Set the scene
A few weeks ago I got an email saying (and I paraphrase) “Sorrel, you’re young. Could you come to the volunteers forum to lower the average age a little bit.”
At least thats how I read it.
I then had a look at the menu for the Friday night:
Starter - Caramelised onion and feta cheese tart (v) served with white balsamic, radish and watercress salad
Main – Herb crusted rack of lamb served with ratatouille, dauphinoise potatoes, pancetta and savoy cabbage with mint infused jus
Dessert – Apple tart tatin – vanilla bean ice cream and caramel sauce
So I said yes.
But I had never heard of the volunteers forum - is it the APM version of joining the Masons? would I get a hood? Ceremonial robes seem quite warm and comfy…
The dress code turned out to be smart casual.
A bit of background. The APM holds volunteer forums every 6 months. Each SIG (Specific interest Group) and UK region sends a couple of delegates. They get together and talk about stuff. Each region takes it in turns to host the event and this time it was London - Canary wharf to be exact.
Friday, 1500 hours: Canary Wharf
I arrived at the hotel, on the way I had to get a ferry, and on check in got given a welcome pack, cookie and an upgraded room with a balcony! (See photo)
Now, I would just like to warn you, I judge most things by the food. So by starting the weekend with a cookie they had me in the palm of their hands.
I checked in at 3, but the meal didn’t start till 7:30. So I had a nap. I would like to pretend that I did something more exciting, but no.
Friday, 1830 hours: Drinks reception
I didn't know anyone. On the delegate list there seemed to be at least 6 names I recognised, but none of them had arrived yet. So I picked up my champaign and went and read a book on my kindle. (Princess diaries 10) until it was time for food.
The meal was accompanied by a speech from Joshua Macey, Young Project Professional of the Year Winner 2016. This is something I would like to know more about - I’ve come across a few winners, but never seen much about the competition. It was wonderful to hear first hand what he has worked on, how he started, and what motivates him.
The food was yum. There was also seemingly endless wine (although I get sozzled after two glasses, so wouldn’t be able to tell the actual amounts) and I spent the evening talking about Brexit with a lovely Spanish PM, while also talking about his PHD (something to do with obsolescence, but by then it was midnight so the details are hazy). as well as being courted by a few representatives of other SIG’s wondering which group had managed to bag one of the youngest people in the room.
Saturday, 0830 hours: Breakfast room at the Hilton Hotel London
The wifi didn’t reach to my bed, so Netflix was unavailable. I credit this for the fact that I managed to get up for breakfast in time - possibly the best spread of food I’ve seen. They would make pancakes in front of you.
This is the scary stage - I could sort of remember some people, but was scared that they wouldn’t remember me. So sat by myself, then worried that I looked rude by ignoring people.
All in all it was a socially stressful breakfast. But it did include mini muffins.
Now incase you didn’t know, the APM has just become chartered and, as of 1st of April 2017, is a new shiny APM. So there was lots of excitement, and a sneak peek of the chartership plans from John McGlynn, (APM Chair) and Sara Drake (APM CEO). Also lots of talk around PR and Marketing.
This is where I started getting frustrated. This may have been the wrong forum for them to be asking these questions: with people who already spend a good amount of their time volunteering for the APM, are near the end of their careers (or even retired). I thought there was a lot of enthusiasm round the room, people with so much knowledge about project management, but this was an area where they felt a bit lost.
Anyhoo. There seemed to be a lot of doubt at wether young people even want to join a professional body - “scatty” was the word used. Wanting to change industries and jobs all the time.
Lets just look at the APM's definition of a project:
A project is a unique, transient endeavour, undertaken to achieve planned objectives, which could be defined in terms of outputs, outcomes or benefits.
"Transient" - so you get to move around? try different things? "Unique" So each role is different? while staying in the same career? Perfect for the “scatty” “yoof”. This was why I decided it was the career for me: when I got bored of Ships, I moved on. When I get bored of my current projects I can move on again - or move back, or whatever I want to do!
I stood up and said the above - the comment seemed well received. I’m going to write another post about where the APM might be going with on this subject - but be reassured it should be good… (full disclosure - I’m biased, as they seem to be doing the things I think they should do, so, feel free to disagree with my opinions)
In fact I encourage you to disagree with me. This is the thing that I sometimes find lacking: diversity. Of thought, background, culture, age…. These need to be encouraged…
But I’m going off topic.
Saturday, 1030 hours: Foyer to the function room
Doughnuts for the coffee break - they were like small balls of jammy-goodness. Lunch was also very good.
Saturday, 1300 hours: in a random downstairs room
They had set up a little booth, with a video camera where they asked you questions about volunteering with the APM. Someone took me down there. I said things into the camera. I have avoided watching the finished product.
Saturday, 1600 hours: Speed dating
This was where each SIG sat at a table, and the various region representatives came round and talked to us. I was asked some very difficult questions about why governance was important. (That’s my SIG) and generally met some lovely people.
Saturday, 1800 hours: On a boat in the middle of the Thames
Saturday, 1930 hours: Food in the Docklands museum
More good food. Also, three delegates were asked to stand up and talk about their career journeys. This was very informal, they had only been asked the night before. The most beautiful was Natalie talking about the hurdles she has had to overcome. If anyone doubts the need for feminism it showed the support provided by the Women in PM SIG.
Saturday, 2300 hours (I think): Bar and then gatecrashing the function room
The night ended up in the bar. Well, in the function room below the bar.
We may have gatecrashed a wedding (I was assured that the bride and groom didn’t mind).
This meant that we also got a disco!
Saturday, 2359 hours: Last dance at the wedding in the function room
There were six people in the room: The bride and groom (dancing beautifully may I add), me and someone I’d just met from the Scotland region, (trying, and failing, not to stand on each other’s shoes), one project manager dancing by himself, and the DJ.
I half wondered if they had invited anyone to their wedding? or had just banked on inviting random people from the bar upstairs.
Sunday, when at last I woke up
I managed to check out 1 minute before the end of check out. Go me!
What an elightening weekend! I feel like I have a better understanding of the inner workings of the APM. (Dress code smart casual, robe wearers need not apply). And I now know more people to say hi to at future events. It was an interesting weekend, I’m excited to see what the future holds for the APM, so much is being planned to try to engage and add value for Project Managers at any stage in their careers, and it gave me lots of ideas to suggest, if anyone will listen. And the food was good.
The food was excelent.