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E01 - Is the Project Management Office Still Fit For Purpose?

November 5, 2021

Author Fatimah Abbouchi will share insights and perspective on the white paper Is the Project Management Office Still Fit For Purpose?  The white paper  aims to identify the challenges and issues surrounding the PMO and to address the lag between the PMO and Project Management practices across an organisation.  Join the discussion as host Ilinca Nicolescu goes beyond the book with Fatimah Abbouchi.

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So for everyone out there, we are recording the session so nothing will be lost from the juicy topics that we will go over. A few other housekeeping notes would be that for any questions you may have, please feel free to ask them, but please use the chat box and we will be taking some time at the end of the session or throughout and just going through your questions. So no worries about nothing will remain unanswered. But for the purpose of kind of having a fluid conversation, ideally would be to keep ourselves on mute, not to have any background like this.

So without further Ado, just to start with a brief introduction of what we gathered here today, my name is Dolinka Nicolescu. I am an ambassador from Canada within the PMO Dealer community, which as a side note is a great place, very refreshing community to be part of within our profession and with sincerely recommendation for everybody who is in the industry to check it out. There are so many resources available to us that really help us to really be excellent at what we do on a daily basis, and the membership is free.

So that's one of the interesting perks about it. Everything is available for just being part of and we also have the communities based on forums. We have peer discussions. We have excellent professionals like Fatima here with us today. Then we can always ask for advice, and those are the precious items that we don't really get these days as part of the PMO Leader community. One of the initiatives and one of the resources available to the community members is obviously a book Sent Beyond podcast series, the first of which being today my pleasure to be a host of this first episode than to have Fatima as our guest and to discuss with her about her white paper and also about to learn more about herself and hear more about all the excellent advice that she has to give for us so far.

I think if you're okay, would you like to tell us a bit about yourself?

Yeah. Sounds good. Thanks for the introduction and everything that you just said about the communities, why I decided to do the first episode, but also to be part of it in helping to grow that global presence for PMO leaders around the world and those who want to learn about it and how to best leverage those PMO leaders. Moving forward a little bit about myself. So I've been in this project program portfolio PMO Space for almost 19 years. Actually, I fell into it by accident and had no idea what project management was until I fell into it in a really large global manufacturing company many years ago.

And then I got thrown into a project, which I found out later what that meant and just absolutely loved everything about it. I like the temporary ending. So the temporary nature of it, the defined end, et cetera. I then decided that I wanted to learn about project management in as many industries as I possibly could, and that was my career goal at that point in time, many years ago and had the pleasure of working across 16 industries, about 25 companies, probably about 16 countries globally today so far, which has been great experiences during my career.

I found myself moving closer and closer to governance and assurance and monitoring evaluation PMO Space because I love the idea of bringing together the delivery teams, the project delivery teams, and people in operations where there was basically different views on how these things work and helping to bridge the gap between the two is the reason I thought to bring them together. So I've been doing that for a while also outside of that, probably in the last six to eight years, I set up a business Agile Management office, which I founded and CEO of Female Women led business here in Australia, Australian owned and made and also have recently set up a not for profit in the mental health space, which is a big passion of mine around mental health awareness and anxiety support, which is something that I talk very passionately about as well.

Other than that, I've had the pleasure of working across any kind of project you can think of across all those different industries. And in my spare time I do a lot of writing as well, which is where the white paper comes into play and addresses certain needs and problems that are identified, which I'm sure we'll get into as well, but yeah, that's a little bit about me.

Well, that's excellent. I'm sure that all this experience across all these industries have been really helpful to give you that inspiration for your business and for your white paper. And I'm sure we'll hear more about it, and I'm jealous, so to speak. My professional experience is more so focused on one industry in particular, and that is the pharmaceutical industry. However, you may find it interesting that in such a big industry, the notion of PMO is so little well known and improperly used. I would say so. This podcast is also, I guess, very useful for me to hear about your experience and see how I can make a bit of wave.

And I can help make a better wave in this industry.

Yeah, absolutely. You're spot on Pharmacy, whose is one of the ones that I've worked in as well, working with Glaciersmith client.

As well.

And it's the same one. Oh, there you go.

Small world.

