Masters in Major Programme Management
Last week, I finally managed to take a much overdue ride on the Elizabeth Line or, for those of us who have worked on the project, what will be forever and fondly known as Crossrail.
For such a long time, those of us who have contributed to the project held our breath as the programme suffered delays moving into the systems integration stage. Having long suppressed the pride on working on such a transformational piece of infrastructure, we can finally celebrate!
Taking that journey from Paddington in the delightfully and much needed air-conditioned carriage, I had an arguably very short time to reflect and unpack the learning from last module, ‘Stakeholder and Governance’, and apply it to a different project.
There are lots of theories on Stakeholder Management for Major Programmes. Jergeas et al. (2000) outlines that stakeholders’ judgement determines whether a project is a success. If stakeholders’ perceptions are greater than the facts (Henisz, 2014) and Karlsen’s (2002) empirical research identified clients and end users as the most significant stakeholders, are we focusing on the right parties and stakeholder engagement approaches?
Crossrail had plenty of stakeholders, which ones did they often focus on and try to influence? What does success looks like for the user? And do we have diverse enough teams working on these projects to deliver infrastructure for society now and in the future?
Previously, service reliability to get around on time and clear wayfinding were most critical. Now, as a new mother, step-free access and air conditioning so that we can stay cool amidst the current heatwave are likewise.
Since the Elizabeth Line’s opening, like many other infrastructure projects, the delays incurred pale against the new service offering (which will only improve as Bond Street and Paddington to Reading open).
I’m sure there will be many lessons learnt emerging over the coming years for Crossrail which Major Programme Managers should take onboard to improve future infrastructure projects. It’s important that we do so as the ‘projectification’ of society is anticipated to continue to increase.
The age-old adage of ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ really fits and bears MPMs asking: ‘what is beautiful to our users?’.
One of my previous managers was fortunate enough to participate in the Major Projects Leadership Academy (MPLA) which is also developed and operated by Saïd Business School. It came highly recommended and played a key role in my considering the MSc in Major Programme Management as it has a similar curriculum.
Like many of my peers, falling into project and later programme management as my second career from civil engineering happened naturally through exposure delivering projects. Having spent over a decade working on major programmes and with a desire to improve how we deliver projects, I saw the MSc in Major Programme Management as an opportunity to provide different perspectives on how to approach delivery.
It’s been more than that though, as each of the modules has been insightful not just on what we have learnt, but what we have reflected on from our own lived experiences. You could say its cathartic, reflective learning is incredibly powerful.
Last but not least, are the relationships made both on site at Oxford and in between modules, as we banded together to get each assignment over the line. The 50+ of us have learned so much from each other’s international and vast experience.
Imminently, it’s Module 5 and ‘Commercial Leadership!’ The MMPM is a part-time masters which has allowed me to fit work, play and a new family alongside further education.
The school has also been very supportive. The hybrid approach employed earlier this year allowed me to continue to attend the modules virtually instead of deferring modules so I could take best care of my new-born from home.
The combination of case studies, academics and learning from peers on the course is already providing ideas for how I can improve and contribute to the positive outcomes of future major projects. The answer to the question of whether they are successful however, will depend on your perspective… hopefully all stakeholders will answer similarly!Back to top of article