Chapter Communications Blog

COVID-19 impact on 10th PMI Switzerland Conference Organization


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

Agnieszka Skalska, PMP®, SAFe® RTE


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, having held had various volunteer roles, such as event and conference organizer, board member, and Chapter president. Besides organizing the Conference, he currently manages the organization network of the Chapter


 Agnieszka Skalska square

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 following the fundamental values of integrity, innovation, and collaboration. Growth Mindset.



COVID-19 has had an impact on almost all aspects of life. In March 2020, the virus had spread to over 100 countries, forcing the World Health Organization to declare a global pandemic. Unprecedented lockdowns, strict travel bans and “social distancing” measures shortly followed. Naturally, one of the worst affected by the pandemic was the events industry(1). COVID-19 had a huge impact on the organization of the 10th PMI Switzerland Conference. From one day to the next, we had to make difficult decisions, consider different scenarios, and finally stop the event preparations. Now, one year later, we mobilized the team again and hope that on 29th September 2021 we will be able to meet again in person and share our knowledge and experience.

Martin Härri and Agnieszka Skalska, Project Managers of the 10th PMI Switzerland Conference exchange their views on the challenges they had to face and share some tips on how to keep a highly motivated virtual team of volunteers together. We hope that you will enjoy reading what they have to say.   



Martin: Agnieszka, as a member of the PMI Switzerland Chapter Board, how do you feel now that we can finally announce that we will have another Swiss PM Conference this year?

Agnieszka: Relief…. We have put so much effort in 2020 to mobilize a team, to create a promotion strategy and to reach out potential speakers, that if we had to announce to the team once again that the event is on hold, it would be devastating for me. There is a significant difference between leading a team of volunteers in a non-profit organization and leading a team in your `paid job`. The motivators are completely different. Unlocking people’s intrinsic motivation is a key. We volunteer because we love to create new things, test our ideas, and we have a natural need to feel achievement. Without these `soft motivators` it would be extremely difficult to keep the team together for another year.


Agnieszka: And you, Martin, having organized several conferences before, what is your feeling?

Martin: It was very frustrating to first cancel the planned date in the fall of 2020, and then postpone the date several times. So now I am incredibly happy that all the effort that went into the preparation of the conference is now finally paying off. You know, I was surprised myself about the success we had in 2019. The spirit at this conference was amazing. It was an immensely proud contribution of Switzerland to PMIs’ 50th anniversary. And now we can repeat that success, and hopefully even surpass it.


Martin: But Agnieszka, tell me, what was the hardest thing for you during this time?

Agnieszka: I think re-doing the business case repeatedly to check if new conference scenarios are profitable. We considered many of them; full audience scenario, limited audience scenario, virtual event, hybrid event, face to face event with the webcast and many more variants. We wanted to organize the event for Project Managers at all costs. Every time the Federal Council announced new regulations, we were looking into the Business Case and checked their impact on the cost vs income. I think that now, after creating ca. 20 versions of Business Cases, I am a proper Business Case expert and cost cutting strategist (Agnieszka is laughing). 


Agnieszka: And what was the hardest part for you?

Martin: I made it my mission to keep the team together. We had an excellent, though relatively small team in 2019. Some team members stayed for 2020 and we managed to find a good number of additional members, so the new team was larger. I felt it was a good size and we developed a good team spirit. I did not want to lose them, so I continued organizing monthly calls where we discussed when we might finally be able to have the next conference, but mostly we talked about private things. I am enormously proud to say that we managed to keep the team together. Only one person left due to professional reasons, but she was so motivated that she organized a replacement from her company. And now we are all super-excited that we can continue!


Martin: Agnieszka, what do you think, could we have organized the conference as an online version instead?

Agnieszka: It was one of the options that we were considering. In the end we decided that this form is not attractive for our audience because of the limited interactions and networking possibilities with such a format. Moreover, studies have shown that attendees have a short attention span for online events, so running a full day virtual event wasn’t appealing. As a Chapter, we are also gaining an experience in running virtual events and the technology risk was deemed to be at an unacceptable level. I normally say `never say never`, which is why I am convinced that the future of events lies in hybrid events. Events that combine a "live" in-person event with a "virtual" online component.


Agnieszka: Martin, do you think that the Covid situation will have an impact on the conference?

Martin: Well, luckily now the allowed number of participants at such events has been increased, so we are aiming again at about 200 people. Maybe we will have to take some precautionary measures, but with the SIX ConventionPoint, we have an experienced partner so I have no doubt that we will meet all obligations.


Martin: But let us talk about the topics of the conference: do you think that the pandemic has an impact here?

Agnieszka: Of course! Our business problems have changed over last year. We have learned to work in virtual teams, and we all started to work at home. The world has sped up the digitalization processes and we can notice a downward trend for business travel. Now everyone is asking one question: How the future of our work will look like after the pandemic? I would say join us at the 10th PMI Switzerland Conference on 29th September 2021 and get some Expertise for Changing Times. Meet many inspirational speakers and exchange views with other participants. Hurry up! We only have a limited number of tickets available for sale!



Editorial PMI Switzerland Newsletter July 2021

Author : Geetanjali Bhat, PMP

Warmth and freshness in the air can be seen all over the country bringing in the positivity around us. Amidst clear skies, greenery and of course speedy vaccination drives all around us with the country, slowly restoring the season of hope and faith.

As we are gearing up to come out of the pandemic successfully, we are also preparing to learn more, through latest subject expertise that is highly in demand from our PMI community.

As I mentioned in my previous editorials about the exciting events with latest subject’s expertise, like Disciplined Agile Certification courses through sessions and online live workshops, there has been recent additions too. There has been lots happening around our world from last year. For our wellbeing and happiness, workshop on work life balance and many more are planned for all of us. Watch this space for more updates!

