The Sunday Lunch Project Manager Meets The Project Motivator - Ruth Pearce


In this months podcast interview, I chat with Ruth Pearce


I hope you enjoy the interview.


Thanks


Nige




This transcript was generated by https://otter.ai

Nigel Creaser
So today I've got Ruth Pearce. I'm going to give you a little bio about Ruth. For over 20 years. She's taken on large scale projects in financial services software houses, state government, education, and nonprofit organisations. And in 2011, Ruth and the team team with the winners of the PMI distinguished project award, she had found a niche at that time. She also launched a book called Project motivator recently called unlock the secrets of strengths based project management. And one of the comments from Ken Blanchard on the book was Ruth knows project management from the inside out, she knows the best project managers use their influence to engage their teams. And with that engagement comes motivation and commitment to the projects and to each other. Read, read be a project motivator and watch your project teams thrive. And I say again, that's from Ken Blanchard, a new one minute manager author. So another common I've got those Ruth has always used evidence based positive psychological psychology techniques, particularly character strengths, to build resilient I performing teams. Now she's a writer speaker, a group team coach, and a certified coach trainer. And she's continued to project manage with a passion, she brings bravery, bravery, curiosity, fairness, appreciation, and gratitude. All she does. Her motto is be helpful, be strong, be brave, and be curious. So, Ruth, welcome to the Sunday lunch project podcast.

Ruth Pearce 
Thank you very much, Nigel. And that was weird listening to you introduce me on my is he talking about me? But thank you, thank you very much.

Nigel Creaser
It's quite right. It's a I've seen a lot of your posts on Facebook and and had a quick start reading of project motivating intrigued to finish it as well. So it's it's an interesting point. And I think I think I may have talked to you before and kind of interview I want to do on these interviews is really get behind the, the, the project managers that we deal with, and not necessarily go into all that what are the tools we can use? What are the best way to do things, so we'll probably cover that and really find out a little bit about you and your background. Okay. Because I think a lot of that gives lessons to us all. So kind of a bit of background, where were you born,

Unknown
I was born in a place called map him in Kent, in southeast England, and met them met them is a village where the spelling is completely different to the pronunciation. So it's MEOPHAM. And it's surrounded by small towns and villages that similarly have names that are pronounced differently than they are spelt. So very confusing area of the country to grow up.

Unknown
So kind of clicks because I, in all our conversations before, I've kind of thought, there's a Britishness to the the way, you know, you're, you're, you're not in Kansas anymore, so So tell us a little bit about where you

Unknown
are now. So I'm in North Carolina now in Durham. So there's the some people know the triangle district, it's very well known for medical device startups and, and a lot of entrepreneurial type stuff. And it's the triangle because it's Raleigh Durham. And I guess Chapel Hill is the third part of the of the triangle. Now, I can think that I've never really thought about what the third part is. And it's a very sort of interesting area, because it's very diverse, in terms of the population, but also the activities down here, the kind of businesses that are here, there's a lot of schools weren't very well known, well respected schools, by which I mean, you know, colleges and universities in this area. And so it's really just a very sort of dynamic, interesting, nice to live. Well, I bet I have lived in a few different places since I came to the states. So I came to the states in 1995. As a two year stint, I came over I had to commit to two years because the organisation that brought me over, got me a visa. And so it was two years minimum. And I'm very glad I had that minimum, because after the first year, I was in New York, actually living in New York City and working in New York City. And after the first year, I was ready to go home, I did not feel that America was the place for me, I did not feel that New York City was the place for me, it was too busy and too fast and just overwhelming. But I had to stay another year. And that second year is when I sort of found my feet and found how much I love the place. And then I moved out of New York City. So further upstate, and then I moved to Massachusetts. Most people when they heroes in Massachusetts, they say, Oh yes, I've been to Boston. I actually lived as far from Boston as I can be and still be in Massachusetts. So it's a long haul for me to go to Boston, Massachusetts, a very sort of long, narrow state. And so it goes a long way. So I was actually closer to the New York border than I was to Boston. And then from Massachusetts, which I'd love to we lived in a beautiful place. We just got to the point where there's just too much winter in Massachusetts, and we're getting more winter, we've had some really tough winter periods with lots of snow and lots of shovelling and lots of cold we lived in a very old house that was kind of leaky, and was kind of hard to maintain the temperature in either the winter or the summer. So we decided to move somewhere. That's the weather's a little more temperate. So and it's gorgeous. I love it down here. So

Unknown
Wow. Sounds like

Unknown
you found your little bit in your thing your find your your initial ways to to just write

Unknown
Yes, exactly. Yeah.

Unknown
So the other, as you know, we've got the list of questions here. How about family? You family? I know you've mentioned your husband to me before?

Unknown
Yes. So and

Unknown
that is my low wolfing in the background, I brought him into the office in the hopes that that would actually keep him quiet. But apparently it's had the opposite effect.

Unknown
Milo from us.

