PMI® Switzerland Chapter


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Editorial PMI Switzerland Newsletter December 2021

Author: Philip SPRINGUEL, PMP 

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Dear faithful readers of the PMI Switzerland Chapter newsletter,

We are pleased again to present a newsletter full of useful information about your chapter, including events and advice to bolster your own continuous improvement.

Your chapter President, Karolina Letowska, shares a motivational Message from the Board to remind us of what’s important in this year-end; and, in her continuing contribution, offers more amazing anecdotes about the 20-year anniversary of the Switzerland Chapter.

For those of you who missed the 10th PMI Switzerland Conference on 29 September in Zurich, we are lucky to have a special behind the scenes look at the highlights of this grand event.

A retrospective of Open Spaces 8 about the PMBOK reminds us of the excellent value of these innovative virtual events, allowing members to share views and draw conclusions in an effective and collaborative way. Similarly, the Community of Practice about Agile reports about its activity and invites you to join in bringing sense to Agile. Mark your calendars for December 14th 2021: Why did I get into Agile?

Seeking advice? Read this month’s book review to learn how to avoid digital exhaustion in remote teams and be an effective virtual leader. And, from the PMI Switzerland Master Class series, learn how to say “no” in a more elegant and constructive way. As always, be sure to check in on our social media channels and consider how you can contribute and volunteer to keep up your precious certifications.

Enjoy the newsletter and hoping you will stay inspired, enjoy the year end break and come back charged up for 2022!


Newsletter Copy Editor

10th PMI CH Conference – Behind the scenes


Martin Härri, PMP®, PMI-SP®, PMI-ACP®, PMI-DASSM®

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Agnieszka Skalska, PMP®, SAFe® RTE

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Danh Nquyen, PMP®, CEng, MEng, MIMechE

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Michèle Bapst

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Salina Santiago, PMP®, APMG PM

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 Jennifer Chang, PMP®

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On 29th of September, the 10th PMI Switzerland Conference took place in Zurich. Considering that Covid-related restrictions were still in force in many areas of life, it was quite a brave thing to do, but eventually the courage paid off: 120 participants came to enjoy 15 presentations under the guiding theme of “Innovation in Project Management – Expertise for Changing Times”. Looking back, we asked the leads of the 4 organization streams about their impressions and memories.


Agnieszka: What is your impression about the Conference? Would you like to organize it again?

Martin (Project Manager): I am so glad that the Conference went smoothly, everything ran like clockwork thanks to the great preparation by the entire team. The spirit of the participants was fantastic, you could really feel that everybody was so glad that they could finally meet and talk in person again. Would I like to organize it again? “Yes” and “Maybe”. Yes because I think we have a concept which works very well, as we can see from the very positive feedback from the participants. And because I have tons of ideas for making it even bigger, e.g. organizing this event with multiple locations which are connected via video. Those that have seen the presentation with Tom who was in Canada, and was giving a presentation together with Mario who was on site, or those that have tried out the Microsoft Surface Hub screens know what I am talking about. This would also be a practical application of innovative ways of collaborating and interacting, which would fit perfectly with the theme of the Conference. And “Maybe” because it was a hell of a lot of work to do besides everybody’s day job, so I’d like to find a concept which is more compatible with the fact that we are all volunteers, either by hiring someone to organize the conference, or by partnering with several companies that allow some employees to organize this event using company work time. Such a setup would make organizing the Conference more “volunteer-friendly”, and bring in different perspectives from even more companies.

Martin: Agnieszka, you were wearing 2 hats in the team, Project Manager and Marketing Lead. What are your impressions from the conference and tell me also if you are happy with the Marketing results? 

Agnieszka (Project Manager): I think that we created a memorable conference atmosphere and for many participants it is going to be a major annual event on innovation in project management. We sold out the event completely and we welcomed 20% more participants than originally planned whilst still following health and safety measures. The conference delivered a profit that will be re-invested in activities for our Members and Volunteers. Many of the participants also decided to join the Chapter. Regarding the Marketing activities, I think we had extremely strong marketing this year. We were very active on all our social media channels and we beat our internal record on Impressions (The total number of times your posts have been viewed). Nevertheless, there are still some things that we can do better. The key findings of our retrospective were handed over to the PMI CH Board. Now we will work together on their implementation to make the 11th PMI Conference even better for our participants.

