Sharing experiences with agile: Martin O’Neill on volunteering with APM

5 May 2022 02:25 PM

As the chartered membership organisation for the project profession, we rely on the expertise and commitment of our volunteer community for the development and promotion of project, programme and portfolio management. We spoke with Martin O’ Neill, a member of APM’s Understanding Agile in Project Management steering group and Advanced Certified Scrum Master, about how volunteering has enabled him to improve the profession’s knowledge of agile.

Our Branch and Specific Interest Groups (SIGs) are at the heart of our vibrant volunteer community. We invite you to put yourself forward for the upcoming SIG and Branch committee elections. Nominations are open until 20 June. Click here for more information on the roles available and details of how to submit your nomination.

What volunteering have you been involved with at APM?

I’ve been delighted to have been involved with Agile education and supporting research into Agile. Also, it was incredibly rewarding to write a training course on one of my other passions, sustainability.

Why do you volunteer with APM?

I wanted to give something back to APM because it has helped me so much with my career. I felt the best way I could do that was by sharing my experiences with agile; I’ve been working in agile ways since the 1990s, and in the last 10 years or so I’ve really become a student of agile; trying different tools and techniques and soaking up all the information available. Now I’m able to broker the knowledge I’ve acquired over the years into some key learnings to share with the community; the advice I wish I could have had access to many years ago.

What do you get out of volunteering with APM?

I’ve grown both professionally and personally from volunteering. The diversity of my network has increased; I’ve been able to meet people I would never have met in my regular work and learn from their experiences. I have learnt about diverse topics such as wind farms, robotic dogs, nuclear energy, house building and artificial intelligence. With every interaction I’ve had, no matter how unrelated it seems to my current career, I find I learn something I can use professionally. 

On a personal level, I love being around people who are passionate about helping others; I truly get energised by being around fellow volunteers. Also, having to walk into a room of strangers, albeit friendly strangers, has increased my self-confidence. The challenge of meeting new people, the satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection with someone is personally incredibly rewarding for an introvert.

“Being an APM volunteer supports my passion for learning.”

What would you say to anyone thinking about volunteering with APM?

I would encourage everyone to do it! The team are lovely people and they won’t pressure you to overcommit. You will get more out of your volunteer experience than you can imagine; opportunities and learning present themselves when we least expect them. If, like me, you are passionate about doing valuable work and making a difference, I can thoroughly recommend volunteering with the APM.

Which of your achievements as a volunteer are you most proud of?

The Agile Tools and Techniques for all Projects training course is probably what I’m most proud of and also what I got the most from; seeing it transform from a concept I’d had in my head for a few years to scribbled notes and very rough drawings into a complete training course was amazing. The process of distilling what I would normally spend a full day talking about was challenging and enjoyable. It is said that the best way to master a subject is to teach it and I completely agree with that. Being an APM volunteer supports my passion for learning and enables me to challenge myself to keep learning to remain at the forefront of my profession. The feedback was fantastic too and it was really rewarding that people in the community had drawn real value from it. 

If you’d like to be involved as a committee member of an APM Branch or SIG, you have the chance at our upcoming elections. Click here for more information on the roles available and details of how to submit your nomination.