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Bournemouth University: Project Management Day 2021 - By Franco Guarrella - Blog

Bournemouth University: Project Management Day 2021 - By Franco Guarrella

On 13 January the Bournemouth University Project Management Day, an event that marks the multi-year collaboration between the Bournemouth University and the PMI UK Chapter, took place virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic instead of the usual on-campus event.

Project Management Day is dedicated to the development of the Project Management profession, combining presentations by distinguished speakers, a competitive exhibition of student work and networking opportunities. For 2021, the challenge was to design an entirely online event that would engage practitioners, educators, and students as successfully as in previous years. For the Signatories to the Manifesto for Responsible Project Management, 2021 marks the year for international focus on their mission and Bournemouth University Project Management Day.

Bournemouth University offers the first MSc Organisational Project Management, and their BA (Hons) Business Studies course incorporates an 'Operations and Project Management' track. This years' event also included two student competitions based on the theme of 'Working in a COVID World' for MSc student projects, and Responsible Project Management case studies written by the BA program final year students.

Dr Karen Thompson, Senior Academic Course Leader - MSc Organisational Project Management, and co-creator of Responsible Project Management was joined by Dr Shirley Thompson, Associate Director of mentoring for the PMI UK Chapter and facilitator of soft skills for coaches, project managers and technical leaders to guide the planning for this first-ever virtual event of its kind. 

Pros and cons of the new way of delivery

A key advantage of moving to an online format was accessibility for participants from around the world without the constraints of time and cost of travel to Bournemouth. Moving the time to 1700 GMT also enabled professionals to join outside of standard working hours.

Retaining audience engagement in online sessions can be a challenge which meant shortening the event duration and a redesign to support virtual attention span. In lieu of walking around a physical exhibition of displays, this year's event included online viewing of work submitted by students.

A critical feature of past events had been the feedback students received on their work from professionals. Interaction time was incorporated into the online format by adding dedicated, two-way feedback between students and professionals along with live Q&A.

The judging panel and process

A judging panel was created comprising members of PMI UK Chapter, APM and other project professionals. This year's competition included two categories:

Category 1:Projects designed and executed by teams of students from the MSc Organisational Project Management programme (9 entries)

Category 2:Responsible Project Management Case Studies written by final-year undergraduate students from the BA (Hons) Business Studies with Operations and Project Management (4 entries)

Teams entering Category 1 submitted a 5-minute video overviewing their project and how it was managed. Category 2 entrants submitted a case study presented by a poster and a blog post. The judges reviewed the submissions in both categories prior to the live event.

To uniformly evaluate student work, the judges were provided with a spreadsheet listing each category's evaluation criteria and instructions for entering their scores. Merv Wyeth, PMI UK Chapter Director of Branches and Leader of the Digital Events Team, incorporated the use of Mentimeter, an audience engagement and results visualization tool, to collect and share the judging result.


The Zoom platform was used to host the event for over 100 live participants. Dr Karen Thompson and Dr Nigel Williams, researcher from Portsmouth University and co-creator of Responsible Project Management led a discussion about the competencies needed to manage projects responsibly. They used Padlet software to capture feedback. The results can be viewed here.

The judges and attendees were given the opportunity to meet the students and discuss their work using Zoom 'Breakout Rooms.' Plenty of time was provided for participants to move between rooms and take a short break for a cup of tea, away from their screens.

Smart Cities: What do we do for London?

While the competition results were being finalised, participants enjoyed a presentation from our distinguished guest speaker, Yohan Abrahams. Yohan is a past-president of the PMI UK Chapter and Director of Projects for Transport for London, Yohan Abrahams, on the topic "Smart cities: What do we do for London?" 

Cities have become our preferred living environment with the World Bank predicting that by 2050, seven of every ten of us will live in urban surroundings. Currently, cities generate 80% of global GDP and account for 75% of the world's energy usage.


Cities also attract quite a lot of investment aimed to solve common challenges including air pollution, traffic congestion, affordable housing and reducing greenhouse emissions.

Yohan has spent the last decade working in cities on portfolios as diverse as law enforcement, professional services, London's world-renowned financial services and currently at Transport for London, operator of the world's oldest underground transport network. He has experienced first-hand how these areas of London's economy do the right projects and do projects right.

Investment in change creates many opportunities for project management professionals. What are the skills and competencies to deliver projects in cities successfully? Many of the challenges cities face are so complicated that they can only be solved through a collaborative approach. They can only be solved through innovative thinking because we have not faced them before.

And we use data in a big way to resolve these challenges and seize opportunities. We have come up with a term to identify cities that use technology and creative thinking to enhance urban services' quality and performance: We call them Smart Cities.

At this session, Yohan presented some of the critical projects in the Air Quality and Environment portfolio that Transport for London delivers on behalf of the Mayor of London and the project management structures and process that they have evolved to keep one of the excellent Smart Cities of the world moving and growing. 

Yohan's presentation complemented the educational/professional purpose of the day which was two-fold

  • -For students to learn from experts and practitioners about project management in the real world
  • -For project professionals to review student work and understand their potential impact on Bournemouth University, and it's locality

Both groups acknowledged how career development is enriched through the two-ways transfer of project management knowledge, between members of PMI UK Chapter and higher education institutions, such as Bournemouth University. 

Winners! 

At the end of the event, the judging panel's verdict on winners and runners-up were announced.

Projects designed and executed by teams of students from Bournemouth University MSc Organisational Project Management programme

Winner: Team Go-Cashless

Members: Vinu Babu, Elliott Shepherd-Gonzalez, Talal Abu-Rumman, Sai Kumar Gogam, Henry Elege

Runner-Up: Team Delta "Isolation Rejuvenation" Mental Well-being Pack for Students

Members: Elliott Shepherd Gonzalez, Agnieska Rseszowska, Bobby Wairata, Phoebe Keith.

RPM Case Studies written by final-year undergraduate students from Bournemouth University BA (Hons) Business Studies with Operations and Project Management

Winner: Joe McNiel with the Case Study: The London 2012 Olympics

Runner-Up: Harry Browning with the Case Study: Northumberland Project

The students were congratulated on their fine achievement and awarded a complimentary one-year PMI UK Chapter membership, certificates of recognition, and a copy Your WoW! A Disciplined Agile Delivery Handbook for Optimising Your Way of Working

The event formally concluded with an interactive chat among attendees, facilitated questions presented to Yohan, and Dr Karen Thompson's closing remarks. PMI members holding a PMP credential earned two PDUs to support their continuing education requirements and an attendee satisfaction survey was circulated to capture attendee feedback and plan future events. Results

About the author: Franco Guarrella 

Franco is an Engineer whose career in the Oil and Gas Sector has transitioned from design engineering to Project Management. From Project Engineer to Project Manager and eventually Managing Director of a major international engineering and construction company.

Franco founded the PMI Rome Italy Chapter and served it for several years as its President. He currently serves as PMI UK Finance Director and South Committee Chair. 

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