Martin: Michele, you were leading the participants team and you were the first person that came to the Convention Point. I saw you talking to many participants. What did they say about the conference? Do we already have survey results? Can you share some insights?

Michèle (lead Participants team): I am very proud of the very positive feedback that we received. It looks like everyone was extremely happy to be among other people again. We received an excellent score for the conference organization in our survey - on a scale of 1 to 5 we received a 4.7. There are still some elements that we need to improve, such as the online experience or credit card payment but I am sure that by the next conference we will implement these changes.

Agnieszka: Salina, you were responsible for speakers selections. It must be an extremely difficult task. Which criteria did you use? Do you think that the chosen Speakers fit in well to our conference topic: Innovation in Project Management, Expertise for Changing Times? And please let us in on a secret; if someone wants to speak at the conference next year - what does he/she need to do?

Salina (lead Speaker team): 

It was great that the PMI Conference team came up with a timely and relevant theme for the conference. That really helped to frame and focus the search for speakers and topics. Our aim was to find professional speakers who share expertise and subject matter passion through unique delivery styles. In particular we looked for people who can bring diverse perspectives to the conversation as well as practical, real-world practices that participants could take away and apply.  It was also important to provide a balance of technical, transformational and personal development topics - something for everyone. so to speak. With the pandemic situation, face to face meetings with our speakers were limited but luckily we could interact on a visual platform (Teams, Zoom, Skype) and see them in action through their videos, website and social channels. 

For next year’s conference, we have a bit of a head start as there is a prospective list of candidates who could not commit for various reasons this year but would be willing to come forward next year. If anyone is interested, just contact any of the PMI conference team members. 

Martin: Jenny, tell me if you are a bee, a kangaroo, an eagle or a shark? As a Networking team lead for sure you were an eagle, right? Please share your impressions which networking activities participants liked the most? 

Jenny (lead Networking team): Indeed, I am an “eagle”! As a Networking facilitator, it is important to provide the right environment that motivates people to share and exchange with each other. This is great to watch from a distance. We were initially concerned about the Covid situation and the willingness of participants to interact  face to face. As such, we prepared some “networking triggers” for the participants, to be on the safe side. But, following a smooth certificate check, everyone interacted like Covid-19 never existed! In retrospect, our worries were unfounded, as participants were so glad to finally meet and exchange “live and in 3D” again. The evening eventually ended with a vibrant apero and a tour through our F10 Startup Accelerator, where participants could learn about the process of turning a regular office building into a space that fosters innovation. For the “hard-core” participants, there was also a live concert, which concluded the event.

Agnieszka: Danh, you were on our risk list as a crucial team member, without you we wouldn't have an amazing website, great pictures and our articles would be full of English grammar errors. You must have received many appreciation cards!  How did you enjoy organizing the conference? Are there any lessons learnt that we should take into account for the next year?

Danh (Marketing team): The conference was a lot of fun to organise for me, mainly because of the people I was working with. We got on well with each other and I didn’t find it to be “work” at all, except perhaps the last minute rush to get the designs out (though that was my fault really!). In terms of lessons learnt for next year, I would say to have the branding and templates defined early. The content will always come a bit later due to dependencies on other teams, but at least then, when the content is available, it is just a simple case of minor editing before publishing. 


About the authors:

Martin Härri

30+ years of experience in project management in consulting and financial services, having led more than a dozen project and program offices. Founding member of the PMI Switzerland Chapter, has held various volunteer roles, including event and conference organizer, board member, and Chapter president. In addition to organizing the Conference, he currently manages the organization network of the Chapter.

Agnieszka Skalska
11+ years of experience in global business transformations, project and program management. Executed over 20 projects for financial services, management consulting and manufacturing industries. Solid business acumen in Operational Excellence, Project Management, Change Management and Information Technology. Always follows the fundamental values of integrity, innovation and collaboration. Growth Mindset. PMI Board Member, responsible for Brand Management and Development.