As we are in the 21st year of PMI Switzerland, despite continued restricted access outside world, we from PMI community are continuously learning, innovating new ideas and sharing with the world. Let’s continue to discuss and network more through our virtual coffee meets. Let us all make this pandemic into a positive path to learn and grow more.

I would like to thank PMI Switzerland community for creating innovative events and surprises that we continue to learn and inspire each of us in the community.

I wish every member of PMI community, healthy and safe days ahead. Let’s all think positive and keep learning and motivating each other in our PMI community.



Editorial PMI Switzerland Newsletter June 2021

Author: Shalini Krishnan, PMP

Shalini Krishnan

Dear Members and Newsletter Subscribers,

And just like that we are almost halfway through 2021! 

In case you're feeling like me and have noticed that while the days are getting longer there seem to be less hours in them, I'll keep this short and sweet and share with you a few of the exciting articles we have for you this month:

- Feedback on the PMI-DASSM certification training

- Why Project Managers Should Become Better Visual Storytellers


Make sure to also check out the details of our upcoming events:

- Stakeholder and Team Management (June 15)

- Hermes - Your ticket to winning a public tender (June 22)

- Number 1 bestselling project management author of The Lazy Project Manager's take on Why Stakeholders Regulary Ignore Your Project Reports and How to Fix That (July 1)


Stay safe, and stay agile :)

Feedback on the PMI-DASSM certification training

Author: Martin Härri, PMP, PMI-SP, PMI-ACP, SA


I just had 2 intense days of training for the PMI-DASSM certification with Daniel Gagnon. The training was excellent, and I am taking this as an opportunity to recommend to my network to have a closer look at Disciplined Agile. And for dramatical purposes I am exaggerating my statements a bit – but just a little bit. 😊


2 thoughts:

  • If you are a practitioner interested in taking a Scrum Master exam, and are not sure if you should take it from any of the usual providers, such as or SAFe, then here’s an analogy: if you take this training from the usual providers you will be like a cook that has learned to cook a great meal (and I really mean that it can be great). But you need the kitchen and the ingredients as per recipe. If you take the training from Disciplined Agile you will be able to create a great meal. You will learn about the types of ingredients, including alternatives (!), about different ways to prepare, cook, and present them, and you will be able to cook it in a kitchen with a wood-fired stove and copper pots, and in a kitchen with high-tech food processing equipment. As per DA principle #5: “Choice is good”. But be warned: the cooking instructions do not fit on the back of a food package, it’s a big book, so plan enough time for the training!


  • And if you are a line manager thinking about sending a team member to a training, consider this: if you send them to one of the usual trainings they might come back as what I call “Agile Taliban”. They will see it as part of their mission to “protect the team from the outside”, which means “team = good, company = bad”. And to come back to the cooking analogy from above: you might have to redesign the kitchen, and spend a lot of money on what they perceive as “the right ingredients”. However, the mindset of DA is a more company-friendly, as DA Principle #8 is “Enterprise awareness”. Which means the Scrum Master has the role of maintaining a bridge between the company and the team. “Team = good, company = good”.


I hope you liked my analogy. For more information, check out the Disciplined Agile website.


Addendum: the standard book on DA is Choose your WoW!, which, by the way, PMI members can get a free electronic copy of. But I do not recommend to start with this one, as it is about as exciting as reading the PMBOK Guide. It is very valuable for learning, and as a reference, but as an introduction into the topic I rather recommend Introduction to Disciplined Agile Delivery: A Small Agile Team’s Journey from Scrum to Disciplined DevOps. It is the (fictional, but very realistic) story of a software development team which started with Scrum, but then by applying many of the DA principles, evolved their WoW over several iterations. That makes the whole idea of DA much more clear, and wets your appetite for then reading Choose your WoW! About 13$ for the eBook.

Peter Taylor discusses ‘Why Stakeholders Regularly Ignore Your Project Reports and How to Fix That’

Author: Peter Taylor

Peter Taylor NL

Hello PMI Switzerland from The Lazy Project Manager,

  • The #1 way to improve the success probability of your project is to nail stakeholder buy-in - but how do you do that?
  • The #1 way to nail stakeholder buy-in is to give them uncomplicated visual project updates so they actually understand your project - but how do you do that? 

Hello to all of my good friends in the PMI Switzerland chapter (I can’t believe that it has been 15 months since I was last with you, and in fact, my visit to Geneva was my very last trip anywhere!). 

Crazy times indeed.

But I will be with you, remotely at least, on 1st July 2021 and talking all about project reporting and executive stakeholders, and I would really love you all to join me:


The Project Reporting Challenge

When I was leading some very substantial PMOs, global in nature, hundreds of project managers around the world, leading 1,000s of projects on an annual basis, we had this fundamental issue of effectively communicating to a whole range of different stakeholders, but particularly to the executives inside the organisation. All of my project managers were incredibly busy and yet they all had the challenge of how to represent the key aspects of their projects to the business executives, who in turn were busy people who did not have a lot of time and who were overseeing many, many projects at any given time.

Join me

Learn how we overcame this and join me in sharing your thoughts, challenges, and inspirations when it comes to ‘project reporting’ through an interactive presentation. All delivered in my usual fun but insightful way of course.

Book your place today:


About the Author:

Peter Taylor: Speaker, Consultant, Trainer and Coach, Peter is the author of the number 1 bestselling project management book ‘The Lazy Project Manager’. He has built and led some of the largest PMOs in the world with organisations such as Siemens, IBM, and Kronos. In 2020 he was awarded the PMO Global Alliance ‘PMO Influencer of the Year Award’. Visit him here: