By Eric Ross
The University of Ottawa - Telfer School of Management’s Master of Business in Complex Project Leadership Program (MBCPL) is the only educational resource of its kind in Canada specifically dedicated to providing managers and executives with the knowledge and techniques required to successfully deliver complex projects.
At a time when failure to understand and properly manage complex projects routinely makes national headlines, the need has never been greater for an Executive Master’s degree program dedicated solely to skill development for leaders of large, complex projects. Traditional project management is centered around projects with a fixed scope, a linear and unbending sequential approach to following a pre-set plan, and the predominant goal of delivering on time and on budget. This is no longer sufficient when it comes to the delivery of projects with expansive, quickly changing scope, multiple stakeholders and changing demands.
Project complexity rises with the number of stakeholders, the interconnectedness and codependency of activities and approvals, the unclear or unshared goals and expected outcomes, the cultural barriers, the technical challenges, and evolving nature of those elements over time. Such complexity impacts large capital procurement projects, equipment capitalization, integrating information technology/systems, innovation and R&D, guiding organizational change, and large-scale business transformation efforts. Areas such as these require a new level of education and professionalization that traditional management techniques and understanding fail to adequately provide.
Successful delivery of a complex project involves much more than simply managing time and budget when it pertains to projects at the national level or involving massive corporations and multifaceted institutions. If the project does not adequately address all the specific needs it is intended to solve efficiently and to the client’s expectations, being on time and on budget will be a paltry balm when it comes time to deliver the project to the public or the stakeholders.
Telfer’s MBCPL program recognizes the knowledge gap that exists in modern Canadian industry and government environments when it comes to complex projects and addresses that gap in a way no other program in Canada can.
Telfer’s program helps managers and executives avoid the pitfalls that have become all too common in complex projects. Those enrolled in the programs are taught: To recognize complexity early on, to identify and engage key stakeholders, to understand the fundamental reason(s) why the project exists, and fully understand what the desired outcome needs to be, to consider the real effects of possible outcomes, to understand who are the ultimate clients of the effects of the project, and to identify major risks in the project environment early and recognize their likely impact.
Thanks to its unique position as the only Executive Master’s degree program in Complex Project Leadership in Canada, Telfer is privileged to have some of the brightest minds and most accomplished professionals enlisted in its MBCPL program. On April 9th, 2018 Esprit de Corps magazine hosted a cocktail reception to honour this year’s winners of Esprit de Corp’s annual Top Women in Defence Awards. Among this year’s winners were two women Telfer is proud to count among the many accomplished women and men enrolled in the MBCPL program. Alanna Jorgensen, the Director of Maritime Equipment Program Management, and Cdr(retired) Robyn Locke, a Naval Architect formerly with the Department of National Defence, represent the best Canada has to offer and will no doubt lead the way when it comes to tackling the complex projects our nation will face in the coming decades. Telfer is also proud to list two previous Top Women in Defence Award winners among those enrolled in the MBCPL program: Anne Healey, the General Manager of Group Business Development for BAE Systems and LtCdr Melanie Blanchard, from the Royal Canadian Navy.
When asked about how the MBCPL program has affected her outlook, the way she works, and the benefits she has seen in her day-to-day work environment, Cdr(retired) Robyn Locke said:
“This course has been great for forcing me to examine the strategic picture. In any task I do, I now take more time to consider the wider context, the perspectives of the different stakeholders, and the outcome we are trying to achieve before I dive in to solution mode. I also spend much more time communicating my intentions than before. It is so important to get the right buy-in all along the process for a successful outcome. In my day to day, the MBCPL has taught me to ask broad questions to really frame a task. I think I like to focus on the outcome to make sure I am solving/working on the right challenge.”
With candidates of the caliber that are reflected in the recipients of Esprit de Corp’s Top Women in Defence Awards, the outlook for Canada’s ability to tackle complex projects only gets brighter.
On May 8th, 2018, MBCPL will be hosting its 2nd Annual Seminar on Advances in Complex Project Leadership, which is the perfect showcase to understand the type of complex projects that candidates are taught to deliver successfully. The seminar is not only a resource for the Master’s candidates, but also an informative and educational event for government and industry leaders. The seminar provides the opportunity to hear from other accomplished leaders as they discuss how they have adapted their decision-making abilities and knowledge of global best practices to help them tackle some of the most dynamic and interesting complex projects in Canada.
This year’s seminar will be one of the premiere public events in the field of complex project education. It will be an ideal place to gain insight into the importance of professionalizing complex project leadership as well as learn how others have delivered large, complex and inherently risky projects in the Infrastructure, Information Management, Health and Defence sectors. The seminar provides attendees with the rare opportunity to network with a wide array of knowledgeable peers from across the public and private work spaces.
Master of Business in Complex Project Leadership
2nd Annual Advances in Complex Project Leadership Seminar