[00:00:06.470] - Announcer
Do you wonder if others are dealing with the same project management challenges as you not sure where to turn for guidance and leadership. Office Hours are in session as we discuss project Management and PMOs with global leaders sharing their story and learning their secrets to success. Our goal is to empower you and help you elevate your PMO and project management career to new heights. Welcome back to Project Management Office Hours with your host, Kia Mojo.
[00:00:36.550] - PMO Joe
Welcome, everyone, to Project Management Office Hours. We're the number one live project management show in the United States. And today we're broadcasting to you from the Phoenix business, Radioactive Studios in Tempe, Arizona. I'm your host, PMO Joe. And for the next hour or so, we're going to be talking project management with our special guest. Hard to believe that it's February 1 month is gone already for this year. Time is flying and hopefully everybody's had an opportunity to watch our live stream events for the first shows that we've done on this year. And we are now, I don't know, experienced a little bit on the live streams, feeling a little bit more comfortable. So we'll see how the rest of the shows go as well. I also want to say thank you to the PMI Phoenix chapter. They hosted me last Friday for their January breakfast kick off meeting, and that was a lot of fun. We talked about the project management journey and how organizations and PMOs mature as they move through that journey. So that was a great show, so thank you for that. Also, I want to mention that coming up in February, on the 22nd here in a few weeks, the PMO Leader platform is going to be hosting a panel discussion on the digital transformations webinar that's going to include America Pinto, Laura Bernard, and myself as the panelists.
[00:02:06.130] - PMO Joe
So that's going to be a fun time. First time ever that America. Laura and I have actually shared the stage together, so I'm Super excited to be with them and that's going to be a lot of fun. I also want to thank our sponsors, of course, the PMO Squad and the PMO Leader. Without them, none of this is possible. Certainly go out and visit their website to learn more about all they have to offer and how they can help you in your career growth and development. Reminder, we are live streaming for those who are out there and watching the show. If you have questions or want to interact with Luis or I, please feel free to ask the questions. I can't guarantee we'll get to all of them, but if you do ask, we certainly will try to get to them and make this be an interactive experience for everybody. So with that, I'm Super excited today to have with us from Australia, Luis Gardner. Welcome, Louise.
[00:03:02.530] - Louise Gardner
[00:03:04.210] - PMO Joe
If you can take a moment just to introduce yourself so everybody out there gets to know you a little bit better. That would be fantastic.
[00:03:11.770] - Louise Gardner
Sure. First of all, I want to say I'm Super pumped to be here. I'm a long time fan of the show, so thank you for having me on. I'm Louise Gardner. I'm the founder and managing director of Pledge Consulting. I set up the business in 2012, so almost ten years ago now, really, because I was super passionate about helping organizations to get value from the way they manage projects and in particular, value from PMOs. I was client side for about 15 years before I started the business. I had a range of senior management roles in large companies, so I'd seen a lot of consultant activity, good consultants and bad consultants. And I got to a point where I thought I need to have a crack at this. I think there's a lot of value that can be had. Other thing to note about me, you might tell by the accent, I'm not originally Australian, although I am a very proud Australian now.
[00:04:07.570] - Louise Gardner
I'm from Liverpool in the north of England.
[00:04:10.550] - Louise Gardner
And I've been here almost 18 years, so the accent is obviously not going anywhere.
[00:04:16.030] - PMO Joe
Well, thank you so much for joining us and certainly appreciate you taking time. I know it's your beginning of your Friday end of our Thursday over here for those watching, and you see me wearing a bit of a sweatshirt. It's our winter in Phoenix, which usually means instead of being hot, it's just warm. But today it was actually cold this morning. It was zero degrees Celsius, 32 when I helped take the kids to school. So it was a bit chilly for us. I'm not used to the cooler temperatures. I know it's summertime for you over there now, right?
[00:04:50.140] - Louise Gardner
Yes. Beautiful here. Actually, it's a little bit cooler today. We've had a run of kind of 35 deg days, so borderline a little bit too hot. Sorry to rub it in, but I had a Facebook memory pop up this morning. And actually nine years ago today, I was actually in Scottsdale for Super Bowl Sunday.
[00:05:05.530] - Louise Gardner
And there's a huge, big power outage.
[00:05:07.290] - Louise Gardner
So we missed the Super Bowl, which not being a huge fan, of course, didn't trouble me too much. But it was warm. We were in the pool. So, yes, it's cold for Phoenix.
[00:05:19.100] - PMO Joe
Well, the Super Bowl will be back in Phoenix again next year. So come on back. We'll get together, invite everybody, whoever's listening, come on out for the Super Bowl. And then for those on the live stream, pop in the comments. Just let us know where you're joining us from, Australia or state or anywhere in between. It'd be good to know where you're joining us from. Let's start with maybe a little bit of your story before we jump into the PMO type topics. You mentioned it in your introduction that you're originally one of the Beatles and you're from Liverpool. Maybe not. Maybe one of the fan club members who knows but you're in Australia, so how did that happen? Right? How do you make that journey from the UK to Australia?
