Panel Discussion
Girish Kadam and Lt-Col-L.-Shri-Harsha

PMI Leaders Shed Light on New Challenges and Opportunities Across Regions

For the first time in the history of PMI, the Common Ground Symposium brought all the eight regional managing directors of PMI together for a dialogue. It was a lively discussion, hosted by Region 11 mentor Girish Kadam (extreme left) and conference chair Lt. Col L. Shri Harsha (retd).


Here is an excerpt of the discussion

How are challenges of growth and development being managed in your region?
Otema Yirenkyi: ‘Youthquake’ is a phenomenon that is taking place in Africa, which means the median age in African countries is 17. Our biggest opportunity lies in youth. Bite-sized knowledge and micro certifications are very attractive to that population. It enables them to quickly build capabilities, and become market-ready. We are doubling down on this as this is a gateway for the youth to build their project capabilities.

How is organization agility helping businesses in China during these challenging times?
Bob (Yong Tao) Chen: Businesses in China have found ways to adapt with agility. Look at Shanghai Fashion Week; it was changed to an online format in partnership with Alibaba to have their designs on sale immediately on the e-commerce platform.

There are new ways of learning today – bitesized, on-demand, or ‘my ways’ of learning. How are these methods being leveraged in Europe to enhance competencies?
Ashwini Bakshi: We are in dialogue with a number of organizations in Europe which are grappling with this question. With the pandemic, the whole domain of higher education is transforming. Many individuals will not be able to go to college for a degree. Organizations will be turning to functional and goal-oriented education. It means companies and individuals need to look at alternative methods. Low-code/ no-code and micro certifications are great examples. Individuals will need to invest in their own learning.

The Middle East has generally been insulated from global turbulences. Do good project management practices have a role in maintaining stability?
Grace Najjar: Countries in the Middle East have been a part of the Project Economy since 1960, delivering successful projects with captivating speed. Human capabilities, building transformation leaders, and technology enablement are the assets of the future. COVID-19 has accelerated digital transformation. In the UAE, since the country’s leadership has invested in smart learning programs, they could move 1.2 million schoolchildren online in a day.

Your region is a prominent hub of technological advances. Will it make human resources redundant? Or will individual competencies continue to be in demand?
Ben Breen: Individual competencies are even more important now, and people need to gain new skills to remain relevant. PMI’s Pulse of the Profession survey this year showed that organizations that have pivoted well have three key skills – ‘ability is agility’, ‘technology rules but people influence,’ and ‘it’s a project leaders’ world.’ Organizations need people with what PMI calls ‘power skills’, and the right mindset. And PMI is helping them acquire those skills.

Organization agility has become a mantra now. What is its importance in North America and what are your top three things suggestions for organizations?
Brantlee Underhill: Organization agility is necessary, and 2020 has forced companies to move quickly toward it. Business leaders know that agility is impacted by executive sponsorship, organization culture, and understanding the impact of change. Three tips for organizations to build agility are: define your ‘why’ – the strategic vision, purpose and values; invest in career development for your employees – focus on your technology quotient; and create your own wellness meter - for yourself and your employees.

Organizational agility is helping companies recover fast. How is it working in Latin America?
Ricardo Triana: Agility is not just about implementing agile. It goes beyond frameworks; it needs a change in the organizational culture. It means you need to reskill your people. There is an opportunity for us to pick those organizations, and share those experiences. We also have an opportunity to show how organizational agility works – the ways of working, power skills, and business acumen. We need to convey these messages to show how project management is so important now.

How do the insights from other regions pan out in the Indian context? Any insights that will help manage the new reality more efficiently?
Srini Srinivasan: Region 11 has recognized the value and importance of micro-certifications in order to develop individual competency. Upskilling and reskilling, youth outreach, organizational agility through Disciplined Agile™, and physical and emotional wellbeing of employees are some of the key areas of focus.