Advances in Complex Project Leadership
BY ERIC ROSS
© 2018 FrontLine Defence (Vol 13, No 3)

If your responsibilities include complex project leadership, the best place to be on May 8th was at the annual seminar on Advances in Complex Project Leadership organized by the University of Ottawa – Telfer School of Management’s Master of Business in Complex Project Leadership Program (MBCPL). According to one student, the value of this seminar was evident from the perspective of “making sure your team is built with people that have the right experience and the right competencies.” Another student take-away was the advice to “clearly communicate your performance requirements and provide opportunities for stakeholders to clarify those requirements when they’re not sure.”

The seminar was not only a resource for the Master’s candidates themselves, but also an informative and educational event for government and industry leaders in attendance. Strategic insights were shared by accomplished leaders who discussed how they’ve adapted their decision-making abilities and knowledge of global best practices to tackle some of the most dynamic and interesting complex projects in the Infrastructure, Information Management, Health and Defence sectors.

Among the high profile government leaders, Canada’s Chief of the Defence Staff, General Jonathan Vance spoke on important aspects of leadership and having the courage to tackle dynamic problems head-on, by making tough decisions. Mr. Roch Huppé, Comptroller General of Canada, related how investment planning is a foundational element when it comes to complex projects. He also mentioned some of the typical areas complex projects stumble and how imperative it is for every member of a project to understand their role, who the stakeholders are, as well as ensuring a challenge system is in place to test those assumptions.

A host of industry leaders also shared their own unique insights within this intimate setting. Rob Pattison, Senior VP of Light Rail Transit for Infrastructure Ontario, delved into Alternative Financing and Procurement, as well as Output Specification practices, in relation to the Eglinton Light Rail Transit development. 

Tim Banfield, the Director of the Nichols Group spoke about the efforts to improve the delivery of the UK Government’s major projects. 

Informative presentations were also made by Dave Monahan, Project Manager of the Halifax Class Modernization (HCM) Frigate Life Extension project for the Department of National Defence, and Bob Pask, Program Manager for the Halifax Class Modernization (HCM) CSI DAB project at Lockheed Martin Canada, Rotary and Mission Systems. Each highlighted key takeaways on the methodology and project management processes that successfully delivered extremely complex information management systems (including Combat System sensors as part of the Halifax Class Frigate modernization project) on time and on budget. 

From the medical sector, Dr. Glen Geiger, Chief Medical Information Officer and Medical Lead of Project Fusion for Ottawa Hospital, offered his perspective on tackling a behemoth IM IT program. He discussed the procurement approach to the common Hospital Information System that the Ottawa Hospital and Partners had purchased in 2017. He also shared insight into change management and governance gained from the first 6 months of the planned 20-month implementation process.

The success of this event (many more chairs had to be added at the back of the room) opened the door to a larger public event to build on the strengths evident this year. Mark your calendar for the first week in May 2019 to attend the premiere “public” event in the field of complex project education at the Telfer School of Management. 

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Eric Ross, Opus Scroll Inc.
More information about Telfer’s Master of Business in Complex Project Leadership can be found at: www.telfer.uottawa.ca/en/cpl

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