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PD Day: Highlighting How PMs Make a Difference on Every Scale

Event Highlight


In November the Ontario PMI Chapters presented another successful Professional Development Day to a virtual audience. This year we welcomed PM speakers from different industries and even different parts of the world. The day was jam-packed with insights, advice, and success stories from all the speakers. Audiences were kept engaged using the various features on the platform before and after speakers’ sessions including network opportunities. Below we highlight the main takeaways each speaker’s session covered that every project management professional needs to know. If you missed out on this memorable event, remember to keep an eye out for news of PD Day 2022.



What an honour to have Dr. Derreck Kayongo as November’s PD Day keynote speaker. His enthusiasm and project management knowledge impacted the entire audience. Dr. Kayongo walked through his life and career journey featuring photos of family, friends, and himself. He spoke about how and why he started the Global Soap project. He started the project as a sense of service and of wanting to give girls and women a better life. He also brought this project to be regulated by the US so that soap was never underutilized again and distributed to those who needed it as a matter of survival. Global Soap reprocessed and distributed soap from hotels to vulnerable populations worldwide. Now part of Clean the World—a global health leader—they took the initiative started by Dr. Kayango and deliver support and services to support children and families in areas that have high rates of hygiene-related sicknesses.

The talk also captured the idea of shifting one’s ideas and taking a different path—perhaps one that is far different than planned. We have all undergone a shift due to the pandemic and Dr. Kayongo encourages us to embrace it and develop new strategies of developing ideas. The shift management approach can lead to something that was once impossible into the probable.



The world is increasingly shifting toward projectization, and new ways of working are getting priority across all sectors and geographic regions. In times of enormous change, the value of effective project management has never been greater than today. Ike Nwankwo, Board Director at the Project Management Institute, spoke about the current landscape of project management. In the face of this continuous change, navigating and leveraging change, not simply reacting to it, is exactly what project professionals need to cultivate. Ike highlighted the long-term trends—accelerating in the wake of COVID-19—profoundly transforming the future of work itself, from evolving demographics around the globe to revolutions in how we use technology. These paradigm shifts place significant pressure on organizations and governments to ensure their relevance and operate with dramatically more agile—or even "gymnastic"—approaches. As a result, professionals worldwide also need to upgrade their capabilities and develop the right mix of technical and "power skills" to effectively lead teams and turn ideas into reality. He also shared some key insights from PMI's most recent global survey of project professionals, "The Pulse of the Profession." The findings also endorse that project management's value has perhaps never been greater than today.



Have you ever led a team without being in a position of authority? Do you even need to be in a leadership position to influence others? Chris Pennington walks us through how to lead without authority and getting things accomplished. How we focus our minds, set our goals, and perceive the world are key elements to understanding influence and authority. We should approach influencing others in a positive way so that any resistance to change we encounter requires a good outlook to move things forward. In thinking of authority most of us think of people in positions of that wield power and this sets an unconscious notion of authority. There are many ways to influence without being granted the authority. For instance, body language and behaviour are ways in which we can claim authority. Our passion, focus, and approach all lend themselves to subconsciously lead without authority. So how do we do this? Make sure you take time to understand, listen, and empathize with others. Collaborate with others so they feel included, be passionate about your ideas, interests and that will drive how others feel. Lastly, be accountable and follow-up. It is crucial to invest time in ourselves as well. You will be influencing others before you know it.



Every day we live through the global pandemic we ask ourselves what will the new normal be like? How can we as project professionals build on what we have learned through these last few years and obtain success. Mohammad Aslam Mirza presented an important framework to overcome the challenges we have faced during these uncertain times. Our mindset needs to shift overall, and we must shift from simply survival mode to becoming more resilient. It is within our reach to move away from passive approaches and become leaders with a new frame of mind. The discussion was enlightening on many levels. Understanding and facing the challenges, taking stock of what is important, facing our fears, and moving toward a positive outlook and embracing agile methodologies will allow project professionals to thrive.



Lydia Liberio discussed how the make-up of teams has shifted and that the variations of teams can lead to optimal results. Diversity has cross-generational appeal. Inclusion is powerful and can build strong partnerships when we listen and ask for different opinions. Every generation has different priorities and ways of approaching their projects. Younger generations of project professionals often look to those with more experience to gain insights and then formulate their own approaches to tackling projects. The next generation of project professionals will learn and adapt from the generations before and learn to carve out a path for themselves to find success in both life and career.



Shivani Gupta taught listeners how to build up a new PMO and make it run successfully. As a PMO provides value to organizations—e.g., centralized project oversight—how do you make one where it didn't exist before? Her advice? Follow PMBOK’s standardized approach and form a project to build a PMO! Answering four questions: Where are we now? Where do we want to be? What do we need to do? Can we maintain? and continuously managing stakeholder expectations are the keys to your success.

