Conference Overview
Potshangbam July

New Strategies to Thrive in Uncertain Times

The unprecedented times set off by the COVID-19 pandemic have compelled organizations to put new systems and processes in place and project professionals to find new ways of working.

A question that is on everybody’s mind and has no definite answer is: what’s next? To thrive in the new normal where nothing is certain, organizations and project leaders need to get comfortable operating in an ever-changing business environment. It calls for a relook at existing operating models and work practices to drive organizational agility and flexibility, which are perquisites in the current scenario.

Today’s changed project environment formed the backdrop for discussions at the two-day virtual summit, ‘Project Management South Asia Virtual Conference 2021.’ Hosted by the PMI Bangalore Chapter, the conference, held on 10-11 December, brought together leaders, practitioners, and startup founders from India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. As many as 600 practitioners from various countries attended the conference and took away insights, new perspectives, and practical advice on how to navigate the challenges.

Focused on the theme, ‘Project Management: Embracing the New Normal,’ the conference featured six keynotes, four parallel tracks, a panel discussion, networking sessions, and the annual project awards presentation. Globally renowned business leaders and experts from various industry sectors shared their diverse viewpoints on defining the new normal, and the best practices to make it work in the ‘never-normal’ era.

Dr. Srini Srinivasan, regional managing director, PMI South Asia, set the context of the conference and announced the launch of Career Connect, a job portal supported by PMI South Asia. “The annual conference celebrates professionals in project management. This year, some of the top minds from across the industry and functional sectors are speaking at the conference. The focus is on enabling change-makers like you to position yourself for a leadership role in your career,” he said. Talking about the free job platform, he said it was a humble way for PMI to give back to the profession during these difficult times.

Ramkumar Narayanan, vice president technology, and managing director, VMware India, kicked off the conference with a keynote in which he stirred up thoughts with the quote, ’never waste a crisis.’ He spoke about opportunities for change created by the pandemic, and the need to create a resilient organization that can thrive in adverse times.

Col. Anand Swaroop (Retd.) of the Indian Army outlined how the new normal calls for a new paradigm of leadership to deal with unexpected circumstances.

Alok Nanda, CEO, GE India Technology Centre and CTO, GE South Asia, highlighted that India can become self-reliant if it strengthens its manufacturing and R&D capabilities, and reduces dependence on other countries for high-tech weapons.

Padma Parthasarathy, senior vice president - Consulting and Digital Services at Tech Mahindra, explained the characteristics of conscious enterprise and its effectiveness in navigating uncertainty in an organization.

The second day of the conference saw the launch of the PMI Bangalore Chapter website as part of their ongoing efforts to create a better experience for users.

Prithvi Shergill, co-founder, Smarten Spaces, spoke about how the ‘enterprise of tomorrow’ can sustain exceptional performance in the ‘never-normal’ era.

This was followed by an engaging panel discussion on the theme, ‘Bharat Startups: Exploring the Unexplored.’ Hosted by Palash Gupta, vice president, Professional Development, PMI Bangalore Chapter, it featured young entrepreneurs from four deep tech startups. It brought into focus the use of innovative technologies and a problem-solving mindset that are responsible for some great business ideas that are creating social impact in the country.

At the closing keynote, David Hillson, who calls himself a ‘risk doctor’, spoke about the concept of black swan and the importance of building flexibility and resilience as a coping mechanism in an unexpected situation.

The winners of the PMI South Asia Project of the Year awards were honored during the conference. On the first day, winners in three categories were announced: Avtar Human Capital Trust in NGO category, Tata Projects Ltd in Contribution to the Community, and State Bank of India in the Micro Project category. On the second day, awards were given to RITES Limited, Larsen & Toubro Limited, and Infosys in the Small Project, Medium Project and Large Project category, respectively.

The virtual conference allowed delegates to e-network with business leaders, explore the sponsor stalls, interact live with speakers through Q&As, and seek expert advice. The mega event was sponsored by Intuit, i2e Consulting, and Zoho Projects.