But we can surely exchange stories. But you're right. I think that there is definitely it doesn't matter the size of the industry across every industry that I've worked in, there is a different even appreciation or lack of appreciation for what the concept of PMO can do for an organization, and it really does vary. Some industries are more mature, I think in the banking and finance sector, there's definitely a lot more maturity and awareness of what PMO can offer and how that works. But then on the other side of it, for example, in other industries where it's less appreciated or less, I've seen less in manufacturing as an example, and they have a lot of other types of roles and functions that do similar things.

They just don't umbrella it as PMO. So yeah, lots to learn, for sure.

However, the project manager as a role is across all industries.

That's the thing that amazes me about project management. I try to explain to my migrant parents what I do and I say to them, oh, Mom, I'm doing project management in a bank, and they go and tell her she's a manager in a bank. They don't understand the concept of project when baking a cake is a project. Building a house is a project. So I'm trying to these days, spend a lot more time helping to educate on the fundamentals of project management because it's so powerful and it makes the world go round.

So yeah, it's really exciting to be in the industry. Yes.

Well, that's excellent.

Okay. So.

If you'd like to go over a bit about your white paper, right, to answer your question, the great title Project Management Office still sits for a purpose. I think that's a great question to start with what inspired you to come to this right paper?

Obviously, I wrote this. It took over a year to write, which is crazy, considering the amount of pages in it is not that much. And probably books are done in half the time. But when you're asking such a controversial question and you've got that many differing opinions globally that will completely agree and completely disagree with it, you have to take a really balanced approach in going forward to get the right information to help answer the question that it's not just based on one person's opinion, but rather the community itself.

So what inspired me to write this was I always wanted to write something, and I've got many ideas for books that I'm working on in the background. I just haven't got to a point yet where I know exactly where I wanted to land. So I thought, as a dipping my toe in the water, why don't I write a white paper? And I looked at the time and I didn't see anything that was a series. So I wrote this white paper as a series and released a chapter at a time each month for a series of sorry every couple of weeks for a series of months.

And I thought one that was a new, unique, innovative thing, and that's what I'm trying to do, try to do things that I think are innovative and unique, and that's what we do in our business as well. And I really thought that there is such a divide happening in the last five or six years that I've been running our job management office. And because I've worked with so many different clients, I kept seeing the same problem. You've got one side of the fence, which is adores PMOs and can't imagine life without them.

Then you've got the other side of the fence, which is completely burnt by bad past experiences or negative perceptions or not understanding and lack of awareness of what PMOs can do for an organization. So I thought, okay, well, you've got both sides. We need to bring the two together and try to answer the fundamental question. And the way that I want you to do that is by looking at the research around project management in general. And I work with academics both here in Denmark and also interview people across seven countries to be able to formulate the answer to the question around whether the P mode, in fact, is fit for purpose.

And it was the hardest thing I did, I think professionally in a really long time. And when we got it out there, I was extremely relieved and very proud of the work that my team and I did to get it together.

Well, that's excellent. Then what countries did you work with for gathering your feedback?

So, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, we spoke to people in the US, we spoke to people in Ireland, we spoke to people in India. There was probably about probably a couple more. There was one more. I think maybe it was Croatia. And then there was one more might have been in Asia. It might have been someone in China. I have to double check, but, yeah, I think it's all listed on the website as well where people can download it for free.

That's excellent.

Yeah, definitely.

So your audience for this white paper would be project managers. Obviously, that's part of it, but not part of it.

Yeah, part of it. Interestingly, though. The people that I interviewed were practitioners. So project management practitioners, PMO executives, as well as the academics that I spoke with that have been working and researching and doing the academic side of project management for a really long time. So I got different lenses. So when I wrote this white paper, I actually was writing it as sort of a letter to executives, because the executives are the ones that can make or break the way that organization's project efficiency can work by the people they hire, by the way they set up their project management functions, by the way that they fund them, sponsor them.

And the same applies with how they work with their PMOs. So originally the thinking was let me write something that's kind of like a letter to executives. But then at the same time, what I found is through the last five or six years of work we've been doing and developing out the Amo method, which is something that I apply across multiple industries. I also talk a lot about that, which means that the practitioners, the project managers at PMO professionals and those that are coming up the ranks can actually leverage it as a tool to help them improve the way that they set up, run or work with PMO, right?

That's not a smart approach. Obviously, the leadership folks would be the ones that would be the decision makers, right. And the power of making changes within their organization and their processes. So the audience is well, wider than just the project manager, which is great. Anything about the content? We would definitely like to hear more about the content. You said you have series.

