Blog

Chapter Communications Blog

Volunteer of the year 2022

Author: Joachim Dehais

VP Volunteers

Joachim Dehais 100px

 

Old habits die hard, and volunteers are undefeated. We have voted once more for our top volunteers this year, and I sure hope you were a contender.

 

Books

Coming hot in the top 4 is Daniel Rodellar, who's been instrumental in our communications and particularly the newsletter. Next is our very own Martin Härri, who has kept the engine on high RPM for the conference and the Swiss Corporate Networking Group. Finally shines Valérie Pierre, who has grabbed the Zurich events team and run with it to new heights.

Each of them will receive a book, you know me, and having had our AMM in Bern, they could not avoid receiving Mandelbärli, either. Thank you, Daniel, Martin, and Valérie, for your engagement and company, it has been a pleasure, and I hope it will continue.

 

2

 

The volunteer of the year for 2022 is Leandro Benda! Leandro has shot up since he joined and has found a place in the heart of others with his great efforts and disposition. Leandro first gets this negotiation & supply game, to strengthen his skills while beating his friends. Second, a book on using your voice for good, a discussion we had when he arrived. Finally, I received access to an experimental tool from Rutgers business school. Leandro can now help us survive the geopolitical climate by training us on competitive supply chain management.

 

3

The President’s Award went to Prasanth Nair who was recognized for his long service to the Zurich events team, where he has been the event director from 2014 to 2022 after joining the chapter in 2009! “Prasanth made a difference for the Chapter and especially for the event region Zurich, which he led over the last 8 years,” said Stefan Vesenmeier, Chapter President 2022.

We also thank Thierry Altenhoven, Gessami Sanchez Olle and Benoîte Bargeton Grisouard who have contributed enormously before moving on last year. May your path be as bright and sweet as having you here was pleasant and productive.

Finally, we extend our thanks and gratitude to the board members who stepped down this year, Agnieszka Skalska, VP Brand Management & Development, Claudia Rassalski VP Finance and Pia Henzelmann, VP Events & PMIEF.

And with shameless self-promotion in mind, I hope you will be tempted to join us as a volunteer and participate in this grand adventure too.

Joachim

2022 Volunteer’s Day in Luzerne

Author: Ganesh Gopalan, PMP

Ganesh Gopalan

 

 “Volunteers don't get paid, not because they're worthless, but because they're priceless”- Sherry Anderson

The above adage holds fit, as could be seen on Volunteer’s Day held on October 8th, 2022, in the beautiful city of Luzern. PMI Switzerland Chapter treated its volunteers in a very special way. It was a full day program neatly chalked out that started with a ship ride from Lake Lucerne to the foothills of Mt. Pilatus. The one-hour ride was marked with a lot of selfies, great networking, serious discussion, and friendly banters amongst the volunteers. From there, we took the Cog train to the top of Mt. Pilatus. What an amazing climb over the steep mountain, that was! From there, we further trekked to the peak and were stunned by what nature has to offer it to us. We were literally on “top of the world” 😊. Such breath-taking views, with the mild fog, light drizzle – volunteers munching chips, snacks with a lot of “Camera, Action” – the experience was truly amazing. In fact, the weather went out of way to support us by not raining heavily and spoiling the show! After spending a good amount of time, we stepped down to the beautiful restaurant for lunch.

The restaurant was spacious, and we treated ourselves to a sumptuous gourmet meal. Over “innocent” chit-chat we discussed Project Management, Agile, PMI etc., and made new friends across the table. The return was on a different route with another new experience. Yes - we returned via Cable Car and needless to stay, it was one of the best experiences ever. We got to see lush green trees shedding their autumn leaves in hues of green and red, followed faintly by the jingling of bells far away from the herding of Cows. We equally admired the architectural marvel of installing heavy poles for the Cable Cars in such rugged mountains, years ago! We reached the last stop at ground level in Luzern and quickly rushed to the venue for a workshop on “Speaking with Impact”.

“Speaking with Impact” workshop was conducted by Mr. Damien Gauthier, a well-known actor, director, TEDX speaker and an UX lead and team manager. These were the key take-aways from the session:

1.     Enunciating with presence (physical)

2.     Conveying a clear idea (intellectual)

3.     Being attentive and open (relaxed posture)

4.     Intonations and body posture

5.     Delivering a pitch talk perfectly

6.     Pre-exercises before attending an important meeting – In-person or Online

Several tips and hacks were taught to us on how to make ourselves more presentable in a group, how to ensure our ideas get across the audience and how to be as effectively as possible to win over in a discussion. Lot of emphasis was laid on clarity of thought and communication and the sync between them and its nuances. The 4-hour session was interspersed with real time scenarios, anecdotes, and several foods for thought. The instructor answered all our questions patiently along with a few video visuals to point out the general flaws made while talking in public and how to overcome them with great ease. The workshop was highly satisfying to all the volunteers and a special thanks to PMI Switzerland President, office bearers and more importantly to VP Volunteers – Joachim Dehais for organizing such an event impeccably under his guidance. Joachim was instrumental in ensuring each of us were well taken care of and the event went smoothly without any glitch.

