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Project Management in the Baltic States 2019

Shot of back of heads of audience in stadium watching project manager present at large conference

What a beautiful city Riga is! Described as the ‘Paris of the North’, it struck me as quiet, incredibly clean and with the widest pavements (boulevards?) I’ve ever seen. Everyone also seemed to be tall, but it wasn’t my imagination – a factsheet in the hotel informed me that Latvia has the fourth tallest men in the world and the tallest women!

So, why was I in Riga? I recently attended the International Scientific Conference on Project Management in the Baltic States at the University of Latvia. Now in its eighth year the stated aims of the conference are to "discuss results of scientific research in project management issues, to establish new contacts and networking between professionals involved in project management, and to enhance the capacity of project managers".

Project Management Development – Practice and Perspectives

The theme of the conference was Project Management Development – Practice and Perspectives. Attended by around 80 project management professionals and academics from Austria, Estonia, Germany, Holland, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and the USA, the conference provided a great opportunity to network with university academics and engage with the issues affecting project management in 2019.

Presentations covered a wide range of subjects, including a number of very interesting takes on the topic such as Project managers of different generations: how to deal with emotional intelligence issues; Gamification as a tool for project management teaching; Improvization in project management: lessons from jazz. Who would have thought you can combine jazz and project management?

Changing role of project management

A recurring theme during discussions was the changing role of the project manager and the project management team. The trend goes towards a more overarching, strategic role – echoing some of the key findings of AXELOS’ 2018 The Future Project Manager Report.

One of the presentations was entitled Project management in a cultural context and focused on the potential challenges that can affect the success of an international project team. The accompanying paper written by Christian Büll, Silke Palkovits-Rauter and Monika Beata Szabo concludes by saying “a project manager must be familiar with the peculiarities of the national context in order to consider essential intercultural skills of success even before the project is deployed. These can be supported through the selection of the right project staff, strong mentoring, the contextualization of project processes and project results, intensive verbal communication with all project managers, strengthening the bond by emphasizing the common past and much improvization talent”. Whilst these factors are important, a common language provided by certifications such as PRINCE2® and PRINCE2 Agile® must surely be key too.

The planned date for the 2020 conference is Friday 24 April and hopefully I’ll be able to make it again. Further details from this year’s event can be found at http://balticpmconference.eu/home.

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