Danh Nguyen

Mechanical Engineer and Project Manager in the mining and minerals industry. Enjoys working with people towards a common goal, trusting in the team to deliver in their own expertise. Supports the PMI Brand Management and Development team whenever possible.

Michèle Bapst

A highly service orientated person which matches her role in the Project Manager Office at SIX working with all kinds of experts from different areas. Despite often being a challenge at the beginning, she takes pleasure in a good working, harmonized team. When possible, she enjoys being in nature, especially in her cabin in the mountains!

Salina Santiago

25+ years experience in delivering programs and shaping portfolios in insurance, financial services, pharmaceutical, logistics in global organisations and complex environments. Enthusiastic and passionate about change management, innovation and business partnering towards value delivery and operational excellence. Member of PMI SCNG and PMI Conference Stream Lead for Program and Speakers.

Jennifer Chang

Has a career spanning 19 years in the financial services industry, from Data Production to Customer Support. Fully utilises her strengths of encouraging teams to collaborate and achieving a successful outcome as Project Management, Organisational Change Management and Innovation have become the areas of domain expertise over the last 14 years.

Book Review – Remote Work Revolution by Tsedal Neeley

Author:  Florian Puschmann, PMP

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I still remember vividly when we set up a workshop with a customer in a special video conferencing room a good five years ago. A couple of specialists were involved to hook up the two companies and their special rooms to make it happen. 

As you are reading this now, you are probably asking yourself why this is a big deal. That is precisely the point. Remote collaboration and hybrid work arrangements are becoming the norm in many industries to manage the interconnected global economy. Many of us, including myself, forget what this looked like just a few years back. While the fast global digitalization in the last two years accelerated this development, the remote work trend already started in the 90's.

The question now is no longer if dispersed remote teams work but rather how to make them work. 

Hence, now is an excellent time to take a moment, reflect, upskill and adjust to this new working style. 

Therefore, I was excited when I came across the recent book “Remote Work Revolution” by Harvard Business School Professor Tsedal Neeley. 

In her book, Tsedal offers background knowledge and hands-on strategies. I especially enjoyed that the content is backed by a good 50 years’ worth of solid research. Further, her book includes an extensive action guide that provides lots of ideas for direct experimentation and implementation in your daily work.

After a brief introduction to why remote work is not only much better than its reputation but also here to stay, the book dives into various areas of the topic.

As a basis, a framework is presented to “relaunch” your remote team for the most effective collaboration. The key elements of shared goals, understanding, and norms are almost too obvious. What is highly interesting though are the tools and techniques that are provided to achieve this outcome. Next, Tsedal takes her readers on a tour de force of the various dimensions to consider. 

Different elements of trust are covered. More importantly, she shows how to build trust to create resilient teams with high psychological safety.  

One of the key current topics is how to avoid digital exhaustion in remote teams. This topic is addressed with a general framework that allows avoiding digital exhaustion and how to use these tools to maximize productivity.

What fascinated me was the chapter that focused on the contrast of what it means to lead virtually. Different leadership techniques and skills are needed to promote a common purpose and harness productive conflict for the best overall outcomes. This holds especially true because the leader is never “in the room”. 

As a project manager, I was further intrigued by the chapter on how a traditional in-person agile team transitioned to a highly effective virtual team. This transition was not entirely deliberate, as the team fell apart at first when the pandemic sent everyone into a remote setting.  Tsedal presents this case study providing hands-on tweaks on making the methodology work that was initially designed for in-person interaction.

I hope this little review made you curious to explore this new “remote work handbook” to not only make remote work “work” but thrive!

Florian Puschmann, PhD, PMP

PM Master Class: Become your own chairperson and set boundaries

Author: Monika Keller, PMP

Monika Keller

Dear members and friends of the PMI Switzerland Chapter,

Today I'm sharing one of my favorite questions with you.

Think about it consciously:

-> If you say "yes" to X, what are you saying "no" to?

