Masters in Major Programme Management
Upon reflection, May was a very busy month in the most satisfactory way. We have formed strong professional and personal friendships over the course of the last 10 months, supporting each other during modules and remotely. It is difficult to imagine a more hardworking, interactive and fun-loving group of people to be assembled in one course! After undertaking a balancing act of a yoga holiday in India, I was very relaxed returning to studies for Module 4.
The course organisers have arranged a very thorough selection of teachers. In addition to our core team of commendable lecturers it was exciting to be taught by Professor Paolo Quattrone of University of Edinburgh, Stephen Bedwood of HSBC, Peter Madden of Arcadis and Fiona Spencer of the Home Office during the Module 4 alone. I have met Fiona and Peter at the MPM Conference in 2016 and was particularly excited to be taught by them. One would think, this was already intense for a 4-day programme, but our class took it one step further to attend a guest lecture on cyber security with Sir David Omand followed by a dinner with our beloved Prof. Bent Flyvbjerg and Dr. Atif Ansar at St John’s College. In a culmination of the Financial Management week, we have been addressed by a former Nigerian Minister for Finance, Trade and Investment, Olusegun Olutoyin Aganga during a formal dinner at a beautiful site of St. Hugh’s College. Many left Oxford following the dinner, to return to their families in the UK and abroad. Those who stayed are rumoured to have been seen at college balls.
One of the great benefits of reading a Masters in Oxford is access to networks, events and professionals, which creates opportunities for professional development. Some of you may know about links of Saïd Business School and the UK’s Major Projects Association (MPA). In the recent few months, following my decision to leave the private education sector, I have planned to get immersed in the world of megaprojects using MPA’s resources. On the 9th of May, MPA took us on an insightful site visit to Tideway, the new 25-kilometre interception, storage and transfer Thames Tideway Tunnel. We travelled by boat from Westminster Pier to see major works that are taking place from a river perspective.
The trip was led by Community Engagement Managers from Tideway, who told us many interesting facts about history, bridges and buildings on Thames. We have discussed power of politics in making major projects happen, the power of Great Stink in London’s case. 24 construction sites, including tanks, pumps, foreshores, depots, main and connection tunnels later I found myself in a complete awe with complexity of delivering transitional and lasting legacy for London’s sewerage network, which is almost 150 years old.
Following my new career development, on the 11th of May, I have taken part in a Major Project Simulator Workshop, organised by MPA. We were allocated into groups of four, and provided a scenario case study. After devising our Gantt chart, the team have been trying to stay on the top of managing risk, contractors, stakeholders, budgets and schedule while delivering a new state-of-the-art football stadium for the city of Birmingham. Sounds easy? Well, it wasn’t even for our expert team with project managers from Saïd Business School, Gatwick, Siemens and Fluor! Nevertheless, 4 hours later, following many negotiations and firefighting with virtual board, advisors, locals and fans, we have completed our project on time, on budget, rated high by all stakeholders. Our team’s stakeholder management strategy and realistic approach to risks and kept everyone happy, while a composed approach to risk management kept us on budget.
Finally, after many years of coaching colleagues and students, I have felt it was the time to get a mentor too. Our cohort’s career rep, has advised me to approach David Baty, who provides talent development and coaching at Oxford University. For someone who is used to relying on myself, the career development session we held was extremely helpful: we have together clarified my goals, means and determinants on the way to achieving them, and finally necessary steps for the near and distant future. I am very much looking forward the next session and making a lot of progress with investigating opportunities.
June is expected to be exciting with numerous lectures at Saïd Business School, career coaching and a search for a great fit in the world of megaprojects!
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