[00:06:02.130] - Louise Gardner
Yeah. Look, it was never really part of the plan. I didn't really have a plan. I was kind of a bit of a directionless kind of teenager.
[00:06:11.810] - Louise Gardner
I dropped out of school in year eleven.
[00:06:14.260] - Louise Gardner
I was just about 17. I was pretty smart, but I was bored with school. There was a world out there that I felt like I needed to engage in. So I had a series of jobs, let's call them. I work in a recording studio, actually, while I finished school as well. That was quite fun and it went downhill from there. I did a stint at the local KFC, worked in a bar, worked in a car rental place, and eventually I fell into actually a call center job with a water company. And back in those days, you didn't read off a script when you worked in a call center, you actually had to know how to solve people's problems. So they gave us such great training. If somebody called up and said, hey, we've got no water, we have to learn what the causes of that might be and do diagnostics on the phone with the customer. So I was in that job for about twelve months and kind of enjoyed it. But I enjoyed the learning more than the kind of social interaction that got old quite quick, people ringing up angry every day. So I saw an internal job advertised for a project controller.
[00:07:25.650] - Louise Gardner
Now, I had no clue what a project controller did. I had no clue really what a project was. I went for this interview and I don't know if I was the only person that applied for the job. The competition must not have been fierce, but I got the job and the really cool thing about that is that the guy that gave me the job, he went on to become quite good friends. He taught me everything he knew. He was a civil engineer. He was probably in his 50s at that time. He was really a mentor and he taught me everything he knew about Project controls. Pmo. I begin to get very passionate about the discipline of structuring governance around projects. A bit unusual in some ways because a lot of people become project managers and then go into PMO. I actually started off in PMO and then actively started trying to get project manager roles because I felt like you can't properly govern projects unless you've had the credibility of delivering some. So I went off and did a few delivery roles and ended up running that team. Actually, several years later, about six years later, I ended up managing that team.
[00:08:40.570] - Louise Gardner
So I became the Project Controls manager. The projects that we weren't working on were huge multimillion pound projects, civil, mechanical, electrical projects, some It and technology projects. So there was a huge learning experience for me I got my hands into everything. We implemented Ppm tools, we put in new risk structures. We did a lot of contractor management. So I was able to work closely with the big constructors, big global constructors, which was great experience for everything that was going to come after. And then after a couple of years we've been in that role, which really was kind of a dream job for me. I really felt like I'd found my niche. So professor, the company, I should say as well, sponsored me to go back through uni. I realized very quickly when I found my place in the world, to advance any further probably needed to go and finish my education. So the company supported me. I went to Liverpool University and then Liverpool John Moore's University and finished a Bachelor of Business degree. The company let me do it part time. It was so supportive. If I hadn't come to Australia, I don't know if I would have ever been able to leave that company because I never seem to exhaust the opportunities.
[00:10:03.310] - Louise Gardner
So that was all great professionally, but personally I wasn't in such a great spot. So I renovated a house, so that had been like a five year project. And that comes to the end. I finished my degree, I finished a relationship, fairly long term relationship, and I'd had some health problems. I was only about 27 at this stage, but I had a thyroid crash which went undiagnosed for a really long time because young people aren't supposed to get that kind of thing. So felt really awful, like just lethargic bloated. So I was in a real personal funk and it was a good moment to ask what's next and what's next. For some reason involved moving to the other side of the world. Australia had never really been on my bucket list. I've never visited before I've decided to move here. I'm not a big fan of the cold and the Gray, so I knew wherever I was going had to be sunny and warm. So off I came a house, packed up a three bedroom house into one suitcase. Off I came for adventures. And I've got to say initially it wasn't a career move.
[00:11:17.290] - Louise Gardner
There wasn't a lot of PMOs here at that stage. There were some and I'd come out of the water industry and there wasn't a lot of water investment going on in Sydney at that point. Now that changed reasonably quickly, but it definitely wasn't a career move. It was a personal move. And with hands like it was the best career move I've ever made. But that wasn't really how it started off well.
[00:11:43.010] - PMO Joe
And I just want to mention that we're all in good hands. The Marvel universe is looking over us right now. Tony Stark has joined us. So Iron Man, thank you for joining us. I appreciate that. Keep us all safe as the show continues forward. One of the themes we have from the show and all the different guests we've had is kind of that what's next moment, everybody who you hit that crossroads at some point, whether it's your career, your personal life, like you mentioned, what am I going to do? Am I going to stay on the road that I've been on, or am I going to venture off this and try a new path that takes courage, right. I mean, you went to a different country, you went to a different continent, you went to an unknown place. And I just think everybody needs to have that incentive sometimes that if somebody else did it, I can do it, too. And so I salute your courage. Right. To be able to make that change many years ago.
[00:12:39.980] - Louise Gardner
Yeah. Thank you. I actually think it would have taken more courage to stay probably didn't need to go as far as Australia. That was probably where I went out on a limb. But yeah, I was bored and I had no ties, really. So I recognized it as being a now or never moment.
