Parallel Tracks
PMI South Asia

Social Impact at PMI

Ramam Atmakuri is a strategic and innovative thinker with deep insight and experience in building and managing businesses, forging long-term client relationships, and leading multicultural and multidisciplinary teams.

Dinu Raheja is an experienced school manager with a demonstrated history of working in the education management industry. She specializes in coaching, curriculum development, program development and event planning.

Inculcating leadership qualities alone in the youth is not sufficient. They also need to imbibe work-readiness. “To make our youth career, work and industry ready, we must bridge the gap between education and industry. We must strive to make our youth solution drivers,” asserted Ms. Raheja.

By repeating a problem, the problem does not resolve itself. Leaders need to step in and come up with solutions. And, therefore, although project management is a managerial process, it must be taught to the youth like a life skill.

PMI focuses on empowering people, especially changemakers, to make ideas a reality. “We promote project management as a profession and a life skill for the youth who are our changemakers and nation builders. And we focus on educating them at a young age so that they inculcate project management as a life skill,” said Mr. Atmakuri.

Key Takeaways

Inculcate leadership qualities and career readiness in young people.
Encourage them to become solution drivers.
Make them understand sustainable development goals at a young age.

A Journey From Our Farms to Your Families

Satyajit Hange quit his banking job to take up organic farming. He founded Two Brothers Organic Farms in 2014 with his brother Ajinkya Hange. The sustainably produced crops from the farms are sold in 680 cities around the globe.

Satyajit Hange outlined his journey from being a banker to pursuing his “true calling” of becoming an organic farmer and entrepreneur. “It is a dream come true. As somebody has rightly said—when you do something with love, everything else follows. Taking that first leap is important,” said Mr. Hange. In a span of eight years, his pro-environment work was mentioned on the World Environment Day by the Government of India.

The brothers did not have any plan or project in mind nor did they have any targets when they embarked on this journey. They started from a remote village called Bhodani in the Pune district of Maharashtra. And today, the company has grown into a US$6 million business with customers in 52 countries.

“Our parents had kept us away from the village as they thought there was no future in farming. But today we are self-sufficient in the truest sense—we generate our own electricity; we harvest the water we use; we have our own seed bank; we make our own fertilizers; and the products we make from the farm produce—that is, ghee, jaggery, peanut butter, pickles, etc.—are made without any additives or preservatives,” he elaborated.

Mr. Hange stressed that risk is essential and not an option. He advised budding entrepreneurs to take the leap of faith sooner so they can learn to fly faster.

Key Takeaways

Pursue your business organically.
Trust your instinct.
Treat people working alongside you with dignity.
Use a problem as an asset.

Drones and Drone Startup Challenges

Milind Kulshreshtha is the founder of AiKairos that works in the area of niche technologies focused on defense solutions, with drones being the primary technology platform. He has been associated with drone building for five years and has designed India’s first Kamikaze drone solution for the National Security Guard.

After serving in the Indian Navy for a decade as a certified drone pilot, John Livingstone started Johnnette Technologies and the Indian Institute of Drones in 2014. He holds records for being the fastest trained military drone pilot and the only naval officer to be awarded at UAV Tetra School at Indian Air Force in 2007.

“Passion is the driving force that will take you forward. Whether you are working in an organization or planning your startup, if you are not passionate, you will not be able to achieve the desired results,” said Cdr. Milind Kulshreshtha (retired), while suggesting that those who are passionate about flying drones must venture into the drone business.

Seconding his opinion, Lt. Cdr. John Livingstone (retired) said that India no longer purchases drones from Israel. “From 2007 to 2014, we used to procure drones from international companies and that is when this startup concept pinched me and a few other like-minded people. In 2009, we decided to go indigenous. And from that time, atma nirbharta (self-sufficiency) in this sector began in the true sense,” he said.

