfully – without major obstacles. PM@SIX defines the project lifecycle (stages and gates) for the whole of SIX, roles and responsibilities for the project members as well as the prioritization and authorization process. Due to their individual character every business unit might have complementary rules. The framework is supported by a company-wide project portfolio management tool and a set of mandatory and best-practice templates.
We established a “PM Circle” with management representatives from all business units to continuously improve our framework and keep it up to date. In addition, in 2020 we founded the “SIX PM Community” for project practitioners which is very active in sharing best practices and experiences – good and bad ones – and counts 270 members of which one third even without having the word “project” in their job title.
“Which methodology do you apply when implementing projects?”
We do not prescribe ‘the one approach’ for project implementation. As tailoring is one of the main principles, the implementation approach follows the purpose – means: if the nature of a project asks for a traditional / waterfall approach (e.g. infrastructure) the choice is given. In the majority of our development work agile approaches are applied with a trend towards scaled setups. But even with a waterfall approach we leverage some benefits of agile and e.g., use the same collaboration tools regardless of the approach.
“In the area of project management, what are the main strengths of SIX in your opinion?”
With PM@SIX we have a lean framework providing guidance and transparency. Not a guarantee for project success, but a good foundation. On that basis the advantage of SIX is that we have a great source of experienced, talented employees in change delivery and reliable partnerships with our external suppliers. That together are the ingredients for successful project management. This includes as well that from time to time we must take an informed decision to cease a project as viability might no longer be given. Important is that this does not come as a surprise. We anyhow go beyond project closings and track the realization of promised benefits for some years after the go live.
“Where do you see the challenges/opportunities and trends for project managers at SIX in the coming years?”
There is no difference to other places in the industry: PM / PMO get challenged with the question if the roles are really needed in the future! Here at SIX our current assessment is that the combination of traditional project setups with agile delivery approaches is quite beneficiary, if not crucial to successfully deliver change. We have a legacy and are not a greenfield startup. We operate in an environment which in significant parts of the business is highly regulated and determined by strong dependencies to the development cycles of our clients. Here PM and PMO can prove their added value.
“Why should talented project managers and officers work for SIX?”
First of all: our projects are cutting-edge and challenging in an international environment. They make the Future of Finance happen – now! The day-to-day work in the project space is characterized by a collaborative environment and trust.
Secondly, and evenly important, we believe in the enablement of our employees. Thus, we work with a PM training landscape and provide access to a wide range of internal and external PM trainings and e-learnings. These do not only cover traditional or agile PM methodologies, but as well leadership development and work-life balance / personal development topics. Every employee can pursue an individualized training and development path.
Interested? Figure out openings in SIX project management on SIX-Group.com.