Q. Could you provide some insight into your background and what specifically motivated your interest in project management?
I had just caught up with a long-lost school friend after years of not seeing him, and he suggested I go to uni, aged older than most, to do a degree in project management as, in his words, "they just tell other people what to do". Well, I went to Bournemouth University in 2008 and did my BA Hons in project and operations and learned to a degree. He was right, lol, but also, there was a huge amount more to it. It was where my love for it came from
Q. You have a lot of experience with training and leading project teams. What are some strategies for getting the most out of a team?
My main strategy is to find out what makes my students tick, as in what interests them outside Projects, and then tailor the course using this as the thread; in order to get the most from teams, you need to understand how they learn, and each is different. This I have personal experience as it took me years after leaving school to find out how I learn, and now it has helped me so much.
Q. What are the most important character traits for a leader to have in project management? What separates a great leader from an average one?
The best characteristics of a leader to me are the ability to listen and make the team members feel respected and their ideas wanted. When I ran my one consulting company, I was always amazed by how many companies didn't really need me at all. All they needed to do was ask the people on the shop floor, and they not only knew the issue but how to resolve it. What separates a great leader is the understanding that they don't have to be the cleverest person in the room; in fact, they are always better off not being that person.
Q. Many of our readers are aspiring project managers. What advice would you give them for a successful career in project management?
Do as many courses as you can, learn as much as you can, and then see what works for them. There is no one way; there are many, and the blending of skills and ideas is the thing I have learnt from the great project managers. Always be aware of new ideas and see what you think; never listen to someone who claims to be an expert, as this implies they know it all, and that is not possible. Don't be afraid to learn from your mistakes, as this is where you will learn those lessons that you will never forget.