Yeah. Because I decided to do it as a series. Obviously, I had to make the storyline of the white paper very logical. So that way we can basically on a journey, go through it together to get to the end point. Now, I won't ruin the ending of what the answer to the question is, I'll let people read it. But what I wanted to do is I wanted to when interviewing people I wanted to take from them what they believe to be the biggest challenges and opportunities for PMOs globally and leveraging that.

I then culminated all of that data and all of that information along with my own insights and our team's work over the last six years to then break up the story of the white paper into a number of chapters. Effectively, we've got nine chapters. And out of those chapters, we basically have covered seven key challenges globally that I think still apply today, even though I wrote this in the last couple of years, and they are starting with what I believe is now the hottest topic in PMO, which is how we govern in agile ways.

And I always talk about putting the agility into governance, not the governance into agile, which is a big thing I'm spending time working on at the moment. Then we talk about organizational misalignment, and that is where the executives themselves have a big part to play and really make or break the way that this support function can help an organization all the way through to stakeholder needs the disconnect between project management and delivery. Sorry, PMO, that supporting delivery through to what are the key things that are holding PMOs back?

Lack of training, which is why I love this community as well, because there hasn't been that much growing up, climbing the corporate ladder and working in PMO, there hasn't been really that much the people like me, people like us to actually leverage. If you look at chapter one in the white paper, I look at the last 100 years and compare project management and PMO. And you'll see there's a vast difference between all of the support and all of the development and innovation in project management compared to that of PMO.

And considering PMO is there to help support projects being successful, I actually asked a question in the white paper of whether they're actually holding project management delivery success back. And that's another story.

For another time, it seems like the project management is way ahead in terms of development comparing to the PMO, right. Leaving them behind. Which is somewhat strange, considering the PMO should be encompassing the project management and providing that level of support and direction.

Yeah. 100%. And if you think about it as a good casing point, if you think of the major players in project management profession, which we all know who they are, when you look at what the literature is around, that their methodologies and their frameworks and the work that they've done, the pin box of the world and things like that when you look at the earlier days of what was referenced in there that relates to PMO, it's very little. Even when you look at what was there in the scaled agile framework collateral early on, when they sort of initially came out, there was very little.

I mean, it's evolved. Now this is a bit more for sure. But I mean governance and P-M-I didn't even get mentioned at all. But then nowadays it's starting to become a need because what's happening is organizations are realizing that, yes, they want to do agile ways of working. And yes, we want self steering teams. And yes, we want autonomy. But when you think about it, we've got people that have different personalities and the way that they work in organizations. You're going to get some people that are really good at that sort of stuff and are able to self steer and all.

But then you're going to have other people, like my siblings, for example, who need direction, guidance and steering. They're just never going to be some of them and never going to be the people on organizations that are going to be able to do that. So we have to understand there's different personalities and different behaviors, and we have to understand that. So I think that there's definitely a lot of room to improve, and that's pretty much what's been my focus the last few years now.

Anyway, that's definitely, I think, a big challenge, but it's also interesting challenge. So you said you mentioned earlier that it took you about a year to complete the white paper. Did you have supported work with a team? Yes.

We've got a small team back then. We probably got four or five people. We're closer to ten now, and we had to schedule where we had to, first of all, go out to market and find professionals and academics that wanted to speak to me, to get interview to provide input into this project, this project. So we did that. And so I had some help. Obviously, I actually identified the people that I wanted to reach out to. It was initially an open call for anyone, so it wasn't like selected people or anything like that.

So that was really great. So it wasn't a biased view from a particular lens or anything like that. I had people in my team from graphic design to help with the design of the look and feel of it. I also had some people doing some research and helping to provide insights and what was going on in the market as well. And then obviously we had some proof reading and just to make sure that everything looked and felt right in terms of putting it together, definitely had a lot of different insights and perspectives along the journey from the people that I interviewed that I mentioned in the white paper as well.

Towards the end, I believe that they're referenced in there as well. So it was a big team effort. Everything we do in our job management office is a team effort. We codesign and cocreate almost everything, and that's what makes the way we work. So I think so great and makes us enable to move as fast as we can and be that autonomous team that can support each other along that journey. So, yeah, it was definitely a lot of hands on deck to get to where we get to.


Would it be fair to say that this project, the White Paper project, was an agile project 100%. So you applied the methodology.

