A customised leadership development programme run by Cranfield School of Management is transforming senior UK Government employees into world-class leaders capable of delivering at the highest level across all major projects.
Developed in partnership with the Infrastructure and Projects Authority, PA Consulting Group and The Project Academy, the Project Leadership Programme (PLP) aims to enhance project leadership skills across the public sector and create a new, elite group of senior project leaders within Government departments.
The programme, now in its third year, has so far worked with more than 500 civil servants from 30 departments spanning the full range of Government functions, from finance, education and international development, to health, culture and the environment.
The latest participants to complete the course received their certificates at a graduation ceremony on campus last week.
Shaun Clowes, Projects Team Leader at the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall, was among the recent graduates. He said: "Being on the Project Leadership Programme was an absolutely fascinating experience. Every time I went away from a residential module, I was eager to get back into the office to test the principles and methods I had learned, to see if they worked."
Having begun his career in the Royal Air Force, Shaun joined the civil service in 2007. Since 2015, he has been leading the Enterprise Approach Project, a complex and unique project in partnership with the private sector that aims to tackle the critical skills shortage that threatens the UK's defence capabilities.
Shaun said: "I'm running an extremely demanding and complex programme that is more akin to research and development rather than project delivery. I felt I needed additional skills, training and development to help me deliver on the project and so that everything came more naturally.
"I remember the first day of the course very well. I felt like an imposter. I could see there were some very clever and talented people on the cohort, and I didn't believe I had the necessary skills or deserved to be there, at first.
"But, thanks to the programme, I have gained in confidence. We have now completed the first stage of the project to great success. This hasn't just happened; it's not good fortune or luck. It has meant long days, lots of stakeholder engagement and some challenges along the way. I've reached depths of reserves I didn't know I had and I believe I've been remarkably resilient, even when things have been difficult. I definitely think the PLP played a big part in this; the techniques I've learned, along with my increased self-awareness, have helped ensure the success of this project so far."
The 12-month Project Leadership Programme focuses on three key leadership competencies: leadership of self, commercial leadership and technical project leadership. Combining expert academic theory and practical hands-on learning, it builds the skills and capacity of senior project leaders across Government to deliver large and complex projects on time and on budget.
Course director Mike Bourne, Professor of Business Performance at Cranfield, said: “The Project Leadership Programme has been a huge success. The standard of participants has been consistently high, and we are continually getting great feedback about how participants are using the skills they’ve learned on the programme to improve their work and boost their career opportunities.
The skills the programme teaches are part of our core offering at Cranfield. We have been working with businesses large and small around the world, over five decades, to help them improve the way they manage important and high-profile projects.
"The people we are working with on the PLP are running some of the most complex and important projects there are, and it’s just not possible to do that without some development education and training. We are teaching them how to lead: how to deal with difficult situations, how to be resilient, how to be mindful, and how to challenge people if necessary to ensure the success of a project. We know the participants on our course hugely gain in confidence over the time they are with us, and I think that’s what really makes the difference.
"At the moment a lot of time, effort and money is being spent on trying to improve service delivery and infrastructure and, with Brexit, demand for strong leaders in Government will only increase as the impact of that on trade deals, infrastructure, research, universities and more needs to be managed through.
"We are delighted to be part of the process of strengthening our Government's project leaders and helping them deliver projects that will ultimately affect us all in the future."
Notes for editors
About PA Consulting Group
PA Consulting Group is an employee-owned firm of over 2,500 people, operating globally from offices across North America, Europe, the Nordics, the Gulf and Asia Pacific. We are experts in energy, financial services, life sciences and healthcare, manufacturing, government and public services, defence and security, telecommunications, transport and logistics. Our deep industry knowledge together with skills in management consulting, technology and innovation allows us to challenge conventional thinking and deliver exceptional results with lasting impact.
About The Project Academy
The Project Academy is a niche SME consultancy that supports clients to improve their project and programme management capability. With a focus on the development of senior project leaders, the team's expertise drives project performance through defining critical skills, assessing the current skill levels and delivering targeted development. In doing this, the Academy works with organisations to mitigate the corporate risk around poor project delivery to ensure it has the right people with the right skills working on the right projects.
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About Cranfield University
Cranfield has been a world leader in management education and research for over 50 years, helping individuals and organisations learn and succeed by transforming knowledge into action. We are dedicated to creating responsible management thinking, improving business performance and inspiring the next generation of business leaders. We work to change the lives of our students and executives by encouraging innovation and creative thinking, as well as the drive to succeed and make a real impact on their organisations.
Organisations as diverse as Jaguar Land Rover, BAE Systems, Royal Dutch Shell, L’Oréal, UNICEF and the African Development Bank have benefited from our work, which ranges from management research projects, through staff talent management development on our MBA courses, to customised executive programmes.
Cranfield is one of an elite group of Schools worldwide to hold the triple accreditation of: AACSB International (the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), EQUIS (European Quality Improvement System) and AMBA (the Association of MBAs).
We are in the Top 10 International Business Schools in the Forbes’ ranking.
Our open and customised executive education programmes are ranked in the top five in the UK, according to the latest Financial Times survey, and in the top ten in the world for international reach. Over 10,000 people come to Cranfield each year to benefit from our executive and professional development programmes.