[00:12:58.330] - PMO Joe
Yeah. And again, thanks to everybody who's been joining in Australia and Pakistan, and we've got people coming in from all over and Irony man, instead of Iron Man. I like that, Tony. That's nice. The other thing I was thinking about with you and as you made your change and went through all this is that you had to learn a new industry. Right. I mean, like you said, you didn't start out in this space. How do people learn, right. Again, PMO isn't easy. And you didn't have a degree at that time. I shouldn't say uneducated, but they have your degree. You didn't come up through the ranks of project management. So how do you start off in that PMO space?
[00:13:43.940] - Louise Gardner
Such a great question because I talk about this to people all the time when they're shifting between industry types. So for me, it was a lot of listening. I felt very exposed, actually. Every day I felt like I was going to be found out for about two years because I'm sitting down with project managers who are engineers, and I'm asking questions around baselines and I'm asking questions about forecast cost to complete. And I'm learning this all the technical stuff around project controls, but without really understanding the engineering speak. So it was all about listening. I never claimed to know anything. I didn't. I listened and I was a fairly bright kid and I was super keen to succeed. So I asked lots of questions. In technical industries, we talk in acronyms. And that's not just different between engineering and it that's different from business to business. And you start off somewhere new and you think, oh, I should know what that means. It's okay not to know what things mean. There becomes a time, though, where you should have asked the question. So my whole thing was about making sure I asked the questions nice and early.
[00:14:57.150] - Louise Gardner
So ask them upfront. So asking questions, learning quickly, listening. I guess that was it, really just being keen and not claiming to know anything. I didn't. I was young enough and green enough, I could get away with it.
[00:15:16.990] - PMO Joe
You did another leap starting your consulting firm. You hadn't done that before. You worked in corporate the whole time and now all of a sudden you say, I'm going to go out on my own and create a consulting firm. What was that journey like? I'm sure that wasn't an easy road for you either.
[00:15:32.960] - Louise Gardner
So look, it wasn't quite as steep a climb as it may have been. I really did ease into it very much. The first couple of years I was just a contractor, really. And then you build these business relationships and then the client will say, oh, can you provide somebody else who can help with that? And before you know where you are, you've got few teams on the go. So it was a gentle slope rather than a steep climb. It probably took three or four years, really, before it was sustainably bigger than just me. So it's been a gradual journey. I never felt any pressure to build something big. I want to build something good and that's the journey we're on. I'm not looking to build an Empire here, but we are a growing business and we're striving to get bigger. Yes, I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to build something bigger, but I want to build really a brand that's renowned for excellence in the PMO space. That's what's really important to me. And I think because we're doing it gradually and because there's quality at the root of everything we do, that's kind of the reputation we're starting to become known for, certainly in Sydney and in some of the other Australian cities too.
[00:16:55.330] - PMO Joe
Same for me. Similar journey for me with PMO Squad, right? It was, I'm done with the corporate world. I'm going to go run a project somewhere and be my own boss and never have to worry about companies again. And here we are. Pmo Squad is doing well and growing and doing awesome.
[00:17:12.010] - Louise Gardner
I've got a couple of character floors as well that helped me along this journey, so I don't have a very long attention span. What I was finding later on in my career is that you take a job and the job is fantastic. It's senior. You get the car, you get the toys. And after twelve months, I'm thinking, I've kind of done this now. So being able to dip in and out of clients really suits me down to the ground. And the other thing I really like is dysfunction. So to be able to go in and create order out of a bit of dysfunction and chaos I find really satisfying. So those traits don't serve you that well in the corporate world, but they actually serve you really well in a consultant environment.
[00:17:58.990] - PMO Joe
One thing I learned well, a lot of things I learned when we started PMO Squad is, hey, you have to be a salesperson, you have to be an accounting person. You have to be a marketing person. Right. Obviously, you're an expert in your field, that you're trade, that you're selling those services. But you learn so much more about business, which actually makes you a better partner once you land your work. Did you have the similar experience as that?
[00:18:21.110] - Louise Gardner
I learned very quickly what I'm not good at. I'm the only person probably after when I arrived in Australia, been here for about a year, went and did an MBA. So again, I always kind of knew that I was going to start something myself. And I thought an MBA will serve my corporate career well, but it will also, as she's talking about sure of some of these skills I'm going to need when I'm out in the world on my own. What I realize is being able to pass an exam in finance does not make you an accountant. So I'm probably the only person that's done a business degree and an MBA and can't make a balance sheet balance.
[00:19:00.750] - Louise Gardner
So very early on.
[00:19:01.560] - Louise Gardner
I learned to outsource. I can tell you all about the theory of making a balance sheet balance, but yeah, outsourcing. So in the very early days, you kind of have to do everything yourself. And I was obviously at least semisuccessful because here we are almost ten years later. But very early on in the journey, we get marketing support, we get sales support, we get definitely financial support. So that was a big lesson for me. And I actually wanted to do everything myself initially for lots of reasons, control, keeping expenses under control. But there comes a point where you have to think I'm going to scale this business, then I need to focus on what Ambuda so that was actually quite a big learning curve for me. Probably one of the biggest growth edges that I've been through on the journey.