I mean, even for example, releasing a chapter at a time. What that meant was we could test the market, get the feedback, and then there would be questions or comments made against the chapter, whether it's good or bad. And mostly, I think for the most part, is really positive all the way through. And then we would take those feedback and also learnings because we were moving at such speed to then improve further chapters. And at the end of every chapter, we've got a key question that we're asking that then feeds the next chapter.

But were we at the time I was releasing and then refining the content and writing at the same time, so that we can get that sort of iterative feedback as we move through. So it definitely was run in a very agile way.

Yeah, that's excellent. I think putting it into practice. So how about which chapter do you find the most challenging?

This is interesting. I think for me it was probably around chapter eight value proposition, because value means different things to different people. Some of us can go into a Tiffany store and buy a beautiful diamond engagement ring and think that that's the best thing and that's the value for money. But then others will go. Absolutely. No, I'm not spending that sort of money. I'm really quite happy with the local jeweler and getting a ring from there. Right. So value is instead of the eye of the holder.

So I think trying to articulate what value means is so different. I can't tell you one industry or one company that I can say that that was the same here and the PMO was the same there. And I think the problem that PMO has is and I know because I've done this before myself with experiences we have we then assume that what we did at this company in this industry is going to work in the next one, and we try to repeat the same thing, even if it was successful, we try to do the exact same thing.

And what I'm saying is no, you can't do that because that's not learning about the environment and the value that you need to provide to those people. Yes. We want to support projects to be successful. Yes. We want to ensure delivery can move at speed and remove blockers and impediments and all of that sort of stuff. But trying to articulate what and how to find the value proposition was what I was emphasizing in chapter eight, and that was something that I had to be really conscious of.

Whatever I think is value is going to be different to your opinional, value and your clients and your managers and things like that. So that was a bit of a challenge for sure. Definitely.

I have to admit, I did with your white paper before, so I really appreciate I did not feel at any point in time that it was not accommodating any kind of mindset. I think so. Yeah, it was a great one, but definitely see the challenge.

It absolutely is short, which is great. It's like dipping my toe and I just wanted to people may not have read it. And the good thing is it's still like I'm so proud because it is still referred to people talk about it. I give it to clients. Now, whenever I meet a new client, I give them a copy and then I get feedback about it. And I only wrote it a couple of years ago, but to be released at the end of 2019. So the fact that it's still remnant now with what's going on and actually probably chapter two around.

Governing an agile way is hugely relevant, I think. And then if you look at chapter nine, the way to now, which you would have most recently read that talks about the things that I'm aspiring for us to do to help the industry as a whole and connect practitioners and the executives and connect the agile and the waterfall. And that chapter nine. It's really exciting to see that we've evolved from where we were, what I wrote about and what's actually happened is actually happened, which is good planning, I guess, to see where it's gone.

And so it's really rewarding to do something like that.

And I don't think it will have an expiration date when it comes to lessons learned. I think it would be as valuable now as it will be years from now.

I've definitely learnt lessons in general in writing something which is definitely something that I'll take on board for the subsequent writing journeys.

Just curious, what was your I guess, inspiration writing mode? Did you have a different set up for each chapter or how did it all happen?

It was interesting because I've never written anything this big before, so I didn't know what to do or how to do it. I like writing. I do a lot of blogs. I think I've got a monthly blog that goes every month on LinkedIn and I do lots and lots of writing, but I never had a style. But then when I was going to writing this, I have to do a little bit of research and just understand how do you plan and prepare to write something now I looked at things like how to write a book because obviously this is the segue into what that could be.

What I think is really helpful for me is I'm the type of person that I needed to have a good couple of hours of slow, my complete undistracted time to focus. And what really was worthwhile for me is I like to listen. This might be interesting for some people, but I even listened to some really soft sort of like it sounds like yoga music with no words, or I listen to Spanish speaking songs. So my husband speaks Spanish, but I don't understand as much of it as I'd like to.

So when I listen to that, I love the BM and it keeps me motivated. But then the language obviously is not enough that I understand all of it. So I'm not distracted by their words while I'm writing my words. It has to be no words or words in another language, and that's what really motivated me to kind of right away. But yeah, we chopped and changed. I think I originally wrote it as a full piece and then realized no, this has got to be broken down into chapters.

If I want people to be able to actually relate to the content and also absorb it before then we then give them the opportunity to see the next piece. And I'm doing that with a lot of other things as well for iterative approach in bringing people on that journey.

That's excellent. I'm sure you had a lot of fun. I think that was the key message. Also focus, but also in a fun, maybe relaxed mood environment. I think focus is so hard to get these days.

