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Project Management Lessons to Manage Uncertainties
Be it healthcare, IT, entertainment, or travel, the fifth PMI India National Conference welcomes people from across sectors to share their experiences

As economic uncertainty continues to rage, organizations are recognizing the value of project management as a critical capability that will steer them towards their business goals. The PMI India Project Management National Conference 2013 put the spotlight on the way organizations are staying focused on their strategic objectives and seeing success through project management. Business leaders, policymakers, PMI executives, and project practitioners shared knowledge and exchanged ideas on the conference theme, "Project Management - Bringing Certainty in Uncertain Times", during the two-day event.

The fifth annual project management national conference, held on 27-28 September in Gurgaon, National Capital Region, drew speakers with wide experience in leading large organizations, growing entrepreneurial ventures, and providing direction to government policy-making. In keeping with the conference objective to help delegates develop life skills and new perspectives, this time there were talks on spirituality and how projects are done in Hindi cinema.The conference had many firsts- a conference mobile application, a photo booth, and separate panel discussions for corporate and government.

The conference attracts delegates from around the country and abroad, with 60-70 percent from outside the host chapter's territory, the National Capital Region
PMI India presented the coveted Best Project of the Year awards during the conference. The awards were presented to Larsen & Toubro Limited, Essar Projects Limited, and Reliance Industries Limited in the large, medium, and small category, respectively. ITC Limited won for contribution to the community and The Energy Research Institute won under the non-government organization category.

PMI unveiled the Hindi version of A Guide to Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) during the inaugural session.

While delivering the inaugural address, Mr. Bhaskar Pramanik, chairman, Microsoft India, spoke about the need for companies and professionals to reinvent themselves to stay relevant in the highly dynamic business environment. He said social media, mobility, analytics through big data, and cloud technology are the four mega technology trends that will have a profound impact on how companies service users.

Ms. Deena Gordon-Parla, member, PMI Board of Directors, said project management becomes an imperative for organizations as they look for better performance at a time when profit margins are reducing. As evidence of India's growing adoption of project management, she pointed out that India today has more Project Management Professional (PMP)® certified practitioners than Japan and that the government of India recognizes it as a key skill in the 12th Five Year Plan.

However, India has a long way to go to make the optimum use of project management at the workplace and adopting it as a life skill. Highlighting the risk ignorance in the country, Mr. Raj Kalady, managing director, PMI India, said, "I see every day how people ignore grave risks to their life while driving on the road. I also see how organizations do not prepare risk mitigation plans to see them through unpleasant surprises."

Mr. Deep Kalra, founder and group CEO, MakeMyTrip.com, spoke about the challenges and excitement of taking the untrodden path. His success mantra as an entrepreneur is to get the timing right while introducing a product or service to the market, rely on analytics for business decisions, and build an enabling work culture.

Mr. Craig Killough, vice president, organization markets, PMI, offered insights into the state of projects across the globe with some startling statistics. The highest performing companies in terms of project success get it right only 80 percent of the time, and these companies constitute just eight percent of companies globally.

PMI is a partner of the India Backbone Implementation Network (IbIn), which was conceived under the 12th Five Year Plan to bring organizational capabilities together to coordinate, collaborate on, and implement issues, projects, and policies for the country's development. Speaking at the conference, Mr. Arun Maira, member, Planning Commission, explained the concept behind creating IbIn and likened it to the Total Quality Movement in Japan.

Mr. Raj Kalady lighting the traditional lamp that symbolises knowledge and wisdom. With him on the dais are (from left) Mr. Pritam Gautam, Mr. Manoj Gupta, Mr. Brian Weiss, Mr. Craig Killough, Ms. Deena Gordon-Parla, and Mr. Bhaskar Pramanik
India's booming healthcare industry has been a late starter when it comes to project management. Mr. Vishal Bali, group CEO, Fortis Healthcare Limited, provided an overview of the challenges that the sector faces and the project management opportunities for better healthcare delivery in the country.

This year delegates got a glimpse of the way film projects are managed in Hindi cinema. Mr. Mahesh Bhatt, film producer, director, and writer, drew lessons from his life to talk about the importance of believing in oneself, being passionate at work, and not succumbing to the fear of the unknown.

Some key takeaways also came from corporate guru, Swami Sukhabodhananda. He interspersed life's lessons for today's corporate world with learnings from ancient Indian scriptures.

Besides the keynotes and special addresses, there were two panel discussions - "Managing Uncertainties in Projects" and "E-Governance and Public Empowerment - Fiction or Reality" - in which leaders from business and government discussed issues that plague projects in the private and public sector. There were two parallel tracks for case studies and technical paper presentations on both the days, plus two early bird sessions on 26 September.

The conference, which was planned and delivered by volunteers, was designed to make it exciting and memorable for delegates who had come from all over India and abroad. The conference mobile application provided not just the conference agenda but also games. There were many contests and lucky draws to be won. Another feature that caught delegates' interest was the photo booth, in which they could take pictures with catchy slogans as conference memorabilia.

The national conference moves to Hyderabad next year. The dates are yet to be announced.

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(With contributions from Gayatri Appaya)
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