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Giving back is Winning for Atkins' Graduate Consultants

Posted by Abeera Alam
Posting date:6/10/2021 10:29 AM
APM Project Management Challenge: Congratulations to our winners!

Meet Emily, Alex, Marina, Jordan, Zoe and Bethan, or 'Team Flourish,' six graduate consultants from Atkins, a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group. We're so proud of their recent win at the Association for Project Management Awards.

Zoe: How working in Atkins prepared us for the challenge
 
"The variety of work the team has gained at Atkins meant we all had different experiences and strengths. We were able to draw on our individual technology skills alongside our experience with stakeholder management and bring this together to deliver our project. In addition, our APM project management fundamentals qualification enabled us to draw on best practice project management and delivery."

Making a difference in people's lives.

This year's Project Management Challenge was to deliver and implement a successful local charity or community project. The team was drawn to Bristol charity, Brainwave. It's a project that helps transform the lives of children with conditions like autism, cerebral palsy and Down's Syndrome through specialist therapies.

Brainwave's original goal was to deliver a digital Whole Family Support platform, increasing engagement with current and future families. After considering the impacts of COVID-19, Brainwave changed the scope to a Digital Brochure which needed a fast turnaround.

Emily: Managing the Team

"As the project manager (PM), I recognised that the success of the project relied on us working together effectively. We embraced our diversity of thinking, experience, and skills to get the most out of our performance. I encouraged the team to share our thoughts and challenge assumptions to develop ideas. Everyone helped by adopting active listening, open questioning and displaying emotional intelligence.

"Because the team was small, I adopted a democratic, collaborative leadership style. This provided direction while supporting team members to deliver their best work and participate in project decisions. It helped achieve group consensus and drive our shared vision and mission. I also felt it was important to provided regular feedback, which kept us all engaged and feeling our efforts were being acknowledged.

"Working remotely presented a new challenge for us as a team. I had to consider the impact this would have. We communicated more frequently and used digital tools to help us connect and collaborate. In these settings, the PM role became more of a facilitator to ensure everyone within the team was heard. I also focussed on team health in a virtual setting. We assessed this each week through informal group exercises, gathering feedback on our moods and workloads from other commitments."

Zoe: Challenging ourselves to find new solutions

"The project's biggest challenge was having a change of scope during the delivery phase of our project. This change meant we had to adapt quickly to meet customer requirements. This is increasingly important in Project Delivery where Net Zero and Technology are driving big change across the world."

Marina: Trusted to own the project

"Our team managed all aspects of the project, from client engagement and scope definition, to product development and handover. It was great having this trust and freedom. It meant we were empowered to make important decisions and drive the direction of the project, suiting Brainwave's unique needs of an effective, digital solution."

Team Flourish's robust project management met the tight deadline, much to the delight of Brainwave, who are proudly using it on their website.

"We have really enjoyed working with Team Flourish over the past few months. They worked well together as a team, communicating well with us throughout the project. The third lockdown meant that we could not go ahead with the original goals of the project. Despite this, the team was very adaptable and worked with us to find a solution. We are extremely pleased with the digital brochure, and it will make a huge difference to the charity." 
Emma James, Brainwave Corporate Partnerships Manager

Alex: Mentorship during the project

"Our project mentor and sponsor, Jackie and Paul respectively, offered invaluable support throughout and were eager to offer guidance wherever possible. Their advice at some of the more challenging points was particularly appreciated, notably when we experienced major scope change due to the constraints of COVID-19. 

"They helped us navigate this issue and use best-practice to manage the change control process. We also reached out to Team Aztec, last year's Atkins APM Challenge winners. They were keen to share some of their knowledge. Their perspectives and lessons learned helped us know what to expect and apply these in our project."

Beth: What did we learn?

"By the handover of the project, our team had learnt three key things: the use of key project management tools, scope management and the change control process, and virtual stakeholder management. Since we had a significant change of scope at the start of delivery, we quickly learnt the importance of an adaptable mindset and being open to change."

"When managing stakeholders, we learnt how to plan and maintain effective communication, manage conflict – all virtually. As well as understanding different interests and influences of involved parties, and how these may change during a project."

Jordan: Calling Atkins Graduates to get involved!

"I would highly recommend anyone new to Atkins and interested in developing their project management skills to get involved in the APM challenge. It provides an excellent opportunity to learn project fundamentals and enhance additional professional skills while working with fellow graduates. Team Flourish (2020/2021 Winners) and Team Aztec (2019/2020 Winners) are more than happy to support and guide next years' team!"

Well done, Team Flourish!
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