Yeah. I don't know how fun it was because it was really painful, if I'm honest, but I think the fun bit for me I'm really good at. I enjoy gathering data from lots of different sources and then bringing data to like, you're doing team or risk issues, change. Comps all of these things. We have to consolidate it and then distribute information in a way that's going to suit the audiences. And that's what I was doing with this. So I effectively was using all of the PMO skills that I've learned over the years to actually apply some of those to writing a white paper, which is again, it's a project, and it was very transferable skills.

Yeah. Exactly.

Okay. Well, thank you for sharing that. And now that it was published in 2019, the white paper?


How did you promote it? How did you find the best way to connect it with the audience?

So my biggest audience is LinkedIn. At the moment, I've had a lot of success in getting information out there. But one of the first things we did is I put together a go to marketing plan, so go to marketing plan looked at how we would get the actual chapters, because now we decided it was going to be chapter, how we would promote those chapters and also sequences so that we have following chapters that can be released in a consistent, timely fashion. So people weren't reading one chapter and then waiting five weeks for another.

We actually wanted to be really synchronized in the way that they received the next chapter. So I think we might have from memory. I have to go back and check. But we might have released a chapter Tuesdays and Thursdays. I think over the same week it might have been over two weeks. So we have to prepare for that. And then we also prepared a lot of social media posts, predominantly for LinkedIn, but also for Facebook and Twitter. We did do it on Instagram as well. There's surprisingly, audiences that are still relevant outside of LinkedIn on those platforms.

And so we did do a lot of sharing on that for sure. I also released a video for each chapter to introduce the chapter. And also there's a subsequent podcast episode that is recorded of me reading through the chapter as well. Anyone who wants to listen to it in an audio way, you can go to agile Ideas, the podcast and actually see each individual chapter and listen to them that way as well.

That's like an open book section. Pretty much excellent. So where can one find the you mentioned that you had videos for each chapter. Are these on your website or on website?

So these are on if you go to www. Dot. Agilemanagementoffice. Com. If you go to our website, there's a resources section. So the white paper is there and all of the links to our podcast and also the links to videos, all the videos we release videos, all sorts of things, free resources, of course. And there's also ebooks and things like that that are on our website. So that would be the best place. Or they can also go to Vimeo the video sharing platform and look up a geo management office and find our recordings there as well.

So many places. Of course, they will probably go on to the Amo website because it seems that there are more resources there. So the white paper would also be available there for the audience. Exactly.

Just under the resources tab of the website.

Okay, that's excellent. How about moving forward? I think you mentioned earlier something about a book.

I've been talking about it, but because it's something so daunting and big, I'm breaking it up into bite sized chunks over a really long period of time. There's a couple of things I'm doing. So at the moment I am working on a book that I'm writing that is a culmination of all of my work and also specifically the last six years around Agility, the Amoe method, all of the practical side of how that is being applied into organizations. One organization. We applied my approach into Australia's second largest retailer and increased employee engagement by 15% in twelve months, which was unheard of as well as winning Project of the Year last year and also Professional Services of the year.

So we've been winning awards for the work that we've been doing. So I want to take all of that and put that into a book that can be really practical. So I'm working on that. That's probably a slow project, just because at the moment, I'm leveraging learnings and insights from client work and actually also as we go through that journey, applying those lessons and then writing about it and applying and learning and things like that. But the one that you'll probably see sooner is I'm working on another white paper series, which I won't share too much about at the moment, but it has to do with Agile, and that is something that we have basically been planning for the last few months.

We started it in lockdown when we were. Most of us weren't out and about and we've just kicked off and ramped up some of the work in that. So we've actually got some things coming out so early, probably say in the first quarter of next year, there probably be more information about what that's going to look like, and it will be another series, but not specific or raising just a few female. It's actually more of an industry wide agile thing by paper series.

So then this is the next opportunity to meet again. I'm sure there will be other occasions in the meantime, but now we have a day.

Sounds good luck. It is.

Okay. Well, that sounds excellent then.

Thank you.

I think there was a lot of questions for you and you showed us a lot of great details. I think maybe just to kind of sum up, is there anything you were a new writer yourself when you started this white paper? Any advice that you think tips for anybody who would like to kind of go on the same path?