Unknown
Hello, Milo. So he's been a little overstimulated this weekend, because we had lots of guests in the house. And so he loves it. But at the same time, it just really gets him a little hyped up. So I have a sister who still lives in the UK, she lives in Wimbledon. And I have a nephew and two nieces and my brother in law, they all live over there. And then over here, I have my husband and two stepkids who are in their 30s, some steps on and a stepdaughter, and then a grandson. So. And that's really the extent of my family. Now, I came from a very extended Irish family, but I lost touch with most of them a long time ago. And so yeah, it's a it's a small circle of family members that I have now.

Unknown
So you talk about your extended family when you're growing up. So where where did you grow up was it can that you grew up?

Unknown
Yeah. So I was born and raised in Kent,

Unknown
born at home in the house and grew up in that house lived there until I left home to go to university, I went to University of Bath and studied economics. And then from there, I went to the London School of Economics to do a master's in economic theory. And then things just kind of one thing led to another, I've been one of those people that just kind of follows the flow and see who sees what happens. I really admire people who have sort of a career goal, you know, and they take the steps towards it, I was talking to someone this weekend that was saying, she knows what she wants to be doing in two years time. And she, in order to get there, she has to do this now. And that will be three months of this, and then she's going to do something else. And she had this all mapped out. And I really admire that, but it's completely the opposite of me, I've just sort of gone from one thing to another, thoughtfully, you know, as opportunities have arisen, I've given a lot of thought to whether or not I want to pursue them. But I've just followed those opportunities. And I've always seen life as being a little bit of a conveyor belt, you know, and that stuff goes past and a lot of it we just let drift by. And then every so often, if we're attuned to it, we pick something off the conveyor belt. And it's, it can be to do with mood, I think it applies to almost everybody. I know, there are some people who have far less choices than I've had. And I'm very sort of mindful of that. But there is people still have choices, I think they forget that they still have choices that they can make. And so I've just been very fortunate that I have had some good things come along on the conveyor belt. And more importantly, I've noticed them. So I've sort of grabbed them as they've come. And one of those was the opportunity to move to the States. I'd been over in 1992, running a pilot programme at a bank, I was working for software house, and I was a programmer then. And that was the way I became a project manager was that my project manager for that pilot site was actually effectively deported from the US, right. So the choice was, they could either send someone from the UK from the software house to take over the project management, and leave me in the position of doing the technical work. Or they could ask me to do the project management because I already had a relationship with the client, and then send someone else to do the technical side. And that was what they they asked me to do. They said, You seem pretty organised, you seem to sort of, you know, have a sensible head on your shoulders, and the client likes you. So it probably makes the most sense if you're willing for you to continue with Project Management. And that, that is when I transitioned into project management as a very familiar storey. I know engineers have done the same thing. I know other technologists who sort of gravitated into project management, but I did, I really sort of got into it. I liked it. I liked the breadth of dealing with stakeholders, the wide variety of stakeholders that really appealed to me, when I was a programmer, I was dealing with a much narrower group of people. And so where it just sort of went, when I one thing led to another I was a project manager for 15 years before I even considered any kind of project management certification. So it's 2007 before I got my PMP with PMI, and I've kept that up. I personally haven't found very many situations where I needed to have the certification, but then having it you know, it's I don't know if I would have needed it if I didn't have it, if you see what I mean. So and then anyone who's looked at my LinkedIn profile, know that I love to get education and I love certifications. So it's nice, you know, it's fine for me that I wanted to get certifications. And

Unknown
yeah, I understand that. Yeah. It's kind of got a similar sort of view on those sort of things. It's, it's one of those things, it's like you go out in the rain, we haven't got an umbrella. That's if you go out with without an umbrella, that's when it's going to rain, isn't it? So? certifications, if you go out onto the job market aroma, you haven't got the certifications, that's when you're going to need them rather than have them and not need them and not have them and need them.

Unknown
Yes, exactly.

Unknown
So good. Just looping around there then. So as you say, that's a that's a familiar storey for for a lot of PN. and project management people I know, personally, my personal storey is very similar. But when you were growing up in Kent, in

Unknown
man, I met them.

Unknown
I've written it down, and I can't even say

Unknown
what was it? You wanted to be there?

Unknown
I had no idea.

Unknown
I something to do with math, I think because that math because I was always pretty good at that. But I was pretty nonspecific about what that looked like it you know, what a what a something to do with maths would be? I don't think I've ever really had a particularly long time horizon. So

Unknown
yeah, I was saying before.

Unknown
Yeah, exactly. And I was always sort of looking to the next milestone, which I guess is maybe somewhat, you know, sort of aligns me with Project Management. But I was looking to the next milestone, how am I going to get there, and then I would reach that milestone, and then I'd set the next one kind of thing. And a lot of time in school. I was really following other people's plans, you know, there was this expectation that I would do I levels and that having done all levels, I would do a levels and I would go to university and and it was I was in my late teens before I woke up one morning and said, well hang on a second, I've got to consider whether that's what I want to do. Yeah. And then, yeah, I've just I don't recall having any specific thing that I dreamed of being when I grew up, including project managers that it's not as though I woke up every morning and thought, well, project manager, would that be a really cool thing to be. I just, you know, saw different opportunities. And when sometimes I made decisions based on what I didn't want to do. And I got, I was working for an organisation at one point, and they outsourced our department and I was offered the opportunity to partner up with a couple of people and start our own company. And I decided that I didn't, I'd loved working with these people. But I didn't see us as a good fit for start doing a start up. And so I walked away from that had to find something else, you know, so sometimes it was walking away from something sometimes it was working towards something. But yeah, kind of opportunistic. That's been my style, I think.

