My name is Pam Hearne and I am what is sometimes labelled an accidental Project Manager. I worked in a number of sectors private, public including the NHS and local authorities and for a national charity becoming a PM by being recruited or applying for posts with that label because of the specific project rather than making a conscious decision to choose a career in PM. When you do that and the project is successful then you tend to find you are approached to do more.
I currently lead the Level 6 Project Leadership and Dissertation modules plus teach on other Personal and Professional development modules. I also work with degree apprentices as their reviewer and personal tutor. I think the thing that inspires me most about my role is being able to work with students to harness their own experience to make sense of the academic material and offering the theories/models and tools that can help make sense of their experience. Plus seeing students achieve more than they initially thought they could is rewarding. I like the dissertation or work-based project element of the degree because it is so individual and the student can tailor it to their own interests deciding what they want to know more about or influence in their own organisation or professional practice.
I think that the appeal of Project Management as a degree is that it is an applied subject that as well as offering a good career can make a real difference in the world including in our personal lives. In recent years I have been part of a cohousing project where we build both 41 houses and a community of people who live there. The PM skills I had developed in my work roles helped us to bring it in on time, under budget and to a standard that won 5 national and regional awards whilst using collaborative decision making.
At The University of Cumbria, we have built a suite of qualifications that are well linked to industry through our students, staff and graduates as well as the employers we work with and the APM. This means that we can use that experience to make the course interesting and relevant whether you are a new PM apprentice or a more experienced practitioner who wants to get a qualification to progress your career.
To be successful in the PM profession I think you need a mixture of technical knowledge and people skills which we develop through our personal/professional development modules. Whilst projects do need to be planned and controlled and it is important to know how to do that they do not happen in isolation and if you cannot get the team to work with you and manage the sometimes challenging stakeholders then you are probably not going to get far.
The APM has recently published a report on its Golden Thread research which shows that PM makes “ .. a significant contribution to the UK economy, with approximately 2.13 million FTEs employed in the UK project management sector and the profession generating £156.5bn of annual GVA. This represents 7.9 per cent of UK employment (FTEs) and 8.9 per cent of UK GVA.” It has expanded beyond the traditional construction, aerospace/defence and transport projects into diverse areas such as health, charities and SMEs with projects in these 3 areas being worth £104 billion. This brings real opportunities for a professional PM but also challenges the profession’s traditional ways of thinking to adapt to the needs of these new sectors. I think that the University of Cumbria course and the chance to interact with students/staff from different backgrounds brings richness to the discussion.