[00:19:49.570] - PMO Joe
Yeah. It's another piece of feedback. Right. For our listeners out there who are thinking of starting their own company. And at least Stevens, I saw just popped on at louise has her own business there in Australia as well. And there's more to it than just knowing your own trade. Right. It looks good until you get in it. And it's like, oh, my goodness, this is going to be a lot harder. But the reward, the personal satisfaction is worth it. Right. So have that courage to go to a different country like you did, but then have that courage to start your own company, which you did, and you get the rewards from that.
[00:20:21.270] - Louise Gardner
I've got to say, despite all of that, and I work harder than I've ever done, by the way.
[00:20:26.180] - PMO Joe
[00:20:28.270] - Louise Gardner
In terms of time and you're always thinking about the next thing. But I dance to work every day. I'm having an awesome time and I've never quite felt like that. I had good jobs. I enjoyed working with people. There was lots of positive things to be said about corporate life, but I'm having more fun than I've ever had right now.
[00:20:48.130] - PMO Joe
I love that dance to work every day. I have not heard them. I know what you mean. The figurative. I love that. I think that's what we all need to focus on. Absolutely. That's awesome. Let's talk PMOs again. Right? We certainly touched on that a little bit earlier, but let's get into this a little bit more. You certainly have that unique experience of not being in it when you started and lots of lessons learned. Of course, as a consulting firm, you're helping companies with all of that as well. But what do you think are some of the common challenges that PMOs face when they're getting set up?
[00:21:27.770] - Louise Gardner
There's a few big commonalities, I guess. Sponsorship, I think, is always the main one. Sometimes people are told by other consultants that they need a PMO. Just great news for us to come along and help us. But they're given that advice without really understanding what it means and the level of sponsorship and the level of business change transformation there. I say it needs to happen for that PMO to be successful and to create value. So there's always a learning journey there, and it's a learning journey that needs to happen upwards and downwards sometimes. Most often in my experience, the executive team will have an understanding of what's required, but they'll need to push that understanding down into middle management. Quite often we see middle management challenges around. Okay, we have a PMO now. We need to hold them accounts, and accordingly, we need to hold you to account. But also it's a big cultural change for project managers if they haven't been used to working in that kind of standardized way that we try and introduce as a PMO. So common challenges usually all around culture people, whether it's sponsorship, whether it's project manager engagement. I think that's our biggest common challenge.
[00:22:46.760] - Louise Gardner
We, of course, get more technical common challenges around people who want to be rigid in certain methodologies or like to do things in a certain way. We will always face some of that. But again, that comes back to me, to this whole culture change and transformation piece.
[00:23:05.390] - PMO Joe
Do you see any difference within different industries or size companies for challenges, or is that just consistent? Obviously, people and culture are part of every company, so maybe that's just a common problem.
[00:23:17.570] - Louise Gardner
I'm speaking, obviously, very generally, but our client base is pretty much all big companies, but we do have some smaller departments within, you know, maybe small government agencies, local government type things. So we do have some smaller clients. And honestly, as I think across all of them, and we also service a lot of It and technology. Interestingly, given my background, was started in construction, but most of our clients are in It technology, but we do have some still in that engineering space. And I'm thinking that we're talking and I think these challenges are common. Regardless of how big your PMO team is or whether you're dealing with a $4 billion portfolio or $100,000, you've got to get people's mindset in the right space around. The PMO is here to make sure we deliver value on our investments. Whether that's shareholder money or whether it's taxpayer money, PMO should be about value.
[00:24:20.870] - PMO Joe
So how do you overcome those challenges? Right. I mean, it's one thing to identify, hey, here's a common challenge you have, but we make our money. Right. As consultants when we can solve those. How do we do that?
[00:24:35.490] - Louise Gardner
I don't think there's a playbook for it. I think it's a people centric solution. It's about understanding the concerns. And look, there's a lot of commonality in the concerns. So there's probably a lot of commonality in the way we address the concerns. But actually, as I think across my team, I think my team members will address that in their own style. PMO is such a people centric Department team. It's about giving people a level of comfort that you are there to support them in the journey. And these things that they think can't be done shouldn't be done. Let's just deal with them one step at a time. Evolution, not revolution, is one of my favorite things. Let's just get to the next little bit, and then we'll sit back and we'll review. And if we've got challenges, if we've got political hurdles, if we've got our framework isn't working for us, let's just deal with that as we go. So it's about not announcing, I'm here, we're going to fix everything. It's going to be great. It's about being sensitive in the way that you deal with the concerns. And again, that's the same conversation about different topics.
[00:25:49.180] - Louise Gardner
Possibly. But whether you're talking to a Department general manager or a CEO, or whether you're talking about a project manager who's worried that he can't get his project over the line, it's the same approach.
[00:26:02.010] - PMO Joe
Yeah. One thing we always hear is, hey, can you fix this for us in the next three months? And it's to your point, you just can't. Right. It takes time to go through that journey. Right. Maturity doesn't happen because you put a timeframe to it. Maturity happens over a course of time to mature. Right? I would imagine same experience that you find as well.