Unknown
Yeah. Yeah. grab whatever appears

Unknown
as long as it works, right? So how did you get into the the economics and that what made you make that decision?

Unknown
So as I mentioned, I was a, I was very interested in math. I went through a period of time I this this is a storey that some people say to me, we shouldn't tell this storey and then other people say, Oh, you should tell the storey because it will inspire others. So I went through a period of time in school where I was very disillusioned. I did in high school. And I in particular, I wanted to study French at a level. And of course, you know, a lot of people who are listening to podcasts now don't even know what a levels are. But I wanted to do a level French not particularly to get a qualification. But just because I loved the language. And I really loved the French literature. And so I wanted to do this as a fourth a level, with no particular concern about grades, not understanding at the time that of course schools don't want kids in classes that don't care about grades, because that's obviously not going to be good for them and their

Unknown
statistics or whatever. And I'll changed either.

Unknown
No, I don't know. And I think it's got worse, if anything. So there was there was a bit I'd started, I started doing the French class. And then a couple of other things came along, and I was doing some sort of extra curricular stuff. And the school said, you have to give up the French. And I spoke to my parents about it. And they said yet, you have to give up the French, they all kind of agreed. And I just, I just was not just lost all interest in school. And I was not as I didn't attend as much as I probably could have done, let's put it that way. It was very cool, because our bus used to draw outside the back of the school, and the back of the school was outside of the teachers. And so sometimes I would just get off the bus and hightail it into town. And other times I would actually make it in and sign in, and then just kind of walk out the back gate and go back. So so I didn't get the grades in school to go and do a straight math degree somewhere or not certainly not a school that I wanted to go to. But I did get offered a place doing economics at math University. And they were piloting a class a programme that was much more mathematically oriented. So it was mathematic, a lot of mathematical economics and modelling and sort of research based stuff doing econometrics. And I wasn't I didn't have the grades to get on to that full class, but I could take all their classes as electives. And so I went, I went to both did an economics degree and economic theory, and then did all the electives with this other programme, which was just there were six people on in that class at the time, because it was a pilot, and six people plus me. And so it was the perfect sort of blend for me of doing get getting in somewhere that was a good school and, you know, a good programme to be in and at the same time gravitating towards the more mathematical topics. And so that that's how I ended up with economics. And then I did well enough that my professor there said, you should really consider doing a master's in economics, you should go to the London School of Economics and do a Masters there. So I was like, Okay, that sounds interesting. So I'll go and do that, which was an amazing experience. I didn't really enjoy the degree so much. But I was in a class of 100 people from all over the world. There were I think there were only six people in my cross that we're actually from the UK. So I mixed with a great variety of people from elsewhere. And that was the most fascinating thing to me. I mean, I just revelled in this culture of, you know, a big mixed variety of culture. So that was me and economics. So

Unknown
so then you said that you were a programmer. So did you go straight in from from from doing the university into that kind of role? Or did you

Unknown
know, I did, I did do a couple of I had a couple of roles where I was an economist, I worked for Cazenove, stockbrokers in the city, and decided I didn't really like backpack lifestyle, not for one thing. It was a very early morning lifestyle. And I'm not a

Unknown
morning person.

Unknown
Even at 20, something I was not a morning person.

Unknown
And that so I worked for stockbrokers, I worked for an organisation that actually created econometrics, modelling software for people to use. And then I worked for the wrong Institute with British architects. And so I was the economist and did some of the sort of market research type stuff in that department with with the Department of three people that supported the British architects. And that was a really nice job. And then from there, I took an aptitude test account, someone said to me, You should take the aptitude test to be is as they were called, at the time Business Information Systems, because they didn't require a computer science degree for you to go into programming you had, you just had to pass their aptitude test. So I took that and got in and they did their own training course. And everything I learned RPG, again, some people will never have heard of that. But an IBM, IBM mid frame, mid range, programming language. And so I worked in that. And so then I spent, I guess I was six years, five or six years as a programmer, and I was on the help desk for a while supporting clients that were using the software that we produced and, and stuff like that. So yeah, that that and then I made that transition into project management and never looked back. So

Unknown
obviously with that, did you give you a with a big ass? Did I give you a chance to work on quite a few different, different industries? And I guess with the project management, you probably weren't quite cross from enjoyed it.

Unknown
Yeah, so actually, that so the software house that I worked for was exclusively financial services, a specialised in foreign branches of bank. So it would be like a, if it was a German bank in New York, they use that software is called Midas. And they had a lot of I used to work for Barclays. And when you said BIS I'm sure.

Unknown
That's right. I remember Barclays being one of the clients. So

Unknown
it run up bell.