As we advance through our project, and building our PMO, we must ensure we are set up for sustained performance. Maintaining the PMO is key to ensuring a sustainable and lasting impact in your organization. Utilizing the tools, policies, and procedures available, measure the ongoing progress against your original vision, and adjust as needed to enable your new PMO to become a “living organization”.



In the last couple of years, we have been struggling with many unknowns in our lives, work, and in the world. Nadine Fortin, President PMI OVAC, presented how stress and uncertainty first starts within us and worked with us to understand how to approach and face that stress, turn it into a positive, and then reinforce a shift to lead teams toward success. She guided the audience through a breathing exercise that enabled us to take a moment to pause, relax, and mediate. Sometimes during stressful times, it is so important to stop and take a breath to refocus and adjust. Nadine explored how as project management professionals we can lead and inspire teams to stay sane, so business continues as usual during challenging times. VUCA—volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity—is the reality of what we face today. During the talk we learned to approach VUCA by increasing our awareness, identifying the needs from your teams, and using various tools to move projects forward. One of the tools introduced included the fear loop that creates negative self-talk, the feeling—or fear—of not being heard, which in turn becomes negative behaviour. When fear and stress happen within us and it disrupts our magnetic field, we must take a step back—or a deep breath—and become aware of the fear, recognize it, and change it into a positive emotion. Leading a team or taking care of others first means taking care of yourself. Only then can we assist/lead others. So, take time for you, give yourself a break, and see how your positivity will enable you to lead and inspire your team.



Transformation is sustainable change occurring in an organization that improves performance and changes the mindset of the employees, ultimately, changing the culture of the company.

Are you making a transformation? Do you have the resources in place to successfully execute it? Studies show that failed transformation is responsible for waste & loss on projects, such as demotivated employees, wasted investments, unsuccessful projects, and more.

Tahirou Assane introduced Brightline, a PMI initiative which works with leading global organizations and academic partners to help executives implement successful transformation initiatives. The “Compass” provides guidance to make transformations successful. It takes you through the steps such as “begin with a clear vision (a ‘North Star’), align the goal with customer, insights, and trends” to set your direction. It also helps answer questions like, “How do you know when your transformation has succeeded?”, “Do you have a champion to drive your change?”, and more. Following the lessons of the people-centred compass can enable you to successfully embark on transformation.



It is human nature to not focus on our personal selves in an effort to become successful professionals. Certainly, we will find some professional success on this journey, but we overlook our personal development. Parash Sharma of the PMI Los Angeles Chapter led the discussion on self-reflection to identify who we are and how we can improve by achieving mastery or self-development to accomplish anything we want in our life—physically, emotionally, or spiritually. We have immense power within us, but until and unless we understand who we are and tap into that power, that power lies dormant within us. It is essential to find one's passion. One can develop personal mastery by using the same principle of project management. Like any other project, one has to create one's vision and set one's scope first, leading towards personal mastery. Planning is essential; once the plan is completed, it needs to be broken down to the lowest level of detail, where one can execute individual items. During the execution stage, one needs to ensure that the plan's value is being delivered, measured, and adjusted accordingly, along with managing risks.



Diverse teams increase productivity throughout organizations. PMI is a recognized global leader that believes diversity enriches and empowers teams. Megan Speight, DEI Manager for PMI, spoke passionately about the work PMI continues to do to make a difference to project professionals around the world. Knowledge is power and by providing tools, resources, open discussions, and even surveys amongst employees—at PMI or your own organization—everyone has the opportunity for growth and further understanding. PMI works to bring awareness by partnering with communities and PMI Chapters with DEI programs. Statistically, the more diverse teams are, the more their project value increases—culturally and gender diverse teams and geographically diverse teams—resulting in over 80% of value-add. From having uncomfortable conversations to understanding unconscious bias it is critical to make a positive turn and become more aware. Go ahead make a change, be an ally, and be true to who you are.

We can change the world and make it a better place. It is in your hands to make a difference.”

—Nelson Mandela



We learned how AI is being used today in projects to improve performance and deliver better results. Applying AI tools can lead to outcomes such as increased project success rate and capability, higher customer satisfaction and even lower project costs!

Paul Boudreau took the opportunity to demonstrate AI tools in the market that a) use historical project performance to predict the likelihood of success for new projects; b) use natural language processing to scan all project documentation and ‘score’ the completeness of a scope description or create cost, and duration estimates; c) apply sentiment analysis to confirm that messaging in project meetings was well-understood, and more. He even suggested linking Siri or Alexa to your project schedule, for example, to keep track of project progress.

Fundamental to the success of using these tools, was that good data is key (quality, integrity, consistent formats, and timely updates).

Concluding Thoughts

The Cross Ontario Professional Day was another great success. Special thanks to all the speakers, moderators, volunteers, and attendees for making this a great day.




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