[00:26:24.690] - Louise Gardner
Yeah. Look, we've got three months to do this. My favorite one and we get a lot of this is we've had an audit report, and we need to fix it before the end of the year or the end of the financial year. Can you help? And of course, the answer is we can absolutely help you. Can we get you to where you need to be in three months? No. Can we get you to a place where you know what needs to be done and you can start to do it. Absolutely. Usually that's enough to respond to audits. They just need a plan. But people hate it when I say this. When I say people clients, usually to set up a new PMO or to reboot a PMO, that's not firing. It's a twelve to 18 month journey. And even then, I don't think I've ever seen a PMO that's finished. But you can start getting that value relatively quickly. It's not like nothing's going to happen for twelve or 18 months. But once you decide as a business that you're going to go down the road of creating a project management office or an enterprise project management office, and you are going to invest in that structure and the transparency and the tools and the training to get to that level of maturity.
[00:27:40.650] - Louise Gardner
What you're saying is you're going to change your business. So, yeah, it's not something you can do in ten minutes.
[00:27:47.430] - PMO Joe
Yeah. And executives don't like to hear that. Right. So one of the challenges I always like to talk in nonproject speak to help them understand. And I said, listen, I've got a 14 year old son, and I'm tired of driving him to school early three days a week so we can get there for his early sessions. So every time we get in the car, I say, hey, Zach, you want to drive today? The reality is he's not mature enough to drive that car. So it doesn't matter if the executive like me wants him to. He's just not ready. And that's what executives sometimes need to take a different perspective on this to make sure that we're understanding that.
[00:28:26.500] - Louise Gardner
Yes, absolutely. And I think we focus on what we can do in the time we have rather than what we need to come later. Usually, again, if they've got the right level of organizational buy in and sponsorship, then you can do a lot in three months. You just can't finish the job, right?
[00:28:43.100] - PMO Joe
Yeah. You can give him some driving lessons. That doesn't mean he can pass the test yet.
[00:28:47.270] - Louise Gardner
[00:28:48.070] - PMO Joe
Absolutely. Just a comment here that came in from Beatrice Oglesby. Pmo is about value add people centric teams. Your thoughts on that, Louise?
[00:29:00.750] - Louise Gardner
Yeah, couldn't agree more. Absolutely. Couldn't agree more. When you set up a PMO or when you really want to get a PMO, fire in, the first question that we ask is what are you looking to achieve? And the answer is always includes something about organizational value. Are we getting good value from our investments, from our projects? Yes. Everything about PMO for me comes back to people.
[00:29:30.580] - PMO Joe
Yeah. Every project is really helping people. Right. We're leaders of people to accomplish these goals. I totally agree. And welcome from Puerto Rico, somebody on this side of the world as well, right? Yeah, absolutely. So the other thing I think about. Right. Is strategies to overcome resistance to PMOs? Why do we need a PMO? We're doing it fine the way we are. Why do we have to get organized? You're just going to bring bureaucracy. It's just going to be overhead. It's going to slow things down. Do you hear those same challenges every day?
[00:30:12.660] - Louise Gardner
Every day. In fact, we run a call with a client yesterday. We're still not doing a lot of face to face here. So we're still in a world of Zoom meetings and team meetings, and we're supporting a client to put a Ppm system in. And maturity is quite low. But super committed team, they really want the output. They know that they need the structure. And one of the reasons they know they need it is because when they're asked for information, they struggle to provide it. And there's always a rush and it's never quite right. And you've seen it a million times. So the team are on board. But what's happening is that the PMO team on the ground are pushing to get things structured. So we need to have a standard work breakdown structure, for example. And we need to make sure that we understand what templates and forms we're going to use. No longer are. We just going to find one that we've used before. We are going to have a standard set for this, and they will all be in the system and we're all going to do everything the same way. So what the PMO team on the ground are finding is that the project managers, whilst they know they need this, they don't have the time, they're too busy, they're stalling on them that this is actually going to make things harder in the short term.
[00:31:31.230] - Louise Gardner
And the PMO analyst that was on our call yesterday was kind of looking a little bit overwhelmed. And she's an experienced PMO person, so it's not her first rodeo, but we were having a bit of a laugh. I said, you didn't take on a PMO role to make friends, did you? You know you didn't do that. Nobody makes friends at first. But what we find is whilst you'll get that pushback and that resistance, once the job's done, despite how uncomfortable people might be about it, the first couple of reports and rounds, people start coming and thanking you. Thank you so much. Life so much easier now. I was asked for this report and I just pressed the button and out it came. And it doesn't take too long before all that resistance is forgotten. And you're actually a really key value add part of the team in your own right. Forget about the value that comes from delivering projects on time, on budget. The support that a PMO can give to a project management team, if it's set up correctly and it's well functioning, means that usually you do end up making friends in a PMO.
[00:32:35.590] - Louise Gardner
Nobody joins a PMO to make friends, but in fact, I've probably made friends with every PMO I've ever been in, but it doesn't happen straight away. There's a definite journey. So it's probably not for everybody to that end. But, yeah, look, it's just about making sure people understand you're not doing it to be a bureaucrat or because you like the sound of your own voice. You're doing it because it's going to make things better. And then when it does make things better, you become a superstar.