Why is this one of my favorite questions?
Because it sums up so well what is important to you in life. 

You are allowed to decide over and over again.

Let's say you have invited friends over for dinner. You haven't seen them for ages. After all, everyone is always busy. You've already done the shopping. At 5 p.m. you want to go home, but the CEO comes to you. He urgently needs you at a meeting tomorrow and you have to present a report. You didn't know about it until now. 

Apparently, your predecessor used to do it and it was forgotten until now. 

What do you do?

1. You send an SMS to your friends. Unfortunately, something came up and you have to postpone the dinner at short notice. You put in a night shift to prepare the documents (to the best of your knowledge) and shine at the boss the next day. 

2. You ask what exactly it is about. Right now, unfortunately, you're scheduled and can't take care of the details, but it's good that you have a meeting about it tomorrow. Then you can discuss it together right away. You will then hear what is required and can ask further questions. If the report is actually to be written by you, you will have a few more days for it. But maybe it would be an idea to have it done externally, since you have enough on your plate anyway....

What would you do?

Many people may find themselves leaning towards number 2, knowing that it may be better for their long-term mental and physical health. However, in reality, they often lack the courage and confidence to say “no” to a superior, so they may just try their best at both, preparing the dinner for friends (constantly looking at their watch and begging them to leave early) and trying to produce some kind of report for the next day for the meeting during the night, feeling guilty and stressed.

What if… you exchanged with others in this or a similar situation, learned what they came up with as alternative responses and did some practice with tips from me from my coaching and PMP practice, strengthened your confidence and learned how to say “no” in a more elegant and constructive way?

You can learn this as any other skill and you will see, it will get easier with time. Register now to secure your seat at the March 2022 Master Class on how to become your own chairperson and set boundaries at work. You can find more information at PMI Master Class (

I hope to see you there.

Have a great holiday season, some days to relax and let the year pass by. 

Next time someone wants something from you at short notice, remember to think about, "If you say yes to X, what do you say no to?" and then decide consciously.

Warm regards,


P.S. If you want to know more about me, visit

Anecdotes of the early PMI Switzerland years, continued

Author: Karolina Letowska, PMP

PMI Switzerland Chapter President 

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As we are still celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Chapter, we continue with anecdotes from the past. “My” first president of the chapter, Paul Selwold, a very positive and charismatic person, shared his memory of the chapter. I still remember when we met at our first Board of Directors dinner, I was then elected as VP Finance. Paul said to me: Karo, so you are my VP Finance… hmm that would be an interesting year for us… and he smiled.

Anecdotes from Paul Selwold

My favorite memory, overall, is one that occurred when I had been volunteering as a journalist in the Comms team.  Since we are a distributed team, it was rare to see one another face-to-face, and we decided to have a Saturday afternoon together at the Blausee.  Team members arrived from every direction.

As it turned out, I was able to connect with Filippo Meloni on the way. He boarded the train at Olten that I was riding from Zurich.  We had a great time catching up and talking about life and enjoying the prospect of finally having the team together.  Then, from Bern to Blausee, we had to board the Postbus which went up the mountain. And during this time, shortly before we arrived at Blausee, it occurred to me that I did not bring anything to start the campfire with!  I asked Filippo if he had anything.  No. When we arrived at Blausee, I asked at the gift shop if they had matches or lighters.  No.

So there we were, waiting for the others to arrive, holding raw meat that we could not cook.

As people arrived, it was clear, no one smoked and so no one had any matches.  But we were all saved by Michael Schmid, clearly the one trained to survive in the woods.  With barely a shrug, he collected two twigs and started a campfire in the rain that had started to fall.  We were all able to enjoy cooked meat after all!  We had a great day in the end.  When we finished cooking, a family standing not far away approached and asked if they could borrow our fire if we were finished with it.  And I have repeated this story many times, usually when I see Michael has joined the group, because the trajectory from misery to happiness was so quick and so well appreciated by everyone.  

In the past years we have many memories together which will stay with us and be shared with the next PMI Switzerland generations.

I hope the Chapter has still many years to go and many stories to build.

All the best,

Karolina Letowska

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