They spoke about the importance of being self-reliant when it comes to the country’s defense capabilities. However, creating indigenous solutions is difficult, especially at a time when ready-to-use solutions can be procured from outside the country. “Hence, leaders must challenge their teams to learn, innovate and create solutions in-house. which will then result in the overall development of the individual and also make the organization self-reliant,” he added.

Key Takeaways

Be passionate about your goals.
Make every challenge a learning opportunity.
Push your team to make self-reliance a motto.

Design Thinking — Humanizing Project Management

Before starting Humane Design & Innovation Consulting LLP, Ajay Aggarwal founded the design thinking and innovation practice at KPMG India. His career spans across roles in advisory, product and service design, process automation, sales and business development and training.

Businesses must shift their perspective from designing products to designing human experiences. The role of empathy is significant, therefore, organizations need to encourage and build empathy to enable the transition.

Ajay Aggarwal explained that design thinking is a human-centered approach to finding problems and solving them with continuous experimentation. Some of the secret ingredients of design thinking include exploring, ideating, creating and evolving.

He stressed that design thinking is not a process where designers solve the problems of customers. Design thinkers are problem finders, a set of professionals who are in big demand today.

He stated that project managers or people in leadership positions are not real disruptors. The disruptors are the consumers, whose lives have been impacted by change and who are demanding new experiences.

Key Takeaways

Design thinkers are storytellers who craft stories around design.
Fail fast and succeed sooner.
Think of the customer as the real disruptor.

Project/Program Management and Data Visualization

Deepak Mulay is a mechanical engineer with over a decade of experience in project controls and program management across fertilizer process plants, nuclear power plants, downstream oil and gas facilities and the energy sector.

Data is everywhere. People are dealing with large volumes of data every day. But for data to provide value, it needs to be handled smartly so that one can derive meaningful insights from it. Without such capability, you cannot predict the future of your projects or company.

British mathematician Clive Humbly said in 2006, “Data is the new oil.” Deepak Mulay said that the analogy has proven to be correct, as data now drives businesses, much like oil, and is extremely valuable, but if left unrefined, it is useless.

How is visual project management helping in navigation of complex data? Mr. Mulay explains that visualization combines a large amount of project data from different sources and weaves together appealing and meaningful visuals. Visual project management helps in quickly facilitating the right decisions at the right time.

Comparing traditional project tools to visual project management, he said that the former provides static reports with limited connections to external data. Visual project management uses interactive and visually appealing dashboards and makes the information easily available to everyone involved in a project.

Key Takeaways

Adopt visual project management for dynamic reporting of data from multiple sources.
Allow cross-filtering and drill-through filters for sharper insights.
Access different types of information on a single platform and avoid email exchanges.

Hybrid Project Management–The Key to Better Outcomes?

Monika Muddamshetty is a seasoned leader in the delivery and agile space, dealing with people and processes to deliver improved outcomes across projects, programs and portfolios. In her current role, she heads an agile center of excellence that drives the journey to agile ways of working.

Traditionally, projects were executed in line with agreements with customers in terms of scope, time, cost and quality. But that is no longer the case. Even when projects are delivered as per predefined agreements, it might not be of enough value. “Given the changing market needs, requirements and customer expectations, customers always look for change because they have to align with the market,” Monika Muddamshetty said. Project management must therefore accommodate change.

Ms. Muddamshetty said that the predictive (waterfall) approach is best suited for projects that are straightforward and have clarity on what needs to be done. But that approach does not offer flexibility or the ability to respond to change quickly. The agile approach is more effective for such projects. Also known as the adaptive approach, it focuses on flexibility, trust, collaboration and customer centricity.

Elucidating the hybrid concept, Ms. Muddamshetty said, “Hybrid project management is usually best suited for projects that fall between some level of agreement on what needs to be done and some level of certainty on how it needs to be done with different movable variable paths.”

Key Takeaways

Use the predictive approach only when there is clarity on what is needed.
Customize processes to align a project with the context to maximize the probability of success.
Adopt hybrid project management as middle ground between fixed scope and flexibility.