[00:33:06.030] - PMO Joe
Yeah. I think back to one of the things that I love every year is being a judge in the PMO Global Awards. And through that competition, where they help select the best PMO in the world is you have to present your journey. You'll see some of the entrants have about a two year journey listed, and you're like, well, they just haven't gotten there yet. Right. But then you get to the ones who make it to the final four, the final two in that final round. They've been around for 10, 12, 14 years. And they talk about that now where executives come into their presentation and say how much value the PMO provides. It doesn't happen quickly. But when you reach that point, you have strong advocates throughout the organization of the value that you provide.
[00:33:53.610] - Louise Gardner
What we find is that some of our repeat business, in fact, comes from where you go and you do that in an organization. Then one of the executive team leaves and goes to another organization, and the PMO is immature. And then you start the journey again. So when you can provide that value and executive team, see how well that works and what that value looks and feels like, then they for the rest of their career will go around advocating for PMOs.
[00:34:21.930] - PMO Joe
The reality is, though, a lot of PMOs are I'm guilty as charged on this one. Right. But PMO managers kind of, when they're good, they say, hey, let's promote the PM up to the PMO manager. It's the good PM. Now you're going to be a PMO manager, but they're very different, right. A PMO manager is a completely different set of skills than a project manager has. What do you say to that new PM converted to PMO manager when they have that oh, no moment, right. It's like, what did I get myself into? How am I going to handle this? What advice do you have for them?
[00:35:01.810] - Louise Gardner
Well, we find that they're in two camps. The people who find themselves accidental PMO managers will go one way or the other. Right. So a delivery PM who's passionate about delivery will usually not stay in a PMO manager role. They might do a good job, but usually they hunger for the cut and thrust of the delivery world. And they'll usually after twelve months, they'll go back. My advice to that person was give yourself a chance to understand the difference. It is a different world. You're now the custodian of the standards. You're not responsible for doing it way more fun, I think, having done both. The other camp, though, is the people who have a revelation. Actually, I was talking to someone a couple of weeks ago about this very thing, and she was telling me she found herself managing a PMO. And her words were she felt like a creature from Mars. When she landed in this role, she didn't know really how to have to be. She was a delivery person. And then she started doing the things that she thought were important. And after about six weeks, she was hooked. And they were her words.
[00:36:17.890] - Louise Gardner
She said, I was hooked and it made me smile because that's how I felt, too. So you'll get the people who get into PMO and are like, why would I do delivery?
[00:36:30.180] - Louise Gardner
This is fantastic.
[00:36:31.750] - Louise Gardner
And you'll get the people who just can't stop going for delivery. It's two camps. You also get the others. So people who have come from other backgrounds, they might have been accountants or they might have been in strategy. And sometimes it's the last man or woman standing. Okay, can you go and be the PMO manager? And sometimes those people make the PMO managers as well because they've got almost a step removed from delivery. And so it can bring a different lens. Again, I always feel like to be credible as a PMO manager, and it might be a personal feeling you need to have done some delivery. So I think it's very hard for people who haven't done anything in projects to be strong in the role. But I have seen some people who have come in from kind of external to projects make good PMO managers.
[00:37:25.670] - PMO Joe
Yeah, same sort of findings for me. And just to do a kind of a plug out there for everybody with continuing education credits or PDUs are often needed to get certifications renewed. And just a reminder to everybody. Right. These shows, these podcasts are a good source of one PDU for you to be able to claim out there, whether it's PMI or other affiliations that you're working through. So take these sessions in, whether it's live, like we're doing now, or you happen to do the recording, you can go out there and do some self reporting for this time and get your PDUs in order. So always take advantage of that. The other thing that I always think about with PMO is that it's what is a PMO? Right. Is it a project office, a program office, a portfolio office or whatever? How do you help organizations resolve through this challenge of just exactly what a PMO is?
[00:38:25.870] - Louise Gardner
Yeah, great question. So the first question is, why are you doing this? What do you want to achieve? So that's got to be the first Port of call. Sometimes it's because you want to do reporting. Sometimes it's because you're not having predictable project outcomes. Everything's coming in late and it's hard to track finances. So find out what a PML as I said is a spectrum of activities from a very simple one person reporting PMO to a kind of ten person strategic enterprise PMO. And the first doesn't always turn into the last. So what's important to your organization? What do you want to do? And that's really the place to start. So you've got to right size it to meet that goal. What we'll usually find, though, is once that goal has been achieved, where do we want to go next? So we'll have this maturity curve. And again, you might not end up with a ten person strategic enterprise PMO. You might end up with a little bit of portfolio prioritization. You might end up with some reporting, you might end up doing some quality assurance. It's about finding what adds to that word value. Again, what's going to add value to the organization?
[00:39:42.990] - Louise Gardner
And you know, if you've got that right by the level of executive support. So as long as you're aligned with what the executive team wants, then that will usually work quite well.