Overall, this was one of the best events of the year and we look forward to more such great events in future. Thanks to all those who participated and gained out of this event.

 

Interview with Marc Lahmann, Partner - Project & Portfolio Management (PPM) at PwC

Author: Ganesh Goplan, PMP

Marc is a Consulting Partner with PwC Switzerland, leading the Program & Project Portfolio Management and Core Platform Transformation Practice at PwC Switzerland. He has more than 20 years of experience in advising multinational firms on technology and business transformational challenges. Marc is driving AI initiatives for project management and has been advocating and speaking on the use of AI in project management for a couple of years.

When the entire world is moving towards AI, why do you think it could be a failure in Project Management?

We don’t believe it is a failure but looking at a short to medium timeframe, it doesn’t live up to the hype. Just a couple of years ago AI was praised as the new technology changing the world by storm, yet it is mostly applied in very specific use cases with close boundaries, like playing a game of GO or detecting cancer with a higher probability.


In these use cases there was enough data in the needed quality available for the AI to learn from. In project management, a lot of the data is in a form that sufficiently supports the project teams, but is hard to read for a machine (hand written notes, meetings, flip charts etc.). Therefore it cannot yet deliver on what we were promised years ago. As an assistant to project managers AI can bring in value, just not as the hype made us all believe it would.

What are the kinds of automation we would see in the field of Project Management?

The first phase of evolution of AI in project management is within integration and automation on standardized project tasks like budget updates based on a dataset that is integrated into a forecast report or auto scheduling of meetings.

A second phase could be chatbot assistance, taking over a bigger role in human-computer interaction, like organizing meetings, plan vs progress checks and sending out reminders. We also see minutes as something an AI chatbot could help with, and that rather sooner than later. 

In a third phase, AI in project management introduces machine learning into project management practice. In the near future, AI could convert mind maps created by project professionals into a semantic network and derive tasks and their relationships from it. For instance, AI-based project scheduling could include lessons learned from previous projects and suggest multiple possible schedules based on the context and dependencies. An AI system could even alert the project manager to potential risks and opportunities by using real-time project data analysis.

As the last phase, similar to self-driving cars, autonomous project management would only need limited input and intervention from a human project manager. Besides technical project management processes – which are what the previous three phases primarily focus on – an autonomous project management system will additionally need to comprehensively consider and master the project environment and related stakeholders. These AI systems would therefore have to be able to apply sentimental analysis algorithms to crawl through customer communications and understand stakeholder satisfaction and commitment at any given point in time. 

So, how do you foresee the future roadmap for Project Managers? Do they really need to scale up on AI, NLP etc.?

As AI will start to be more and more introduced into the world of project management, its success will also be dependent on the ease of use. We believe that you need to have an understanding about the technologies you are using. The project managers who succeed with AI will likely be those who manage to see beyond the bounds of ‘human’ imagination, and answer questions about how this technology can add real value and drive positive change in project management and business transformations. This will ensure the strategic value of project management.

Project Managers are needed for the risk taking factors and sensible judgment (humanness), at times, take decisions that do not conform to rational logic. Could AI fail in these areas?

It depends on the definition of failure, most likely the AI would take or propose different decisions – but this again depends heavily on the available training data for the AI. If such decisions were introduced in past projects and have worked out to great success, then the AI might emulate such a decision or recommend similar action because it has learned that this is successful. AI will undoubtedly change how projects are delivered and how project management as a practice will evolve. In the midst of this evolution it is important to remember that there is something AI cannot do – be human. This means that project managers will also stay relevant in the age of AI if they focus on the core skills of project management and progressively move into work that emphasizes human skills. This includes: Leadership, People and stakeholder management,  Communication (verbal & non-verbal), Storytelling, Empathy, Emotional intelligence, Negotiation. In summary, we believe that AI will assist, not replace, project managers, the big decisions will therefore be data assisted, but never autonomously taken by a computer.

Where would Organization invest - best PMs or AI implementation? How is the cost factor leveraged from the Organization's perspective?

A new generation of data engineers is entering the job market and looking for possibilities in the business world. An investment early on into these specialists will help companies to get an edge on how to store, manage and use project management data in a way that is preparing them for the future with AI assisted project management. The more mature AI technologies will become, the better will early adopters find ways to leverage their knowledge and skills on the new possibilities the technology brings. In our view the investment should be first into the people, then into the data collection and afterwards into technology, starting with proven methods like document scanning, on which you can build up on.

