Women in Project Management

Now more than ever, there is huge pressure on organisations to change and adapt their strategies due to globalisation, technological change and economic forces. No longer can firms sit back on their laurels with global competition rife. There will be a constant threat from companies that can do what you do cheaper and better. The UK economy faces great challenges and opportunities over the next few years with Brexit and an ageing workforce and so solutions are required in order for organisations and the economy to stay competitive. Project managers will be in the front line trying to maximise these opportunities.

So how do we find the Project Managers that can keep our organisations competitive in this constantly changing business environment? What skills are needed to harmonise the projects of the future with the challenges in the macro environment? And with an ageing workforce, how can UK businesses remain competitive and where will they seek the Project Managers of the future?

Many of these topics were discussed in the recent APM National Conference for Women in Project Management event last week as Baiba Ziga, Project Management Recruitment Consultant, Networkers, explains:

“There was a deep discussion into the future workforce and the opportunities rather than the threats that the situation presents. Many future solutions include upskilling, reskilling as well as the opportunity for part-time workers, job sharing and working from home. It’s not about the hours worked but the quality of the outcome.”

Organisations are realising the positive impact that women in project management can bring to the table and are witnessing the value they can add. Emotional intelligence plays a huge part in the role of a project manager, and women have proven to naturally possess this trait that is necessary to become a fantastic project manager. This has been reflected in the leadership positions in technology for many companies such as; Apple, Linked in and Google, where women make up a larger proportion of leadership roles 28%, 25% and 21% in comparison to specialist technology roles where it is 20%, 17%, 17% respectively (Tech Women UK, 2015).

In fact, the industry has recognised the importance of emotional awareness with new training courses expected in the coming years, Baiba continues,

“There is space for plenty of new courses in Project Management that will open up in the next 10 years and will focus on emotional awareness and intelligence, as currently, widely recognised qualifications such as PRINCE2 do not have any emotional references.”

The emergence of Agile is no coincidence really given its emphasis on iteration rather than linearity, bringing in more of a people focus to the management and evolution of projects. The principles of Agile and Scrum are all around teamwork and learning as we go, and there seems to be little doubt that future frameworks and methodologies will be even more people-centric.

So what else can be done to solve future workforce deficiencies? Well, it is predicted that 15m jobs will be replaced by robots in the next 20 years, and 65% of today’s school children will end up doing jobs not yet invented. There will also be an increase in ‘Gig-jobs’ (concept of Uber) which have exploded onto the market and quoted as ‘unleashing innovation’ for those who are employed in this fashion. It seems that what is a good job now will be very different from a good job in the future. However, utilising the workforce we have now in the most efficient way is sure to pay dividends at this moment in time and for the future.

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