Association for Project Management
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Professor Naomi Brookes named Honorary Fellow of APM

Association for Project Management (APM) has named Naomi Brookes, Professor of Complex Programme Management at WMG, University of Warwick, as its newest Honorary Fellow.

Naomi is a globally renowned expert on the performance of large and complex projects, and a highly regarded researcher. She has authored more than 130 peer-reviewed papers, book chapters and articles in the field of project and innovation management, and her findings have been shared with organisations such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Bank, the UK’s National Audit Office and the Nuclear Decommissioning Agency, among others.

We spoke with Naomi about her career in projects and her predictions for the future of the project profession.

How do you feel about becoming an Honorary Fellow of APM?

“My reaction is one of complete and total delight. I feel humbled by it.

“For me, Fellowship is a recognition of the research I’ve done throughout my career. I’m delighted to receive this from APM, which I view as the voice of the project profession. I also find it significant for this to come in APM’s 50th anniversary year, as it’s a reflective time for anyone who has been doing research into making projects better.”

What have been some of your career highlights?

“I was lucky enough to run a project called MEGAPROJECT COST Action for many years. I went to solar farms, nuclear power plants and hydroelectric plants in Europe and South America. The opportunity to see these incredible achievements, speak to the people involved and be able to share those stories has been absolutely incredible.”

What’s next for you?

“Following the pandemic, I felt it was a good time to step away for a while and do something completely different. I’ve enrolled as an arts student at Hereford College of Arts. I’m passionate about art, but I also feel there’s a very clear link between art and project management. Patronage and delivery requirements are genuine factors that artists need to consider. Linking art with project management encourages us to think about art and artists in a more realistic way.

“For me, this is a great opportunity to step back for a bit, look at where the project profession has got to and where it needs to go next, which is more important than ever when you consider the challenges facing society.

“I see Honorary Fellowship as a responsibility; not only to help APM carry on doing what it’s doing, but also to think about the future too. Whilst I’m studying for the next few months, it will be an opportunity to think about what needs to change within the profession. I think there are some major points about project delivery that need to be addressed if we’re going to move forwards.”

What are the points to address?

“The first point is the obsession with ‘linear’. We know that not all projects proceed on a perfectly linear basis. We know they cycle back. I’ve seen this from my work on major projects – and especially nuclear decommissioning. We have to blend the hard realities of engineering with the flexibility that’s needed to deliver a project well.

“The other key point, for me, is more practical. I do a lot of work in data analytics and I’ve found that project practitioners rarely record their forecasts. The systems that are set up to monitor progress don’t have original forecasts, so they don’t know how they’re performing against those. If you don’t understand how you’re performing against your forecasts, you can’t improve in the future.”

What else do you predict for the future of the project profession?

“I see the biggest opportunity for the profession to be reinvention. When you consider all the ways we can work now and all the ways we can use data to manage projects – everybody is talking about it, but I don’t think anyone has got to grips with these things quite yet. Reinvention is about realistically understanding what you can do now that you couldn’t do before. I’m looking forward to the new generation of project practitioners coming through. When I look at the mindset of 20-somethings today, it’s very different to the mindset of my generation in their twenties. They’re more tech-savvy and more socially focused. It’s a generation that looks at the greater good. It’s going to be really interesting to see the impact they have on the world of project delivery.”

 

Channel website: https://www.apm.org.uk/

Original article link: https://www.apm.org.uk/news/professor-naomi-brookes-named-honorary-fellow-of-apm/

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