Yeah. I think the first and most important thing is if you're going to do something, you're going to write about something you have to be passionate about it. Don't go right about something. I'm not going to go and write about blockchain and cryptocurrency. I don't understand that space. It's not my passion. I've been told. Let's do a podcast about them. That's not me. Don't talk to me about that stuff. So you have to be passionate about it because it was so painful to go through the effort of writing it and took a long time, as I said so because of that, the only thing that kept me going is like, I feel like I have so much to give in terms of information, and I wanted to share that not just through the blogs and the videos and the podcast, but also in a way that people can physically feel in touch and something to give clients give back to clients who have worked with us as well.

So I would probably say definitely definitely be passionate about the topic. Otherwise you'll get halfway through waste half the time and not proceed with it any further. Also, think about like before we wrote this before, I kind of went to this journey and writing this. I looked at what was out there in the market already. There's no point in writing something that is going to be the exact same as the past five or six things that you've seen that everybody's kind of writing about the same thing.

You can make it unique and write about it in a way that's different to you. But pick something quite niche, like think of something that's right. Quite niche rather than too broad and focus on that audience, because that will definitely help. Then those people who they love what you've done, they will obviously support the work in sharing it as well. So that will be the second thing. And then the first thing is have a plan. So don't just write for the sake of writing, actually have a plan.

Say, every Saturday or Sunday or Monday or whatever it might be. This is the way that I'm going to get there. And if you put together a go to market approach for how you're going to release this work backwards from that day, that then puts the pressure on and it gives you a deadline to work towards. Okay.

Well, that's excellent advice. I think probably you really touched base on a gap, I guess with this white paper, something that was definitely needed and not written about before or not spoken about before.

I think so. Because for me, when I was doing some research is a lot of things being at the time that we're written, we're coming from your big conglomerate, firms or industries or whatever. There's a lot of academic knowledge that comes from that. There's a lot of research, et cetera. But I wanted to write something for practitioners, by practitioners from that lens. And that was something that was really important for me when writing this. And I think the thing that also is really important as well is that I wanted to make sure that it was something that people could literally read and then apply some of the lessons or the approaches that I talk about.

So think of it as sort of like I said earlier, it's the front door for what's going on in my mind. And now I want to evolve that with the further things that we'll be doing in the coming months and years as well. So it was really important for me to focus on that.

Okay. Well, that's excellent. Okay. Well, I think we have a few questions. Shall we take on some of these?

Sounds good. Okay.

Let me see. Okay. So the first one, are there any plans for a follow up white paper or book to see any evolution over time? I think we nailed it.

We did cover it, but I can actually add something that I didn't mention that. So what I did was when I released this. I released this in 2019, but during the years of I think it was 18 2020, I was doing some work with Australia's second largest supermarket chain, and whilst doing that work was actually applying a research method that I've learned from the academics that I was working with both here Australia and them are and actually applying a research method to the work that we were doing to test and prove the concepts that I briefly mentioned in the white paper that then resulted in, as I mentioned earlier, employee engagement satisfaction scores going up, and that was measured by them and then also did some award wings that was measured by the Australian Institute of Project Management.

So I've applied some of the things I've talked about from the white paper, and now I want to evolve that into the next stage and deep dive into that, which is where the book concept. And also, obviously, I'm going to be working on that white paper that is a job related. So that's something that I'm actually doing at the moment as well. So yeah, definitely a further evolution of that.

We are definitely researchers, especially when you're writing your own researcher.

Exactly. Definitely.

Okay. Let's see what other great questions we have? What does it mean for you to be an author within the industry? I've thought of writing about my experiences within the industry but never considered myself an author.

I don't consider myself an author to be honest as well. Yet I feel like I'm cheating by saying I'm an author for writing a white paper. But then if you look up the definition of the offer and you kind of think, okay, maybe that's fair. I actually have always loved to write. I used to enter competitions when I was little and 25 words or less, and you win this and win that. And I was in magazines when I was little winning competitions when I was primary school and things like that.

So I've always been someone that loves to RIA into the national novella riding competition. I didn't win at all. I wasn't very good at it, but I think thousand words in secondary College. So I love writing. And so my dream is to actually do also something. Maybe one day I have a bestseller, et cetera. And I'm just such a big project and I would obviously have to put on hold some of the other things I'm doing. So I'm not there yet, but I just think that if you just start by writing blogs and I mean literally just write 500 words on a post on LinkedIn, do that every day or every couple of days for a year.

By the end of the year, you'll be so much more advanced in your writing that when going to write a white paper, it won't be as daunting. So I think that would be what my advice would be. And I did the same thing. Yeah.

