Four young project professionals recently won top prize at the PM Challenge hosted by APM's Scotland Branch, thanks to their joint project on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI).
The winning team from BAE Systems, called ‘Team Evolve', developed an accessible sensory garden space for the Erskine Veterans Village in Bishopton, near Glasgow, raising more than £3,000 to help fund the scheme.
As part of the project, the team designed raised flower beds with wheelchair accessibility, ensuring the involvement of Erskine's dementia residents in activities like planting flowers, which were previously inaccessible to them.
To assist with the project's construction, the team sought support from the BAE Systems workshop and engaged Chartered Project Professionals. Through leveraging these resources, along with the additional funds raised, they accomplished an impressive overall "value for the customer" of around £4,500, which impressed the judges.
The PM Challenge is an annual competition that nurtures the development of project professionals across APM branches worldwide. This year, the participating teams at APM Scotland Branch had to deliver projects in support of their chosen charity around the theme of EDI.
Eight teams took part, including two from BAE Systems, two from Network Rail, two from Robert Gordon University, one from Scottish Water, and one from Heriot-Watt University. The challenge, conducted over several months, culminated in a prestigious awards dinner.
Each project underwent rigorous scrutiny by the judging panel, ensuring adherence to project management best practices.
The winning team expressed their appreciation for the chance to work on a project with a shorter timeframe, guided by professional APM-trained mentors. And despite occasional disruptions to their work-life balance, they all said they cherished the experience.
Fergus Mcgown, a 23-year-old project management apprentice at BAE Systems and winning team member, said:
"Typically the projects we undertake at BAE Systems span several years. So, the PM Challenge really appealed to us as it provided an opportunity to independently manage a smaller-scale project all the way from start to finish.”
Fellow team member Damon Cunningham, 26, stressed the importance of mentorship to his team's victory:
“People at BAE Systems have obviously done this challenge before, so we reached out to them. Last year's winner became our mentor and interim sponsor which was very helpful.”
Completing the team were Callum Wallace and Luke Conroy-Marlin, who collectively recognised the importance of the EDI theme and its impact on the industry.
Callum Wallace, a 27-year-old project controller, said:
"It is crucial for each of us to contribute towards making project management more diverse. Therefore, highlighting and working around this theme throughout the challenge was a rewarding experience for the entire team.”
The second-place team and winners of the runner up prize hailed from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh.
Nicola Thompson, coordinator of APM's Scotland Branch PM Challenge and Project Sponsor at Transport Scotland, said:
“The winning team's model was very clear. They incorporated many APM principles, such as a project plan, key milestones, risk analysis, and delivered an excellent presentation, as did all the entries. Ultimately, it was very difficult for the judges to decide a winner.”
Dr. Amos Haniff, one of the competition judges, Chair of APM's Scotland Branch, and Professor of Project Management at Heriot-Watt University, said:
“The PM Challenge is a valuable opportunity for individuals in the early stages of their careers to gain insights into practices across various organisations and foster connections within the broader project community. Considering the ongoing shortage of project professionals, it is essential that we continue to nurture their development, and this role is among the most vital responsibilities undertaken by APM.”
Stay tuned for updates on future winners as other APM branches will be hosting PM Challenges throughout the year.