Unknown
So what a coincidence. Yes, so I worked for them. And actually, what I did was I became very specialised in one, it was a modular system. And I became very specialised in one module, which was the customer lending module, I pretty much knew that module inside out and upside down and backwards. And I was occasionally sent to client, although I was on their Help Help Desk, I was occasionally sent to clients that were having challenges with the software. And you know, whether it was working for them, I remember I went to a brewery company had a beer brewing company, because they were using the software in a very different way. And so I was helping them figure out how to make it work for them. And I went to Madrid to bvp to help them address some issues they were having with the software out there, and, and all that kind of thing. So I was very much in financial services, which is how I made my transition to the US is that I, you know, transition to a bank. So I've done a lot of projects in financial services. Some of you mentioned state government and the nonprofit and various other places. But a lot of work in financial services, and particularly in securities trading, which is what I moved on to was actually securities trading systems became my thing. So

Unknown
sounds really interesting and varied, different roles that you've been in that.

Unknown
Yeah, and that's one of been one of the beauties of just kind of following the thread, you know, and seeing what happens is that I've I think I've enjoyed a lot more variety and what I do than I would have done if I'd set my sights on something. And variety is very important to me, I think that switching around learning new things, I have a huge love of learning. And so going into something new and having to learn the new environment, the new systems, you know, the the new sometimes the new legal ramifications, regulatory stuff, I've done a lot of work with regulatory systems and stuff like that. So it's, it's meant it's been very, although I say I'm in financial services, the variety of clients I've worked for, and particularly the variety of projects I've worked on, is enormous. So cool.

Unknown
So talking about some of this for I think you meant you mentioned your project that you kind of stepped down up on the how and why PME sort of thing. And as you say, it's a very common route that we take into project management, especially in the IT industry from a from a programming point of view. And just someone someone saying, Do fancy managing that for me.

Unknown
Tell me about that first project, what was it like?

Unknown
Well, I was actually going to say that it's interesting that you bring up the thing about the sort of the accidental project manager or the other person sort of stumbling into it, because I've been having conversations with people recently that are in different industries. Well, one person I've been talking to quite a lot is in the construction industry in major projects, large scale projects. And they've been pointing out to me that in some areas, project management is integrated into their training. So with an engineering degree or something like that, quite often, there's a project management element built in to the training and certification that they do. And it seems to be airing is like it, where that project management piece isn't included in the sort of basic education of someone who's in in it. So that's, and so I'm sort of playing around with that idea in my head and trying to decide whether I agree that accidental project management is more common in it than it is in other industries. And of course, it is very young. So that may explain parts of it.

Unknown
I think it might be, I think of it as

Unknown
interest in it, because I did, as part of my training years back, I did them part of the Open University BSc. They had one module, which was on project management, which you could do, which allowed you kind of gave you a step towards the certification. I can't remember all the details now just quite a long time ago. But that was within the computing degree, but it was in there. But I think it does seem to be that as a that, but that was a specific general computing wellness, a lot of people and come into the the IT industry not necessarily doing it specific degrees, do they either, you get rich recruitment programmes, I see that where I work out where you'll get people who aren't necessarily it is being their first skill. It's just a general greyed recruitment. So whereas as you say, with the large engineering, the large construction programmes, generally you need a relevant degree to get into those industries first.

Unknown
Right. Right, exactly.

Unknown
Yeah, so it's an interesting question for me, and I'm really sort of playing around with it at the moment. And I've been, you mentioned that by post on social media, my favourite, my favourite place to be is LinkedIn. And they've been a lot of really interesting discussions going on in the last few days about a couple of things. One, is that whole question of, is project management a thing? You know, is project management actually a separate profession or skill set? Or is it a profession? Or is it a skill set that's contained in something else? That's one thing that's been going on? And then the whole piece about process versus people? And how much? Do we want to be focusing on project management processes? And how much is it really about engagement and emotional intelligence and stuff like that? And all of those things are fascinating to me. But you asked me the question of how that first project was, the thing that was the most interesting to me about that project was the interaction with the people. That's why I found I liked project management was because now my job was to take account of people's varying interests, varying interest in terms of what was their interest in the project outcome, but also their level of interest in knowing what was going on with the project. In the meantime, you know, how accessible were they if you had, if we had questions about their expectations of the project, there are some people who are right there with you answering questions they kind of mentor you through and business sponsors were really engaged this course is endless things that people write about how the secret of success on a project is, so have a really engaged sponsor, excuse me. And then, you know, you've got these other people who want a particular outcome, but they really don't want to be bothered with the detail of the project along the way, you know, and then you've got everything in between, and navigating, that turned out to be the thing that I was most interested in and most engaged with. And then, you know, I am a pretty organised person, I can keep a lot of things in my head. So from a practical point of view, the organisation task management, who's doing what, when are they supposed to deliver it, that was not too hard for me, even as I got onto much larger projects. So that side of it, when I was making that transition to that first project, the organisational side, I felt pretty good about but the but the people side was both fascinating and really challenging to me, because I'd never had to do it before, you know, I'd be in a programme where someone would say, code this, you know, and then test it, code it, test it, show it to someone. And so there wasn't so much interaction with people and taking account of other people's needs and wants and, and their communication styles and all of that kind of thing. So that was a fascinating transition for me.

