Event date: Wednesday 19th January 2022
The Major Projects Association hosted a thoughtful panel discussion on the skills needed to deliver major projects in the future. It is apparent that many factors are driving the need to consider this issue at present: the speed of technological development and environmental change, the increasingly complex and layered nature of major projects, changes in our social organisation and the way we approach and think about work, to name a few. Though the panel didn’t provide all the answers, a consensus did emerge around the need to have a more robust approach to developing behavioural skills in project leaders.
The panel discussed how our modern world more than ever before, the role of a person in an organisation is to engage with others to deliver impact, elevating the need for hyperconnectivity, empathy, agility, and effective people management. The “land of skills scarcity” in project delivery is expected to persist, and with multiple vacant roles available for every qualified project manager, the most successful projects will be those that are able to manage and apply resources and talent better than others. The panel also considered the deficit in technical skills, especially relating to net zero targets. Achieving our sustainability goals will require huge social changes, both domestically and in the infrastructure we deliver. Major projects of the future should be about delivering in response to what we need, going back to the beginning with a mindset to question the need for the project in the first place.
Some of our key takeaways:
- We have to use a different set of eyes to think about what skills we will need to deliver major projects in the future. The context will re-define a lot of things, as we have all experienced over the last couple of years with the pandemic.
- We can use the need to change as an opportunity to diversify our teams and access greater talent. To do that we need to develop a diversity in ways of working that enables a wider range of people to deliver effectively and consistently.
- The ‘superhero leader’ mindset will not serve us well as we deal with increasing complexity. We must instead leverage the strengths of everyone through collaboration, making room for people to be themselves and do what they do best.
- The challenge around skills is often more about how effectively organisational leaders are able to manage change in society – responding to the complexity and unpredictability of our reality.
Chair: Nathan Baker Chief Executive Institute of Occupational Medicine
- Josie Cluer Partner EY
- Michelle Lambon-Wilks Development Director National College for Nuclear
- Rob Leslie-Carter Director Arup
- Sarah Mukherjee MBE Chief Executive IEMA