[00:39:55.990] - PMO Joe
What I love about these conversations, right, is the consistency of my own thought, talking to other people. So PMO squad, we came up with our solution, the purpose driven PMO. Right. And guess what? First step is define your purpose. Align it with expectations of your executives as to what you need to do. Once you know your purpose, then go measure it. Are we achieving it or not? And then what do you do after that? Optimize to make sure you're staying fresh and your purpose evolves and changes over time. So we've never talked about that before. And you talk about essentially the same steps half the world away about this because those are the bread and butter that we as PMO leaders need to be able to do to have long term success and ultimately provide value, like you said. So tell me a little bit more about pledge consulting. Right. What is it that is there a specialty that you guys have? Is there functions that you do better than others just to give a broader understanding of what Pledge offers?
[00:41:01.570] - Louise Gardner
Sure. Thanks. So we got three main service areas, advisory. So it's fair to say that 95% of our work is PMO specific. So we do a little bit of project delivery if we're asked. But we're all about PMO, really. So we do advisory. So that usually entails supporting organizations with PMO, set up health checks. We do things like Ppm implementations very much concentrating around supporting organizations to get value from PMOs. So all of the things that would sit under that we do a bit of delivery, which is mostly nowadays PMO as a service. So when you will advise an organization what a PMO should look like, what functions it should contain, sometimes people will say, that sounds hard, can you do it for us? Which will say, absolutely. And again, the key to that is right size. And no one wants a team of consultants sitting there in the long term if they're not adding value. So very conscious, but that's a real value driven service. So delivery and advisory. We also have this year set up a capability practice, sorry, iconic people. Now it's working titled capability. We now have people practice where we do some training, and we also have a professional development program for PMO managers and project managers who want to advance in their career.
[00:42:36.800] - Louise Gardner
That's a five month program that's actually launching towards the end of February. And we've got some academics, industry experts that are going to lead that program. So that's a real passion of mine. I've gotten such a lot out of the PMO world. I'd quite like to help other people do the same. So training wise, we don't do certifications or any of that. It's real bespoke stuff. So if an organization has a need to understand about PMO value or to do some fundamentals of project management will tailor that cause to meet the Organisation's specific needs. So it's a relatively small part of our business, but it's a growing path, I'm happy to say. I'm also very badly doing a PhD at the moment looking at the link between leadership development and project outcomes. And what I've realized is that I need to, because that's something I care about very much need to incorporate some of that in our service offering. It's about being authentic for me. And yes, we want to continue to thrive helping organizations in the advisory space and in the delivery space, but I've got a kind of niggle to do something that supports the broader community that's not going away.
[00:43:56.920] - Louise Gardner
So we're very much going to kind of do a bit more in that space as time goes on.
[00:44:02.050] - PMO Joe
We've had pretty good guest list from Australia yourself, Elise Stevens and Julius Steele, Fatima Bucci, Colin Ellis, Amira Amosaari. But I don't think I've ever asked any of them, like, how robust is the PMO community there or within organizations like in the UK? I know PMO is such an accepted, strong part of organizations in the US, it could be better. I don't think it's as strong as it is in the UK. What's that organizational culture like there in Australia and the acceptance of PMOs?
[00:44:38.050] - Louise Gardner
I think it's pretty strong. We have a couple of conferences here. We did in the old world in the before times that were just for PMO communities, and that was always a definite community of people. And look, we've tried to keep that going through some online events. At the end of 2020, we did a PMO leadership symposium, which was an online one day event that was very well attended purely in the PMO space. We've also stolen some of you inspired by your success. We've also set up a PMO and project leadership podcast, and we're just recording a new season of that, actually. And that's again, to get in these community members and try and keep that conversation going while we can't get together face to face. So, look, I think it's strong. We're not a huge population here and we're very spread out. That's one of the problems that we have. So when we have a conference, we're probably getting about 40 people in the room, whereas if we did the same thing in the US, we probably have about 300. So the volume is quite low, but the passion is high. So I feel strongly that we kind of try and keep that going in these weird times we find ourselves in.
[00:46:01.860] - Louise Gardner
And as a business, we do try and do a bit of community gathering virtually or in person.
[00:46:08.770] - PMO Joe
It's interesting. Pmo squad. Obviously, we're us based, but we have an employee who is here in the States, but she's on about a six month time frame where she's in Sydney right now. So every week when I meet with her, I asked her to give me a fun Australian fact so that I can take advantage of this personally as well. And we met this week and she said, I think the population of Australia is about 22 or 23 million or so.
[00:46:36.850] - Louise Gardner
It was 27 million now, 27,000,003 when I got here, I think. So we're growing, but we're still small.
[00:46:44.840] - PMO Joe
Yeah. So I compared that here and that's like the size of the state of Texas. Right. So again, one of our biggest States equals that because I always want to put in context, land mass wise, you're basically the same size of the US, but population wise, it's a 10th of the size or so which people are passionate.
[00:47:05.730] - Louise Gardner
But as I spread out, absolutely.
[00:47:09.670] - PMO Joe
What else do you have for people who want to make that jump? Right. If you're a good project manager today or maybe you're not in project management, maybe you want to run PMOs. What would be the guidance that you would give them to say, here's what you need to do to get yourself ready for a career as a PMO leader.