Unknown
So how did you? How did you go about that transition? What did you do to get get yourself those new skills, obviously, that you were trying to

Unknown
work? So we do have to bear in mind that this is 25 years ago, so my recollection, maybe a little? And if there's anyone out there that remembers me making that transition, you know, and they want to step up and say, No, that's not what she did at all. That's fine, too. Really, I, I focused on gathering as much information as I could from the people on the back side. So we were piloting something, it was a software house piloting new piece of software at the bank. And so the we were kind of partnering with them. It's like a business partnership to develop some use new part of the software. And so my focus was very much on what were they looking for? Why were they looking for it? You know, why did they need it? And in particular, how transferable was that because at the end of the day, as much as they might want something, the business client in a business partnership like that, is looking for things to differentiate them from other people. And I think this is a big challenge with these kind of software, partnerships that go on with a business and a software house, working side by side to develop a piece of software, because the business interest is in differentiation. And the software house interest is in homogeneity, because they want to sell it to other people. Yeah. And so you don't want it? Yeah, you don't want it to be too differentiated. Because one of the problems is, if you make it very differentiated as well, then your business client is going to say, well, that's ours, you know, it's our IP, essentially, and you can't sell it to somebody else, because then they lose their competitive advantage. And I've been on a few projects where there was that kind of partnership over the years. And I've seen that difficulty each time is that, I think, is quite a significant misunderstanding. So sometimes, between the two partners as to what they're going to get out of the relationship and who's expecting what, and there's this constant tug, I felt this constant tug, while I was on that project, from the client point of view, saying, well, I want more and more, more, more more, because this is going to help me make my business more successful. And the software house saying, well, we want to minimise what we developed for you, you know, those clients specific, recognising that you've partner with us. So we need to give you something and and that tension is quite tough to navigate. And as I say, I think very often the two parties to that agreement, and not fully aware that that tension exists. And everybody thinks that they're going to get what they want, at the end of the day, not realising that it's not the same as their partner wants. And so that that was really what I focused on a lot was the sort of, I was always checking in with head office, you know, so the client wants this, should I be building this? You know, should I be having the programme or programme this? Or is that just too esoteric? Or is that too specific to them, that it's something that we just wouldn't be able to market. And that that was really what I focused on a great deal in that first project and less on the task management side, because that seemed to run itself fairly well as it was that as long as we were clear as to what the tasks were that task management seemed to be quite straightforward. And I again, I think that's pretty true on projects as well, I think the difficulty project managers have with task management is very often that we're not all clear what the tasks really are. And so there's, you know, that that's when you have that sense of cat herding, I think if everybody's clear as to what the tasks are, and what you're moving towards. Most people are pretty self sufficient, and will get their work done. You know, most people have a sense of pride in their work. And somebody mentioned in something recently about project managers driving projects at him, I mentioned it in my book, actually, that, I think if you're having to drive a project, and and this can be semantics, but if you're having to drive a project, that's very high energy use for you. And it basically implies that people are behind it already, you know, you're having to push them towards something that is hard to accomplish. And I don't think we should be driving, I think we're supposed to be facilitating, you know, we're supposed to be removing obstacles so that people can get stuff done. And as long as those obstacles are removed, people will get stuff done, you know, because they they know what they need to do they have the expertise, you're usually using people who know their stuff, at least to some degree. And you know, you're helping them make progress in the most efficient way. If you haven't stand behind them and say you are doing this right, you are doing this right. Well, then there's, there's some problem there that probably needs to be addressed in a different way.

Unknown
you've either got the wrong people there, or you've got the you're asking the wrong things on.

Unknown
Exactly, yeah.

Unknown
So kind of leading on from that what what was the largest Pete project that you've managed? And kind of what did you learn from that project? Um, the largest you define largest, whether that be money, people complexity, change the culture, whatever is a definition, it's yours, your project?

Unknown
Um, well, I suppose the answer I would have to give is that I can't define my largest project, I've worked on a lot of projects that are large in one form or another. So some have been large in terms of especially working in the financial industry, some have been large in terms of the amount of money they would be pushing through the systems, but the actual implementation itself, maybe, you know, that might be like a, let's say, a two $3 million project, it might be more than that might be an $8 million project, but it might be responsible for on a daily basis, transferring, you know, 150 billion dollars a day. So if it goes wrong, it's not the cost of the implementation. That's the concern. It's the reputational costs of the client. So it's large in terms of reputational stand, and their customer experience and all of that. So that's one version of large, I would say, I worked on one project where that was very much the case, we were switching out an old piece of software for doing securities trading for the new version of the software, which was very different. And so there was already a large client base using the existing software, software. And at the same time, the client I was working for was taking on a new function in financial services. So they were also creating a new product on this new platform. So they were doing all of them at the same time. And it was large, because there were a large number of people within the bank impacted by this in one form or another and involved in testing and things like that. It because it was a foreign branch, or a branch of a foreign bank, they had a lot of stuff that had to go back to head office. So there was a lot of interaction with head office, we had language challenges, because we had some people in America, some people in Canada, some people in France, the head office was in France. So a lot of the work we were doing involve talking to people that officially the language is English, but very often it made more sense to talk in French to make sure that they really understood what we were asking them to do.

