Project Management Regional Conference 2022
PMI South Asia

Sustainable Project Goals to Drive Holistic Outcomes

Project professionals must look beyond time, budget, and cost considerations, and incorporate sustainability goals in projects.

Despite the global buzz around sustainability, organizations are yet to make sustainable development a core aspect of project management. However, there is a dire need today to integrate sustainability into project management to maximize environmental, social, and economic benefits.

In line with the pressing issues of climate change and the growing incidence of natural disasters around the world, the eighth edition of Project Management Regional Conference 2022 on 21 May chose the theme, “Beyond the Finish Line: Towards Sustainability.” After more than two years of virtual engagements, the hybrid conference organized by PMI Kerala Chapter provided PMI members and volunteers an opportunity to finally meet in person again.

Leaders and practitioners from diverse fields shared insights, networked, and picked new learnings to apply to their work. The conference was attended by about 350 delegates from various countries, some of whom attended in person while others participated remotely.

The conference took off with a welcome note by Jayakishore S. R., conference chair and president, PMI Kerala Chapter. In a video message, Dr. Srini Srinivasan, managing director, PMI South Asia, said, “The theme of this conference is thought provoking and at the same time challenging. It will encourage us to think and expand the whole meaning of project management beyond the template of scope, time, cost, and quality. Sustainability will facilitate performance based on economic as well as social and environmental parameters.”

Umamaheswaran R., distinguished scientist and director at Human Space Flight Centre, ISRO, set the tone of the day with his opening keynote. He spoke about the crucial elements that are needed for sustainable development in space projects and missions.

Jennifer Tharp, chair, PMI Board of Directors, talked about integrating sustainability into project management practices to build a world of net-zero carbon emissions.

After a short networking break, Anand Malligavad, a lake conservationist, presented a session on rejuvenation of dying lakes across Bengaluru.

Sreekanth K. Arimanithaya, Global Delivery Services leader at Ernst & Young Global Delivery Services, shared that ambidextrous leadership fosters continuous innovation in business by resolving opposing or contradictory demands effectively.

The same level of energy and enthusiasm continued into the second half of the day. Toastmasters India conducted a special session on how effective communication plays a critical role in project success. Speakers who shared their insights included Gauri Sheshadri, district toastmaster; Vanitha Rengarajan, director - District 121, Toastmasters India; Kathiravan M. Pethi, leadership coach, storyteller, and speaker; Ayham Bicha, national public speaking champion (Toastmasters Gavel Club); Dileep Choyapalli, toastmaster, and Saveen Hegde, design thinking specialist, founder, and director - Unbox Experience.

This was followed by a session presented by Rich Maltzman, co-founder at EarthPM. He spoke about the need for responsible project management that takes greater accountability for a project’s impact on people, society, and the environment.

In the concluding keynote address, Kiran Bedi, India’s first woman officer of the Indian Police Service, stressed that a fine balance of empathy and confidence is important for leaders to develop regardless of their gender.

Key Elements Facilitating Project Sustainability

Umamaheswaran R. is the director of the Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC), ISRO, Bengaluru. He has been with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for close to 35 years. As scientific secretary of ISRO at ISRO headquarters in Bengaluru and a distinguished scientist, he was responsible for the overall policy, planning, and programs of ISRO.
Mr. Umamaheswaran R. spoke about the crucial elements required for project sustainability. Project managers must be clear about the project vision, expected outcomes, ways to collaborate, and the project structure. They need to ensure a well-defined responsibility matrix and devise effective strategies for efficient resource utilization. He shed light on ISRO’s planned human space mission, ‘Gaganyaan’, which aims to demonstrate the capability to send human spaceflight to low earth orbit.

Key Takeaways:
The sustainability concept in a project should be attainable and realistic
Need to develop technologies to combat habitation challenges in outer space
Adopt collaborative models for accelerated growth and the commercial utilization of outer space activities
Global endeavors in human space flight will foster further collaboration among people, cultures, and societies
Strive to think out-of-the-box to facilitate technological innovation

Powering Project Economy - Building a Net Zero World

Jennifer Tharp is a long-time PMI volunteer, having served as president of the PMI San Francisco Bay Area Chapter. She served on the PMI Board of Directors from 2014–2020 as the audit committee chair and vice chair. As president of Mastodon Consulting, she works closely with boards, counsel, and the executive leadership of large, public companies, and startup technology firms.
A global megatrend like climate change is a serious threat and its impact is intensifying at a rapid pace. Jennifer Tharp cautioned that there is an urgent need to act and focus on regenerative practices to achieve net-zero carbon emissions. She said that project professionals must not restrict their targets to delivering projects on time and within budget. They need to also understand the operational context and the impact of a project on the organization, the environment, and society at large.