[00:47:28.090] - Louise Gardner
Yeah, great question. So I think it's about learning and self education. So when I say learning, of course, I mean project management certifications or courses or whatever you need to do to have that theoretical knowledge, very important as the custodian of the standards, you have to know what the standards are. So get right across, whether it's PMP or whether it's print two or whether it's agile certifications. Go and immerse yourself in this world. Linkedin Learning has lots of great stuff. Websites like ours has videos on that you can specialize in various topics. Educate yourself. That's the first thing. But the second thing is, and sometimes people find this hard is reach out to people and ask, I'm always thrilled when someone messages me and says, can you tell me about this or have you got half an hour for a chat? I will always make that time. And most people who are passionate about PMO will say yes to. So reach out to your own network. Reach out beyond your network to people who have experience in this space and ask them what they think people are keen to help. It's a funny area, I think.
[00:48:47.040] - Louise Gardner
I struggle to think about other disciplines that evoke so much passion and so much discussion and debate. So there's a lot out there to consume. But yeah, nothing like having a conversation with a person who's done the job. You want to set you up for success.
[00:49:03.610] - PMO Joe
Yeah. And I second that part about asking the community. Right. We have such a strong knit community of PMOs out there, whether it's the PMO leader, global community that's out there, certainly PMO Global Alliance, House of PMO, the PMO impact Group. There's so many different organizations. But if you reach out to any of them, I don't think anyone's ever told me no. If I ask a question, if I ask someone to be on a show, if I ask them to be on a webinar, if I ask anything, it's always about we all want to improve project management kind of has this bad connotation sometimes within organizations. So we all want to help one another get better. Do you find the same thing?
[00:49:47.050] - Louise Gardner
Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. People are busy, but they'll a bit of support or morale or a bit of knowledge transfer. People will always say yes. That's my experience. Don't shoot me at somebody.
[00:50:06.190] - PMO Joe
Yeah. Just my luck with Jinx. Now next time I'm going to ask someone to come on the show, they're not going to join us. One is we're kind of getting close to time here. I want to make sure we kind of get through everything. And I want to be able to get you an opportunity to talk about all of your items. Are there any items or kind of last words of wisdom that you have for PMO leaders out there or project managers? Right. Anybody in our industry that you would kind of give to them?
[00:50:36.130] - Louise Gardner
Yeah. Persevere, I guess it's not an easy journey to raise standards, to increase maturity, to get people to change, because what we're usually talking about here is business transformation. So it's not easy. So Persevere, remember that it's people centric business. You're not going to win the battle by forcing something down someone's throat. It's conversation, it's dialogue. And yes, I come back to that word perseverance. Keep at it, be it project manager or project sponsor or PMO leader. We just need to keep trying to aspire to the standards that we know we need to reach.
[00:51:18.370] - PMO Joe
Yes, I would agree. I have your LinkedIn here up on screen. But is that the best way to connect with you? After the show, folks want to connect with you. How can they do that?
[00:51:30.540] - Louise Gardner
Absolutely. I'm on LinkedIn quite a lot. I think we've got the company. Twitter is at Pledge consult. My personal Twitter is at Louisville Tweet. Feel free to reach out in any way that works for you.
[00:51:48.920] - PMO Joe
Awesome. Thank you so much. Just checking the last set of comments that came in here and people centric. Nice. I love that. Great session. Thank you, Elise and Tony and all the others who participated with their comments throughout this. I tried to sprinkle them into the questions as you were going along. So I really appreciate everyone's feedback and of course, thank you, Louise for joining us. I really appreciate that. Hopefully that you're off to a good start on your Friday. It's a good way hopefully to get the day going.
[00:52:20.600] - Louise Gardner
Thank you so much for having me on up and looking forward to this.
[00:52:24.490] - PMO Joe
Absolutely. I appreciate it. And thank you to our listeners. Right from whether it's the podcast, whether you're on LinkedIn live, whatever your format is, we thank you for joining us. Every other week when we get together, I guess that's called a fortnight. In Australia, we had non US English term. I learned that one. So thank you, everybody for doing that. Be sure to visit our website. You can go out to Project Managementofficehowers.com or you can go out to the PMO Squad website and click on podcast there to be able to catch all of our episodes. We've had fantastic guests over the years so we're super thrilled with that and we have an amazing line up of guests coming up. We're booked all the way through June already, so look forward to hearing Candace Porter, Bruno Morganty, Ben Peters, Tim Creasy, Louise Wersley, Ricardo Martin, Sanjeev Augustine, Melissa McDonald, so many more coming on covering all different topics from PMOs to project management to change management training, you name it. They're all going to be with us. So I'm Super excited for that. And a reminder, of course we do record these shows. We are live and you can tell we're live because we responded to your feedback and questions on LinkedIn.
[00:53:44.240] - PMO Joe
But we do record these right so we're also able to catch it if you weren't able to make this, we appreciate that. So subscribe to Project Management Office Hours on Apple podcast or iHeartRadio Spotify Spreaker or whatever your platform of choices. That's it for now. Office Hours are closed. Until next time. I'm PMO, Joe and you've been listening to Project Management Office Hours.
[00:54:11.410] - Announcer
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