Unknown
You're a level came in handy, then.

Unknown
The a level I never did. Yeah. Yeah. So I was, I mean, that was an amazing project. It was really, really very intensive, lots of long weeks and long nights and stuff like that. But a really great experience in terms of seeing how teams work really well together, taking account of different cultures, because of the different locations, we were working with a vendor, and their the vendor team, a lot of them were based in India. So we really, it really was a multicultural project, which was very interesting. And also regulatory differences. I mean, people think of culture, as you know, everything from religious practices to the food you eat to the practices you have at home, but also the regulatory framework, we're working in the US where basically, people can be asked to work as many hours as they want up to a point. In France, they're very regulated about how many hours people can work, how much overtime they can do when they can do that overtime, we were doing weekend work, they weren't supposed to do weekend work. So all of that sort of juggling of, and then you get into different holiday patterns as well, you know, they'd be they have grown homes in in August. And of course, we we slow down a bit in August, but not to the same degree. We had people in India who had their own holiday patterns and celebrating Diwali and things like that. And so it was really interesting to see how you integrate all of those people to work together. So that's one of the largest projects I've ever worked on. On the other hand, I've worked on a project where I personally had a team that was much larger. So that was me managing a various components within a very large project. And then on the other hand, I've worked with I lead a team of 110 people, we were one programme within a portfolio of programmes or not supposedly marching in lockstep towards getting a whole new suite of systems implemented. And so that was large in a different way. Because of my my responsibility for 110 people in to locate Well, actually five locations, but country wise in the US and in India. So dealing with timezone differences and all of that kind of stuff. So there's Yeah, I've experienced many different versions of large the projects I'm on right now, it's a very small team. But our email distribution list is a million people. So

Unknown
you know, that's pretty large as well. Right? So it's it large is just, yeah.

Unknown
How are you? interacting with them? Yeah, absolutely.

Unknown
I think the phrase large project they have left in there is kind of a, just as a discussion point, if nothing else, because it is it as you say, one person's life project is another person's quite small. And depending on the skills and team and what's going on in a different organisation sharing it will make a massive difference. Right. This one, I think, is less Emotiv, though it's kind of what is your biggest screw up? And what did you learn?

Unknown
You'll

Unknown
never screwed up. So I can't answer that question. What What is my biggest screw up? And what did I learn? Well, it's funny because I was interviewed recently by someone. And they asked me something very similar. So the, in my first job, the people who brought me over to the US in 1995, we were implementing a financial services product. And when we implemented it, there was something that I made a mistake on now, in the grand scheme of things wasn't the worst mistake in the world, you know, no one's life was at risk or anything like that. There wasn't even as it turned out a huge financial risk either. But, but to me at the time, with my level of experience, it felt like he huge mess up. And now I look back, and I'm sort of right, yeah, with my experience. Now, I would have sorted it out much more easily and much more smoothly, but at the time, it was, it felt like a very large mistake. And the branch management of the company that I was working for, were looking for who that person was that made that era, and they came, you know, hunting, witch hunting, maybe. And my boss, who ran the IT department said to management, this is my team, they do essentially do my bidding, I don't think he put it quite like that. But you know, that I am responsible for what they do. And whatever problem you have, you bring it to me, you know, the buck stops with me kind of thing. And the rest of his, he essentially said the rest of it is none of your business, you know who it is within my team that made a mistake, or didn't make a mistake, or whatever it is, is you have to rely on me to take care of it appropriately. And that was a huge learning lesson for me that I carried with me, my father was like that, as well. My father was someone who it didn't matter what his staff did, it was on him, you know, he took it on the chin, and then he would sort it out with them later. And my boss sorting it out, involved him, taking me into his office, which had glass walls on three sides, closing the blinds, you know, and let him rip and telling me that I can't You can't make any mistake or act like that, again, kind of thing. But I so appreciated that it was between him and me. And once he had told me what he thought, and made recommendations on how to do things better in the future, and to discuss with me what steps I was going to take to make sure that that kind of era didn't occur again, he was done with it, you know, he made his point. And that was it kind of thing. And we were done. We carried on as normal. And I so appreciated that and so I've really tried to incorporate that into every project that I've worked with is there, I, I am not going to jump all over you because of a failure or a mistake, or as long as we learn from it, you know, I will take it on the chin and you you have protection, I think that is part of the role as a project manager is to provide that sort of umbrella of protection for your team and let them do the work. Let them do the experimentation, experimentation, particularly in it, you know, a lot of what I've been doing is IT projects, particularly in it, there has to be experimentation, you have to prototype you have to do things that don't work to find the things that really do. And so that was a huge learning lesson for me to see that in action. Like say my father had sort of my father was that way, but I never saw it in action live because you know, I didn't work with him. But seeing my boss do that, I was like, yeah, that's the person I want to be. I want to be the person that doesn't ever throw anyone under the bus?