No, I think that's a great transition. The blog is more of. I guess it offers you that familiar kind of environment that gives you the first steps and then breaking the ice. Then you can sit and go towards the wife. That's for sure.


Let's say one more question and then we can go to the next stage Besides the white paper. This is a great question. Besides your white paper, do you have any books that you recommend the PMO either to take a look at?

There's a lot I've been reading books not specific to PMO just generally. I've tried to read twelve books this year. I know that doesn't sound like a lot for some people. One a month and I've read some really great ones. One of the things I've read most recently that I think would help leader to eloquently describe or present information in a way that makes sense for their audience, whether it's executive or whether it's project Teams is a book called The Pyramid Principle. It's a book by Barbara Minto.

She's an ex Big Four consultant and has written a book that describes how to take lots of information and present it in a way that can be understood by an executive level audience. And then the remnant detail that you need for other audiences can be packaged in a way that makes sense. So that's a really good way to think about writing anything. So it was good for me to think about it from that. But also I take some of those principles and apply them from when I'm working in corporates as well.

So that'd be one of the ones that I would talk about. I think another one I read recently that was really good was called Atomic Habits. Atomic Habits is a book that I read that talks about basically the science behind habit forming and behaviors. And it's not PMO specific or project specific, but the concepts in there were really useful from day to day, improving yourself as a professional in this industry and also learning about how other people's behaviors work and apply and things like that. So that will probably be another one that sort of immediately comes to mind.

And then probably one that I've most recently seen or got visibility of is one called being a Project Manager. Being a Project Manager. It's written by a couple of people that we're doing some work receive from Israel, and they actually have written a book that explains project management, but they use the concept of baking, which is really interesting, and I just think it's really like a fun play on words and the way that they've described it. That is the A to Z or project management that is really helpful for practitioners as well.

So there's three, but I'm sure there's plenty others, and I can definitely share some more in future.

Well, that's excellent. I think the three are great suggestions to have and definitely.

Okay, well.

I think we're up to the end, but we do have a little game to kind of end the series and we'll see how this goes. It's called the Rapid Fire questions. Basically, I will just ask you about 20 questions and you'll just have to give me a quick answer and we'll just have fun. Are you ready?

I can't promise we'll be quick.

But I will try. Okay. First one tea coffee or cocoa tea. What is the capital of Australia?

Oh, my God. You put me on the spot.

I don't know.


What is the capital of Levon? Who is your favorite superhero?

And why favorite superhero? Oh, God. I've always had a love for one woman. I don't know why, but I dressed up as her in secondary College and she's just inspiring in the way that she is. And it was just one of those ones that I watched in the early when the TV series was around and I was young and so it just was really inspiring to watch that.

So probably Wonder Woman. Excellent. What was the worst subject in school?


That's a tricky one. All of them. What was your favorite childhood injury?

I was a pretty good kid, so I didn't have too many injuries that I can actually remember if I'm honest, but probably the most memorable is when my father said to me, make popcorn on the big pot, and he said, don't touch it. And I said no, and then I touch and I've got a burn on my arms here from touching the top of the pot. So yeah, that was probably the most memorable.

That sounds like fun. What was your favorite story book when you were young?

I loved everything to do with Goosebumps by RL Sign because I liked the idea of picking your own ending. And so that was fun for me.

Strangest thing you've ever eaten.

I'd probably say ants like ants that were on top of the dessert in a fine dining restaurant. Apparently, apparently some sort of delicacy thing. Probably. I would say that it wasn't very nice if I'm honest.

I heard they were crunchy.

They are crunchy ice cream. So it was a bit harder to get the crunch.

How about vegetables? The one that you dislike the most Brussels sprouts. Love favorite fast food restaurant.

To be honest, probably. I would say it's a mix between McDonald's and Nando's because McDonald's has such quality. Like I feel like the quality compared to the others is quite up there. But Nando's also, I love Nando's menus.

What do you like in McDonald's?

I'm the type of person that always gets the same thing, and I usually get the MC Chicken burger.

The Mexican burger.


They have very good fries.

I always get a medium meal because I feel like it's the balance between very unhealthy large and moderately unhealthy small. I think it works like that, but at least I get a coach and no sugar, and I think helps with Calories.

Favorite cartoon character.

Favorite cartoon character.

Choose wisely because you have to mimic this one.

