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Early Bird Sessions

Valerie Gray
Director and Founder, Talent Makers
Are your Soft Skills too Soft- Fine Tuning Soft Skills for Hard Skill Application

With businesses becoming more global and social, understanding the value of soft skills in an organization is critical. Ms. Valerie Gray, director and founder, Talent Makers, kicked off a pre-conference session, "Are your Soft Skills too Soft- Fine Tuning Soft Skills for Hard Skill Application", for early bird registrants.

The fun-filled session with quips, brainteasers, and group exercises demonstrated how critical it is for an organization to develop effective, measurable soft skills. Many projects fail due to lack of soft skills. Quoting an IAG Consulting report, Ms. Gray said that 68 percent of technology projects are "improbable", or in other words, likely to fail, because the level of competency required is higher than what is employed by companies.

Ms. Gray went on to define hard skills and soft skills in project language. Hard skills include data exchange, detailed project report, estimated activity duration, network diagramming, stakeholder risk tolerance, change controls, business case development, work breakdown structure, constraints and assumptions, critical path, project charter, and resource assignment matrix. Soft skills include collaboration, communication, time management/planning, thinking, conflict management, dealing with change/flexibility, decision making, teamwork, team building, handling stress, problem solving, leadership, and diplomacy. Clearly, hard and soft skills are intertwined. She also spoke about income producing activities and income reducing activities that define organizational culture today.

Ms. Gray also spoke about Scrum, the framework under agile project management methodology. She felt that Scrum does not work in a country like India. In the west, when there is a conflict, the western default response is to confront the crisis and take it to a resolution state. In India, when there is a conflict, the default response is to avoid the conflict, prolong the crisis, and hence, the conflict continues. Scrum does not say that one needs to confront/question a conflict, and this makes it unfit for the Indian work culture.

Leigh Moyle
CEO, PMgurus
How Social networking is Turning into Business Networking - Indian Case Study

Ms. Leigh Moyle, CEO, PMgurus, presented some India-specific social media statistics to set the context for her session on "How Social networking is Turning into Business Networking - Indian Case Study". India ranks second in Facebook and Linkedin usage. As far as Google+ goes, India holds the number one position. These statistics reveal that the use of social media for networking and seeking jobs is on the rise in India. Social networking sites could also be what project management professionals use to get ahead in the workplace.

There are currently several problems faced by project managers in India and Ms. Moyle touched upon some of them. These included limited time, lack of work-life balance, and not being located in a large center, like those employed in the energy sector who are often based in remote locations. Many of these professionals look towards career mobility and some may want to change their domain. It is important for them to build social and professional linkages.

Ms. Moyle felt that people from India could benefit greatly using social networking to establish business contacts. How about a business networking site for project managers to share experiences and find solutions to professional problems? PMgurus is one such networking site that fills this gap and will help the community becomes more knowledgeable about project management. The company also had a stall at the conference venue.

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