Conference Overview

Exploring the Interplay of Human Creativity and Digital Tools in Project Management

To drive innovation, project leaders must facilitate collaboration between technology tools and human skills.

Is technological innovation sufficient to effectively address the evolving project landscape and prepare for future challenges? Technology excels at automating tasks and speeding decision-making, but it lacks the creative problem-solving skills and analytical thinking of humans. Therefore, balancing technological advancements with human-centric approaches in project management is critical for superior project outcomes. These thought-provoking insights, shared by eminent speakers from diverse industries, stood out as core takeaways at the 15th edition of the Project Management South Asia Conference (PMSAC) 2023. Exploring the theme, “Innovation in Action: Connecting Humans and Technology,” the conference was hosted by the PMI Chennai Chapter on 2 and 3 September in Chennai.

The conference was attended by more than 780 project professionals from India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. It served as the ideal platform for professionals to network and exchange fresh insights that contribute to reshaping the project management community.

The event kicked off with an opening speech by Prasanna Sampathkumar, PMI’s Region 11 mentor. Conference chair and president of the PMI Chennai Chapter, Parvez Alam, welcomed the delegates and set the context for the conference.

In his keynote address, Ike Nwankwo, governance committee chair of PMI, emphasized the importance of collaboration in achieving innovation. Chief guest, Dr. Palanivel Thiagarajan, minister of information technology and digital services, Government of Tamil Nadu, said, “People in project management are likely to have a brilliant future because the demand for project professionals is only going to increase.”

Kishore Jayaraman, president of Rolls Royce — India and South Asia, stressed that project managers must look at outcomes rather than actions for sustainable business. Srimathi Shivashankar, corporate vice president and business head of EdTech Services, HCLTech, highlighted the need for project managers to place more emphasis on revenue generation rather than cost reduction.

Sandeep Kumar, founder and CEO of Product Dossier, spoke about investing in people and technology for sustained revenue growth. R. K. Shenoy, member of the executive leadership team and senior vice president of Mobility Engineering at Bosch Global Software Technologies, talked about Bosch’s experience in moving from a hierarchical to a flat, collaborative ecosystem to enable the creation of integrated products.

Sandeep Kochhar, certified leadership coach, emphasized the importance of storytelling and the role of emotions, rather than logic, in narrating compelling stories. The final keynote on Day 1 was delivered by Sowmya Iyer, founder and CEO of DViO, who discussed the technologies that are poised to transform the future.

Delegate participation remained high on Day 2. The day began with a welcome address by Vijay Narayanan, conference director and secretary of the PMI Chennai Chapter.

Dr. Srimathy Kesan, founder and CEO of Space Kidz India, narrated the journey of inventing a tiny satellite weighing 64 grams using 3D printing technology.

Talking about innovation, Saveen Hegde, founder and director of Unbox Experience, emphasized that organizations must implement a strategy for fostering innovation to solve practical business problems. Namita Mishra, senior solution consultant, strategic portfolio management (SPM), ServiceNow, discussed how organizations can boost their efficiency in achieving business outcomes through SPM.

Kewyn George, global director, information services, Expeditors, highlighted the role of generative artificial intelligence (AI) in helping project professionals smoothly navigate changes in today’s business landscape.

Rajendran Dandapani, director of technology, Zoho Corporation, explained why project managers must prioritize simplicity, micromanagement and procrastination as strategies to enhance productivity.

Dr. Aravindan Selvaraj, co-founder and executive director of Kauvery Hospital, spoke about the critical role of technology in planning future strategies for better preparedness in the healthcare sector.

Lt. Gen. Arun Ananthanarayan gave an inspiring talk on the “power of straight lines,” which is the strict adherence to rules, as the secret to success.

The parallel track speakers included Santosh Bhadule, director of software engineering, Burns and McDonnell; Dr. Yadvendradev V. Jhala, field biologist and conservationist; Ashutosh Bhatawadekar, engagement director at Tata Consultancy Services; Tal Karkashon, lead solutions engineer (APAC),; Ramam Atmakuri, chair, board of directors, PMIEF; and Dr. M. Manivannan, professor of biomedical engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Madras.

Awards were presented to the winners of the annual PMI South Asia Awards that recognize excellence in project execution. Teesta Solar Limited, Engineers India Limited, Bosch Automotive Electronics India Pvt. Ltd. and Northeast Frontier Railway won in the large, medium, small and micro categories, respectively. L.V. Prasad Eye Institute and Daahuk were recognized for their contributions in the Nongovernmental Organization (NGO) and Contribution to the Community categories, respectively.

The conference host, the PMI Chennai Chapter, passed on the responsibility for hosting PMSAC 2024 to the PMI North India Chapter. Next year’s conference will take place in New Delhi.