Unknown
Yeah, I think I think it is that old adage, I've heard is the fact that if the projects going well, the team are doing a fantastic job. If the projects going badly i'm doing i'm the problem who's not getting the project delivered? And that's kind of where you sit in that project role, don't you? The team are doing a great job. They're delivering it. But if something goes wrong, you're the one who needs to sort it out. And that's you, right? It's that that umbrella cover is their pastor having the student conversations with the team and kind of encouraging them and teaching them and coaching them so differently. So just leading on from there kind of bit more. But more positive. What What was your there's two questions I've got here. What was your proudest project delivery? So your project that you actually sat back at the end of it going? That was brilliant, and I absolutely felt so proud of me, my team, whatever, whatever it was that made you proud. And what was your proudest achievement that wasn't necessarily about a project delivery itself, but in relation to your projects,

Unknown
and

Unknown
proudest delivery? I don't know, there are so many. I mean, that project that I talked about, which was for a French bank, one of the things that that I loved so much in that was that we started out with a big problem in terms of testing because of turnaround times for the people in head office, that they couldn't, we would feed them files, and they needed to feed back the results. And they couldn't do it in less than I think I can't remember exactly. Now. They told us it was a few days, like they couldn't turn it around in less than four days or something like that. And the team work together to really analyse what the delays were and what the obstacles were to turning it around. And we got it down to 18 hours. So and that really made a huge difference to our testing cycles, and what we could test and how we could test and how accurate the testing was. So that and just seeing the team come to that conclusion that there was another way of doing it, and that they could make this work better that that was a huge one. Something similar happened to me on the project where I had 110 people on my projects in India and the US was we facing similar challenges with testing timelines and testing schedules. And the team brainstormed and came up with a really creative way of refreshing the databases, you know, in much less time than then they were when we started out. So those kind of things where people start out from a position of this is just how it is and we can't make it any better. And then they make it better. Anyway, I always love those moments. I think anytime we've delivered on in the end of the project, the end product, there's there's always a sense of pride, because there's also that sense of pride that you survived it when I've worked on some very intense projects and getting to the end of it and being able to say, well, we got back in and we did it, there been a couple of projects where things have gone live. And there's been quite a long period of sort of handheld holding and clean up afterwards. And getting to the end of that and being able to say, you know what, this is now running smoothly, and everything is good. That's been fantastic couple of those projects, it was inevitable because we were switching one system out and putting a new system in in, you know, sort of with the business already running. And so there's always that some things can be converted other things you kind of have to manually handle until everything is fully moved over. And so those things where we get through to the end, and we're able to say you know what, this is BAU. Now, those moments, so all of those, they all come down to that for me, they always come down to seeing the team pull together and act as a team. I really, really love those moments. And then my personal personal moment of pride. I think the time that somebody said to me that I should write my book, it was someone from my team, actually a couple of people from the team that I was working with, said, you know, you should write a book about the and to have someone say that, that maybe I had something that was worth sharing. That was a moment of pride for me to hear that. So and they spurred me on to do it. So yeah, those are the ones I think.

Unknown
So I was just saying then to myself, obviously what you just said this perfect segue into the fact that my next question about what made you start writing and blogging? So had you thought about writing blogging before or anything like that before your team member mentioned it to you? I'm

Unknown
not really at that I'd had taught there were a few things that I I did with the team, you know, that we did collectively, that I made notes on. And I kind of wrote down what we've done. Like at one point, we did a survey to see what people or people's feeling was about how the team was working, and what things are working on what what were. And I made notes about how the survey worked for sort of a future reference. And then somebody outside my organisation asked me about it, they said, because we I was talking over dinner or something one day, and I said we'd had this feedback from team members. And these were How did you get that feedback from team members and they'd seen things like engagement surveys at the company level, but they they've not really seen a team do it on its own. And I'm sure lots of other people have done it. And I don't think you know, we didn't invent anything new. But it was it wasn't something this person was familiar with. And I thought I should make a note that in case anyone ever else, anyone else ever asked about it. And so I started to notes and things down. And then we did the work with character strengths, which I love so much. And that I definitely made, you know, I started to write a few things not to share necessarily, but just for me to be able to remember what we did and how we created a team profile and how we discussed the team profile and all that kind of stuff. So I started sort of noting things down with no particular plan of what I was going to do with them. And then yeah, really what triggered it was, you know, a couple of people saying, well write something. And I guess in the back of my mind, I thought, I hope one day I will have something to write about, you know, I liked the idea of actually writing a book about something. And I've always enjoyed I did a law degree. And one of the things that I enjoyed about the law degree was I learned how to write in a very structured way so that I can more effectively get my message across kind of thing. So. So I'd had the idea of people say that everyone has one book in them. And I always hope that one day I would have I hope I've got more than one book. But I so I hoped I would get to that point. But I hadn't specifically thought about writing and I hadn't specifically thought what it would be like to write something. So yeah, they they prompted that?