Key Takeaways:
Include sustainability practices in every aspect of project processes
A concerted effort of corporations, non-government organizations, and governments is required to effectively address climate crisis
Project managers need to reinvent their approaches consistently and do things differently
Actual plans, and not just bold statements, are needed to achieve net-zero emissions

Reviving Dying Lakes

Anand Malligavad is working toward rejuvenating lakes and reservoirs in Bengaluru in an effort to ease the growing water crisis. He gave up his corporate career to become a full-time lake conservationist, and has revived five lakes through his constant efforts.
Bengaluru has lost many water bodies in the name of urbanization. It has taken a heavy toll on the city, with a deepening water crisis and flash flooding. Recalling what struck him hard, Anand Malligavad said that he read an article that Bengaluru will soon become a zero-water city like Cape Town. It made him cognizant of the seriousness of the situation and the need to conserve the city’s many lakes. He studied extensively to understand the lake ecosystem and decided to take up a lake regeneration initiative. Mr. Malligavad said he is working to revive about 45 lakes by 2025 and train 2,000 to 3,000 people on lake conservation across the country.

Key Takeaways
Strive to work together to create a green planet
Lake conservation helps to prevent floods
Governments, NGOs, and citizens must come together to save lakes
Create awareness of the importance of conserving lakes in cities
Lake rejuvenation should be done in sustainable ways at reduced time and cost

Ambidextrous Leadership/Dual Velocity

Sreekanth K. Arimanithaya leads the Global Talent and Enablement Services for Ernst & Young Global Delivery Services (Argentina, India, Poland, China, the Philippines, and the United Kingdom). He is also part of the GDS Executive Committee and the Global Talent Committee.
The velocity of change or innovation in business has significantly increased in a decade. Sreekanth K. Arimanithaya said that leaders, teams, and organizations are finding it hard to cope with the new challenges today. It raises a question-are the leaders well-equipped to tide over the changes associated with a high-velocity business environment? He recommended developing ambidextrous leadership for greater success. Ambidextrous leaders are capable of creating win-win solutions by resolving conflicts and bipolarities. They adopt an integrative thinking approach for better outcomes.

Key Takeaways
An ambidextrous leader must have a clear and strategic intention
Focus on the fine detail without losing sight of the big picture
Transformative leaders must understand the personal purpose of employees and help to align that with the organizational purpose
Adopt an agile approach to quickly learn and adapt to the organization’s changing circumstances
Ambidextrous leaders simultaneously play multiple roles as diagnostician, team coach, salesperson, and accelerator

Giving You a Green Light to Think Past the End of Your Project

Rich Maltzman is a master lecturer at Boston University. He is also an author and a consultant who provides students and clients with a deep, rich learning experience and improved results.
Rich Maltzman spoke about the importance of connecting strategy to operations, and outcomes to benefits to deliver value in project management. To make it feasible, project managers must make a significant shift to ‘lifecycle thinking’. He stressed that mindset-changing tools and practices can help project managers focus on the larger scheme of things for the long haul. He also touched upon the concept of responsible project management where project managers must seek to deliver social and environmental value in an ethical manner.

Key Takeaways:
Project managers must align strategy execution to the purpose of the company
Focus on a long-term strategy to create value
Responsible project managers should be inquisitive and address the hidden impacts of a project
Seek harmony between the needs of people, the planet, and profit
Engage stakeholders in decision-making and promote common interests
The project team must think in terms of long-term outcomes, benefits, and value

Fearless Governance

Dr. Kiran Bedi is a distinguished police officer, social activist, and politician who became the first woman in India to join the officer ranks of the IPS in 1972 and was the 24th Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry from 2016 to 2021.
The skills required in project management are changing fast. The importance of soft skills is gaining momentum to manage projects efficiently. Dr. Kiran Bedi highlighted that women are born with empathy just as men are born with confidence. However, what a woman possesses often lacks in men, and vice versa. It is critical to strike a healthy balance of empathy and confidence to become a great leader. She emphasized that when women are equipped with these traits, they can courageously deal with any circumstances irrespective of being in a man’s or woman’s world.

Key Takeaways
Having a sense of belonging to your work enhances your involvement level
Women must be aware of their capability to deal with any situation
Men must learn to develop empathy and women must learn to build confidence
Communication is a key element in a project

Special Session by Toastmasters India
Kathiravan M. Pethi spoke about the vital link between communication and project management. He said that strong organizations like PMI and Toastmasters must collaborate to create ‘magnanimous managers’ and ‘compassionate communicators.’ He said that toastmasters have started clubs in prisons, which has brought in a remarkable transformation. Statistics show that 90 percent of the inmates do not come back to prison.
Key Takeaways
A true leader needs to be a good communicator and a good manager
Learning communication and project management in colleges can bring a change from the modern world’s distractions
A project manager’s ideas can go waste if they fail to communicate effectively

Ayham Bicha spoke on the topic ‘The Glow Worm: The Hero.’ He narrated a story about a glow-worm, one of the main characters from the book ‘James and the Giant Peach’ by Roald Dahl.

Saveen Hegde presented an insightful session on design thinking. He narrated how he ventured into design thinking after finding himself stuck at a laid-out path as a mechanical engineer. He emphasized that we must do something that we are passionate about or love every day and not get imprisoned by predictable patterns. He cautioned that conditioning restricts creativity and poses a challenge to breaking the structure.

Key Takeaways
The purpose of design thinking is to break established patterns and allow new patterns to emerge
Use design thinking as a philosophy to build an innovation team for your organization
Create a balance between chaos and structure
Creativity keeps the child inside you alive and gives opportunities to take up unstructured activities
Design thinking process must incorporate both artistic and business approaches