Digressing a bit from the topic:) - What is the ground reality? - Do certifications such as PMP, Agile, Six Sigma Lean etc., still hold a weightage in the recruitment process?

Project Management Certifications are still and will remain relevant in the future in the recruitment process. However, the real value of these certifications is only there, when combined with experience gained out of real-life project experience, which – as we all know – is a prerequisite for the PMI-PMP certification. Furthermore additional certifications in new digital technologies, industry knowledge as well as innovation, creativity, empathy and leadership capabilities would be beneficial for a career in project management.

Say, around 5-8 years from now, would the Project Management Office exist? What would happen to Project Management methodologies of today?

Our prediction is that project management offices will still exist over the next 20 years at least. As AI will in the near to mid future only assist the PMO, their tasks will shift and what is manual work today, will be partly automated. PMO will shift its focus from information gathering, monitoring and distributing to a more data driven environment with capabilities in data analysis and prediction of the project progress, as well as risk management and mitigation.

As a final question, could you please share your valuable advice on the latest skills needed for a Project Manager to stay "in-tune" with the Organizations' strategy?

As said before, basic skills and real life experience in project management will be the foundation of today’s and future Project Managers. That will remain! However to stay “in-tune” with the Organization’s strategy no matter what the future holds, I believe there are some universal ingredients you need to explore, adapt and apply to stay relevant:

  • Make decisions based on purpose and value: Build a future-looking understanding of how project managers and new digital technologies might collaborate to deliver your corporate purpose. Furthermore, create an open and transparent narrative on how you are influencing, planning and delivering on the future of the project management work – individually and for your organization.
  • Embrace technology as a force for good: Clarify how digital technologies can enable the redesign of your project management work, enhance productivity and customer experience, and enable a focus on more value-added tasks. Additionally, use sophisticated planning and predictive analytics tool to increase accuracy in your project plans and resource allocations in each of the four worlds you may be in.
  • Focus on the humans and the humane: Understand the skills you have in your project teams now (not just the roles your team members currently perform) and the gaps to the skills you will need in the future. Think beyond simplistic concepts like ‘we need more soft skills in our project’. Strengthen innovation, creativity, empathy and leadership capabilities in your project alongside critical technology skills.

Behind the Scenes: Website Administration at the PMI Switzerland Chapter

Author: Eric Jelenje, PMP

Eric Jelenje

Information is Power, so the old adage goes.

The PMI Switzerland Chapter website is a vital source of information and creates opportunities for members and non-members across and beyond Switzerland, and critical to the Chapter’s communications and stakeholder engagement efforts.

An extension to the Chapter Website is the 2022 PM Conference website, through which users can access speaker profiles, the conference agenda and information about registering for the Conference. Keeping both websites functional is a mammoth effort that demands commitment, technological savviness, and a lot of behind-the-scenes work that we rarely get to see.

I caught up with the Website Team of Philippe Soupart and Danh Nguyen to get their perspectives on the challenges of website administration in the modern age, their experiences as volunteers, and, moving forward, what’s in store for users of both websites. 

 

1.    Philippe and Danh, it is a pleasure to speak to you. Tell us about your respective backgrounds and your work as PMI Switzerland Chapter Volunteers.

Phil: I am a Telecom expert. I passed my PMP in 2015 and joined the Chapter in the Technology group a few months after becoming a member and participating in some events. I started by helping people with the new Email service for the volunteers and took more responsibility, eventually becoming VP Operations. 

Now I am in charge of three teams (PMO, Office and Technology) but as I started administering the website from day 1 of the new design, I continue to work a lot on it. 

Danh: I’m a Mechanical Engineer but I have always had an interest in IT. I joined the PMI Switzerland Chapter many years ago, but in various different guises. I first volunteered on the Zurich Events team and have, for the past three years, supported the organising of the PM Conference. Currently, managing the PM Conference website is my main focus.

  

2.    You have highlighted your website management responsibilities. What is a typical day like for you?

Phil: My day has no fixed time. I’m working nearly all the time in front of two big 32” screens and I can switch easily from my main work to the PMI environment. As my work is flexible and the switch can be done in a second, I can answer a Slack or Email message quickly and go back to my work. It is a great advantage for PMI but also for my employer as it goes in both directions. 

Danh: A typical day is my job! As a volunteer, I have been mainly dedicating some time in the evenings when I have availability to tend to the website. The needs are driven by various stakeholders related to the PM Conference so a lot of the work is during the initialisation and startup phases leading up to the conference, to make all the necessary information available to prospective attendees. As the PM Conference is quite an important event in the PMI Switzerland chapter calendar, it has its own “website” within the PMI Switzerland website

 

3.    For how long has the Chapter website been operational? How has the website itself evolved to what it is now?

Phil: When I joined PMI, the website had articles but not every possible feature was exploited. 

