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Practitioners Converge on Hyderabad for PMI India National Conference 2014
BY PANCHALEE THAKUR

Mr. S. Ramanathan, advisor, Vanenburg Group; Mr. Ravi Vurakaranam, conference director; Mr. Srinivas Kopparapu, conference chairperson; Mr Raj Kalady, managing director, PMI India; Mr. Craig Killough, vice president, PMI Organization Markets; and Mr. Ricardo Triana, director, Chair 2014 PMI Board of Directors; and Mr. A. S. Murthy, CTO, Tech Mahindra at the inuaguration ceremony

As India prepares to change gear and embark on a state of swift action as envisaged by the new government, it needs to stay focused on long-term development and not mere short-term measures for populist reasons. To attain Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s promise of “achche din” (good days), the mantra must be sustainable growth. PMI India’s Project Management National Conference 2014 used “Project Management – the Mantra for Sustainable Growth” as a timely theme to discuss how project management can provide the country the competence it needs to plan and execute projects well.

The sixth annual conference, organized by PMI Pearl City Chapter, took place on 11-13 September 2014 at the Hyderabad International Convention Center. Delegates from around the country attended the much awaited event to gain knowledge and insights on project management from the experts, share their experience, and network with peers and seniors.

While keynotes by PMI leaders, industry experts, and senior government officials added to delegates’ knowledge bank, talks by a spiritual leader, a theater personality, and a cricket star provoked thought and ideas on life skills improvement. There were project management lessons to learn not just from the experience of others but also in the stories of wit and wisdom from ancient times that many of the speakers recounted.

The coveted PMI India Project of the Year awards were presented during the conference. These annual awards recognize and honor organizations for their outstanding project management practices. Larsen & Toubro won the Project of the Year in the large category, whereas Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. won in the medium category, and National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) Ltd. won in the small category. The Evangelical Fellowship of India Commission on Relief was adjudged the winner of the Project of the Year - NGO award and NTPC picked up its second award – the Project of the Year in the contribution to the community category.

Each year, the conference host chapter enhances the experience of delegates by adding a new touch to an existing conference feature. This year, besides the knowledge sessions in a wide range of formats, the hosts had created new opportunities for delegates to network and some exciting ways to take back memories of the conference.


Gathering at Project Management National Conference 2014, PMI India

Quiz
With a livewire quizmaster testing contestants and the audience on project management trivia and cryptic anagrams, and a “practical round” in which contestants tried their project management skills to build a tower with spaghetti and paper cups, the much awaited quiz made for an entertainment and action-packed evening.

Held on the last day of the conference, the quiz saw four three-member teams battle it out for the numero uno position. Team Rockers, comprising Mr. Kshitij Srivastava, Mr. Maruti Penubothu, and Mr. Sanjib Das, won the contest; the prize was a Samsung tablet each.

Contestants were selected on the basis of their scores on a preliminary round conducted via the mobile app. Overall, 200-plus delegates participated and more than 800 responses were received on the app.

Quizmaster and former Chennai chapter president, Mr. Karthik Ramamurthy, and PMI volunteers, Mr. Uday Kiran and Mr. Koushik Srinivasan, designed and executed the selection process. Mr. Ramamurthy said, “Questions posed through the app included some visuals to ensure finalists were those with knowledge rather than just Googling skills! To recognize speed and knowledge, earliest responses were given more weightage. Finalists were chosen based both on total weighted points as well as maximum questions answered.” In all, 12 finalists and six standbys were picked.

Mr. Ramamurthy designed the quiz with help from board members of PMI chapters in India. The quizzing team included Mr. Koushik Srinivasan as the score keeper, Mr. Sriram Raghavan as the timekeeper, and Mr. Rajasekhar Ravichandra as the evaluator for the practical round.
Mobile App
A conference mobile app was used as a successful delegate engagement platform in last year’s PMI India national conference. This year also, many delegates downloaded the mobile app. Rolled out to aid pre-event branding, facilitate networking among delegates well before the event, and organize paperless contests, the app was easily one of the talked about innovations at the conference.

Delegates used the app to post photos to participate in the “selfie contest”, besides using it for the quiz, posting questions to speakers, and providing conference feedback. They could view speaker profiles, mark the sessions they planned to attend, and take notes on each session using the app. It also came with a handy map, chat options with other delegates, and receive instant notifications on the conference.

Photo Booth
What India Gate is to New Delhi, Gateway of India is to Mumbai, Charminar is to Hyderabad. A larger than life poster of this stunning 16th century edifice made a befitting backdrop for the photo booth at the conference.

“The idea behind the photo booth is to give each delegate a personalized gift as a reminder of the event,” said Mr. Ravi Vurakaranam, conference director. And sure enough, it was a star attraction as delegates made a beeline during each break. Almost every delegate availed of the photo booth coupon.

Adding to the novelty of the photo booth were lifesize cup and spoon shaped placards, reminiscent of Hyderabad’s famous Irani chai, bearing pithy messages that any project manager would relate to. Here are some placards one could choose from: “Manage projects without spoonfeeding”, “There’s always a storm in the project manager’s teacup”, “Dishing out project management best practices”, or “Many a slip between the cup and the lip”.

(With contributions from Renuka Rane)
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