Panchalee Thakur

PMI India Project Management Regional Conference in Thiruvananthapuram brings together experts from various sectors to deliberate on the role of a project manager during transformation

As an organization prepares itself for digital transformation, it increasingly relies on its project managers to take it to the next level. How well a project manager fits into this new role depends on the capabilities she or he brings to the job. This was the focus of the PMI India Project Management Regional Conference in Thiruvananthapuram on 27 April.

The conference theme, Transformation Made Possible by a Project Manager, aptly captured the greater relevance of practitioners in today’s business environment. The theme goes well with the leitmotif of PMI’s 50th anniversary celebration — a yearlong dedication to the project manager.

Hosted by PMI Kerala Chapter, it was the fifth regional conference held in India. Over 300 practitioners from diverse industries attended the one-day event.

Twelve distinguished speakers from different fields touched on various aspects of transformation through keynote addresses and "lightning talks," which were 15-minute sessions.

In his opening keynote, S. Somanath, scientist and director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Indian Space Research Organisation, spoke about the role of leaders in inspiring people to drive an organization to the next frontier. Dr. Saji Gopinath, CEO of Kerala Startup Mission, gave a special felicitation address.

The morning session saw a host of speakers sharing their thoughts: Dr. M. R. Rajagopal, Padma Shri awardee and founder-chairman, Pallium India, spoke about the need for ordinary citizens to lend a hand to transform healthcare in India. Sohan Roy, film director and CEO and founder, Aries Group of Companies, appealed to project managers to improve their efficiency quotient. Tejas Sura, member, PMI Board of Directors, urged practitioners to develop curiosity, technology expertise, and future-ready skills to help transform ideas into reality. Tathagat Varma, author and country head, NerdWallet, provided the lowdown on why transformations fail.

In the afternoon session, Val Grey, behavioral expert and coach, demonstrated through a workshop how humans are fallible and need each other. Nanda Kishore, vice president and global delivery head, Wipro Technologies, spoke about the importance of fast product releases in today’s market and the need for project managers to develop digital skills.

In her lightning talk, Anita Peter, actor, dancer, and founder of performing arts center Lasya Drutha, drew parallels between people transformation and chrysalis, a stage in the transformation of a larva into a butterfly. Subramanian Narayanan, head — program management, Hella, said project managers must come forward and accept accountability of projects. Commander S. Sanooj, Southern Naval Command, Indian Navy, elaborated on the project management that went into the relief operations after the devastating floods in Kerala in August 2018. Mr. Preeth Azhikode brought in an element of entertainment with his awe-inspiring mentalism acts. Tiffany Brar, social activist and founder of Jyothirgamaya Mobile Blind School, highlighted the importance of adopting an inclusive policy toward the visually impaired so that they can contribute to their potential. Prakash Ramachandran, chief technology officer, Byju’s, spoke about creating opportunities out of chaos.

Fifteen long-standing members of PMI Kerala Chapter had been selected for special recognition, of which four members were able to make it to the conference. These members have been with the chapter for eight years or more on a continuous basis. Besides that, as many as 36 chapter volunteers, who planned and executed the conference, received tokens of appreciation from PMI.