Project management in a digital world interview with Anna Cappi
Today, we are sitting down with Anna Cappi to talk more about Project Management – the ever-growing job role that seems to be taking over our job listings nowadays. Anna Cappi is both the course director and the primary teacher of the Project Management class at Talent Garden Rainmaking in Copenhagen. Anna has more than 15 years of experience managing diverse projects within different sectors, ranging from education to innovation and arts. She holds a PhD from Lund University and has been a lecturer at Paris VII and various business schools in Sweden, France and Denmark. Empathy, energy and experience are her key words when teaching. In this interview, we take the opportunity to ask Anna about how project management has evolved over the past few years, what has changed as the world becomes more digitalised and what project managers will face in the new post-COVID world.
What does it mean to have good project management skills and who can benefit the most from these skills?
A good project manager actually shares a lot of skills with a good CEO, which is why project management also offers excellent opportunities for career development. As a project manager you will need leadership skills, to motivate and organise your team; negotiation skills, to set realistic expectations and deadlines with stakeholders; scheduling skills, to plan a successful project that delivers quality results (without driving the team crazy); risk management skills, to be able to foresee obstacles and mitigate them beforehand and this is just to mention a few. Project managers truly have a variety of many different skills to make sure the job is done well. In fact, all of these are skills that are also useful in our personal lives or if we’d like to do our own ventures on the side.
And in general, everyone benefits from these types of skills no matter the industry or role. By adding project management skills to your professional and personal life, you will see the difference in how you approach all types of projects and challenges.
How has project management changed over the past 10 years?
Technology has, of course, changed project management, as well as everything else. Today, we have new tools for communication, making it possible to manage international projects with remote teams, for example. New software is also making our lives as project managers easier and more accessible, by helping us organise our work and also using AI and data to predict risks, know more about our stakeholders etc. This new type of “digital project management” is one of the focus areas in our course at Talent Garden Rainmaking here in Copenhagen. We strongly believe that smart working is the future (and this has been accelerated during the recent crisis) and that we will be in dire need of people who can manage projects that transcend physical meetings and that are synchronous.
Has project management changed in some way after COVID-19?
For us, in the startup/tech scene, it has been a sign that we have been doing the right thing, because we are adaptable, advancing in digitalisation and have already incorporated different types of working styles. So we had been long preparing ourselves for smart working options. With COVID-19 suddenly, the whole world found itself having to move projects online, working remotely with kids running around, while still having to keep up with deadlines and adapting to this new way of working. Most companies are still at the point where they are mimicking physical work and merely doing exactly what they were doing but online. There are still too many time-consuming meetings, unnecessary manual activities and people are still struggling to manage work during the same 8 hours as it was inside an office. I strongly believe that the next step for project management of the future will be much more individualised. We will work in our own personal rhythms (e.g. some will do some hours very early in the morning, others work best at night). And thanks to tools, software and the right attitude, mindset and knowledge, we will be able to all run towards and reach the same project goal and producing better results while also enhancing work-life balance.
When starting a new project, what are the most critical steps project managers should take?
The first thing you’ll want to do is to find out what problem or need it is you want to solve with your project. What is the end goal? Who are you doing it for? Once this is settled, you can start setting the scope and negotiating the expectations with various stakeholders. This is an incredibly important step that will determine the success of the project. Don’t over-promise but keep it inspiring and enthusiastic. It’s a tough balance and one you often learn with time and experience. This is also when you need to look at your dream team and what resources you actually have to work with. Is your team able to focus on the project at hand, or are they tied down by other work at the moment? Be realistic and aim for a team that loves working together and that have the energy and desire to dedicate themselves to your project. If they don’t feel the right level of “ownership”, they will not give their all making it frustrating for everyone involved.
What can someone expect from the Project Management Course happening in Talent Garden Rainmaking?
It’s a course designed for professionals of the future. The project management you will learn is digital, data-driven and tailored to a post-Covid19 world. It’s practical and fun, and your own ideas and learning process will stand at the centre. Long, tedious theoretical lectures don’t take place at Talent Garden. Our learning location is inside Talent Garden Rainmaking a place that is built on innovation and deeply connected to the digital and tech scene in Copenhagen. We share the space with 300+ entrepreneurs, who are all part of our vibrant community. We will have breakfasts with many startups, founders freelancers and digital professionals, hearing them pitch their products and tell us about how they work. Networking opportunities will be given, and you will be invited to all the events happening inside the house.
According to the Project Management Institute (PMI®), Project Management jobs are expected to grow globally by 33%, meaning 22 million new jobs. And with our new reality, the people filling these roles will need to be highly digital and prepared for working with new software programs and with a remote team.
If you would like to have the opportunities to learn futureproof project management skills, we have designed a six-week course for professionals who are currently unemployed. The course starts on the 19th of October at Talent Garden Rainmaking, Danneskiold-Samsøes Allé 41, 1434, København.
The classes are on Mondays and Wednesdays, 09:00-14:30. And throughout the six weeks, you will create a group project, and as a final examination, you will present it to a censor.
You can read more about the course here.