When I was young, we did a play with the Mario and Luigi brothers. I know in the cartoon games we used to play the Nintendo and things like that. So I used to love that side of things. So probably that. Or I'd probably say even Minnie Mouse just because she's so elegant. Any Mi mix? Definitely not. Okay.

Favorite flour.

It would have to be sunflower, sunflower, gorgeous.

The one item that you could never leave without.

My fine.

If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

Resourceful, patient and friendly?

What's the one thing you would like to change about yourself?

I'm very short. I'm very short. So on that side, I'll probably be a little bit taller. But yeah, to be honest, probably eliminate anxiety because I have anxiety, and it's something that's not fun for anyone. And Zappy doesn't get rid of that. I probably would. That would be the first thing.

Well, maybe it's working. It's working out.

Definitely improving, and I've gotten a lot better. I think having that gives me a great appreciation for what others might be going through. And it's something that probably made me improve me as well. But also, it means I've got a lot of self doubt and fear that can actually hold you back. And that focus on that can be quite tiring. Sometimes anxiety can be quite exhausting, I think, for anyone. And so if we can eliminate that, great. But life doesn't work like that. So we have to live with it and learn to manage it so it doesn't manage ourselves.

Okay. Best piece of advice received. So.

When I was early in my career, I used to in my first couple, two, three years, a manager said to me I was really upset because I remember saying, how am I going to get this role or that role? Am I going to climb this ladder? Am I going to do all these sort of things? And he said to me, when you think about some of the other people that you're talking about, that have been in the industry 20 years. He hears about himself. He said he's been in the industry 20 years, but the team goes 19 and a half of those years is practice.

So the first six months that for me, was like every time I go into a new role, I'm practicing my profession. And so it reminded me of that. It was more about not the years that matter. So I don't hire for the years of experience anymore. I hire for how you practically apply what you are doing and how you work rather than what you tell me you do. So that was really stood out for me. And he was a good manager.

How about the favorite sport? Your favorite sport at the moment? For the first time.

I am learning to swim. I couldn't swim and I nearly drowned in high school.

So swimming. Congratulations. If you like it. Is it fun?

It's fun. Very fun. I'm starting tomorrow for the first time in six months since Covet enabled us not to go for me. But yeah, I'm not good at it yet, but I'm learning. So I'm actually really enjoying that.

Okay, well, that's excellent. And the last one, do you play games on your mobile phone? And if, yes, what is your favorite game?

Absolutely not. I do not have any time to play games. Unfortunately, I would rather be playing on ideas that I can do for either my business or for developing things, et cetera. The one thing I do use on my phone a lot, and I use it pretty much every day is I use the Calm app and there's something in there that is called sleep stories. And the sleep stories are a really good way to wind down at the end of the day. So it's not a game, but it is something I use every day and find extremely helpful to get to bed and to turn off the chatter in the brain.

A lot of us who are running day to day and trying to frantically keep up with everything. So that's something I do use on my phone every day.

Well, that's excellent. And who knows, maybe in the future you would be thinking, even putting together the project management skills into a game potentially definitely got some ideas there.

I always say I said to my business mentor, I just need to find a billionaire investor that will invest in all of the ideas I've got, and I'm sure they'll be successful, but we just don't have a team large enough and also the budget or time available right now to do all the things that are on my crazy list of things to do. But I think there's 100 ideas also on my list. So I'm sure you'll see some more of that in the future.

That's excellent. I'm looking forward that wraps it up. Thank you for going through all these questions. Thank you for today. It was a really great conversation. Thank you so much for everything you shared for your openness. And we definitely would like to see you here soon and hear more about your progress and what you do. Do you have anything that you would like to say in the end.

I think for the first being the first one, I think.

Well done.

I think it's really great. And you're excellent host. I appreciate that made it really good. So that would be great. And the other thing is, I just guess if anyone is interested in knowing what's going on and what we've got coming up, make sure you're subscribed at our website to our mailing list. We will let you know about free resources, upcoming workshops, training all the things we're doing, blogs, et cetera through www. Dot agilemanagementoffice. Com. And also please check out www. Dot returnofpanda. Org, which is a new not for profiles in the mental health space.

For those that suffer from anxiety and people you know, that make that would definitely be really helpful for people to learn about some of the resources we've got there.

Excellent. Okay. Well, I definitely took note of that. Hopefully everybody else again. A pleasure having you today and being your host. Have a great rest of your day and weekend, and we'll be in touch.

Sounds good. Thanks.

Bye bye.