We have worked on a component to present our events in a nicer way, with actions such as registrations, reminders and certificate issuances done automatically.
Then we upgraded the Event notifications service and the Newsletter system. The strategy is to have components doing the work on our website platform to centralize the information, to protect, and to use automation to minimize the work. An example is the automated email facility for welcoming new members.

Last year we implemented the payment by credit card and, lately, we refreshed the Job Opportunity notification service.
I am proud that, as PMI Switzerland, we are one of the chapters with the greatest amount of services and features for users on our website. 

 

4.    Cybersecurity and content management are some of the most commonly-cited challenges with managing a website. What are the challenges you experience as a team and how have you dealt with them?

Phil: Cybersecurity is one of the biggest topics of the last two years for every company and PMI Switzerland is also following the trend. The Operations department is following our new projects and implementations to ensure that we do everything to protect our data. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is one of the challenges but we have to be vigilant on every threat and it is a daily work to monitor, correct and patch the systems we have. 

Danh: Since the PM Conference site resides within the PMI Switzerland website, all the policies, implementation and rules are inherited from the main website. This means that fortunately for me, as long as the main website is robust, the PM Conference site is also robust! 

 

5.    The COVID-19 pandemic heralded a greater reliance on virtual working and collaboration. How has the pandemic impacted your work as a team and with others?

Phil: For the Technology, PMO and Office teams, we were not impacted as we were already used to working exclusively online. We had some additional work to acquire Zoom licenses for our events online and it took some time for users to familiarise themselves with using the platform; “You are on mute” was the sentence we were sure to hear multiple times during a meeting!

Danh: The first PM conference I supported was very challenging. Not only did the conference itself get canceled, reinstated, and then postponed, we had to navigate the constantly changing pandemic landscape. Fortunately, the online conferencing, collaboration and other tools we use helped ensure that our work was not too heavily impacted. We had to adapt of course, but were still able to deliver a very successful conference.  

 

6.    The World Wide Web has grown exponentially since its inception 40 years ago. As user numbers skyrocket and technologies advance, how do you see the Chapter website in the short to long-term?

Phil: For the next few years I do not see a lot of changes. With the global trend towards a greater use of mobile phones for accessing online content, our website was designed to be ready to be mobile-friendly. Currently, 29% of our website serves mobiles. 

In the long term we see some changes on the way people will connect to the website as I expect PMI members to be able to roam to other chapters at no additional costs. Maybe this is a dream, but anything is possible!  

 

7.    The 2022 PMI Switzerland Project Management Conference’s central theme is Innovation in Project Management. What innovations on both websites can users expect to see in the coming months and beyond?

Danh: We are consistently trying to improve the user experience, whether it’s for the main Chapter website or the Conference website. Phil has been doing excellent work in this area, trying to make sure we have the tools available to deliver the information the user seeks in the most effective way. As Phil already mentioned, there is a natural shift away from browsing websites on a traditional computer which we need to accommodate. A lot of the innovation really happens on the back end to make this happen. 

Phil: Beside the technology, a lot of time is and will be spent verifying the consistency of the information displayed on the website, given by Email and propagated on social media. In the coming months, we will try to ease the discount proposition for students and unemployed members. 

We are working on added functionality for the Events List page, including an event search filter. We will also display the courses run by certification Training partners.

 

Special thanks to Phil and Danh for their volunteer work for PMI Switzerland Chapter and for sharing their thoughts and insights with us.

Philippe Soupart and Danh Nguyen

Youth and Social Impact

Author: Benoîte Grisouard, PMP

Benoite Grisouard Photo 100x100

 resolutions

Change begins with a step.

As environmental challenges rise, global energy markets grow and change rapidly and there is a strong need for sustainability strategies supported by the new generation, rapidly evolving in new trends, technologies, regulations, and finances. Our long-term prosperity and success hinge on integrating sustainability into our strategic planning and decision-making, and determining the synergies between performance and impact on society, the economy and our environment.

 

Cooperation is necessary to enact change.

The last few years we have developed a battery of collaborations to increase project management skills diffusion; to encourage and support youth and social impact. We empower youth with the understanding, knowledge and tools to build and implement an effective sustainability strategy incorporating project management skills to their daily lives. We magnify the power of nonprofits and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in delivering their missions through the knowledge and application of project management, by facilitating no-cost workshops. 

Develop a personal plan for what you can do.

Project management is a key catalyst to solve issues, integrating sustainability into decisions and value creation.  Project coordinators, managers and leaders use their skills and their ability to affect change to tackle these issues across public, private, and nonprofit sectors. It means creating purpose-driven projects that generate value shared by all stakeholders. And it revolves around the fundamental importance of people: improve the lives of the people within their reach.

Get involved.

Learn how you can join us in our mission to inspire youth and use project management for social good