Unknown
How did you find that journey, the actual writing of it and go into the publishing and all that sort of stuff. Um,

Unknown
I

Unknown
do want to tell us a little bit about that. I think I'm right in saying that you've, you've got the project motivated. And there's another book that you did as well,

Unknown
well, so I'm a contributing author to a book about coaching. So there's a book called coaching perspectives, eight, and it's a group of people each contributed a chapter on their thoughts about coaching, or their experience of coaching and how coaching works, how it's beneficial and things. So I've got a chapter in that, which is actually about the similarities and the similarities between project management and coaching. And how coaching skills can benefit project managers. That's what my chapter is about. But the book itself, so the writing, I started off by doing what I think most people do is, you know, sort of writing in my spare time, and I found that there, it was hard, because you would get, you know, maybe a few evenings where I'd get some writing done. And then it if things got really hectic on my projects, then it might be five or six or seven weeks before I really felt like I had another time to do it. And people quite often said to me will just you know, make sure you do 10 minutes a day, write something every day, and I just, I never got into that habit. And so I was finding it difficult to sort of string the ideas together. And then for various reasons, I, I moved to a sort of different role within the organisation I was working for, and then I came home and I said to my husband one day, you know, I think I would like to have a go at this of doing it properly. But I think I need to do it properly, you know, I need to take the time, and just do the writing and see what happens. And he said, or I also, you know, try it for a few months. So that's what I did. And then I was very fortunate that I made contacts with people who made suggestions in terms of how I might go about publishing it. And obviously one option was to self publish. And then the other option was to find a publisher, which is notoriously difficult. And most publishers require that you go through an agent, so you don't just send your manuscript to them and say, Hey, publish my book, you have an agent, and they do the legwork for you. And there is no to self publishing, which is I think, partly why people do self publish, even if you hire someone to do all the sort of interior layout and everything for your book. You know, you're talking around at the time I was talking around 10 grand to self publishing 10 grand to to get an agent and have them sort of take my book around. And somebody mentioned my publisher, Barrett Kohler, and I had it up on a post it note on my wall. And I knew I'd read some books by people who published through Barrett Cola, but I wasn't particularly familiar with them as a publisher. And then I went to a conference. And it happened that the one publisher that was selling books at the conference was the international positive psychology Association Conference in Montreal in 2017. The, the one publisher, that was there was Barrett Cola, and I was standing, I was waiting to buy one of the books, and I was standing there and I looked at this sign, and I said, Oh, Eric Cohler, I'm supposed to check you guys out. I didn't realise I was talking to the director of editing. And he said, Oh, why, you know, why register, check us out. And I explained that someone had recommended them and that they thought it might, they might be the kind of publisher that I should approach. So we had a meeting at the conference, you know, we carved out some time and met up over coffee and had a chat. And he said, you put in a proposal and everything explained how to do it, he said he would, he would help me navigate the process, you know, of going through the proposal process. And it turned out that Eric cola had just acquired the arm of a consulting firm that used to publish project management books, they had acquired the project management arm, and they were looking for authors who could write stuff that kind of crossed over their current their previous specialties, which was sort of Business, Business, self help positive psychology sort of realm, and project management. And I said, Oh, well, my books, kind of a combination of both. And so that just kicked off that conversation. And I sent in a proposal and they assigned me an editor to help me figure out to redo the proposal and make the case and it got approved, then it's, it's an arduous, it's not something you take on lightly, I mean, I didn't realise how intense it was going to be as you do lots and lots of writing, and then you send it to them. And various people review it, and they give you comments back. And then your editor will say something along the lines of it's really nice, but about is followed by the, you know, in my case, the 27, things that probably would benefit from being changed. So I went away and kind of rewrote a big chunk of the book and cut out parts that were

Unknown
superfluous or repetitive, and came back with a second draught. And they said, Yep, this is much more, you know, aligns with, with what we think will be useful and popular. And I'm, I have to say I am much preferred the second version of the book, I'm really glad I had a really good editor. And I'm really glad that she made the comment she did, because I feel she really helped it become a much better book. And so that was that. And then you think you're done, you've written the book, you're the author, you've done all the writing and everything's brand. But you have to help decide what the cover is going to look like. Because they want to cover that the author is going to really appreciate and you have to look at edit after edit after edit until you never want to see your book again. And then they send you one more copy. Say, let's take a last look. And I was like, Oh, my God, it's got to be good enough at this point, you know, because I just, I couldn't read it anymore. And then there's stuff like creating, there's going to be an audio book, the audiobook will come out in April, where you have there are certain parts of the book that can't be read as is like, you can't read a table? No. So they come back to the author and they say, Can you write a script for the narrator to use to describe this part of the book? So now you're writing that you have to get endorsements? You know, so you have to go to people and say, Can you read my book ahead of time, say how much you like it, and, and that's on a time scale. So you can't just say, you know, get back to me, when you've had time to read it, you need your endorsements by a certain point in time. And although they all those steps that now I'm familiar with, I would plan differently, but they were totally unfamiliar to me, you know, in the first place. So it's a, it's a very interesting process is obviously another form of project. I've just been a project manager for someone else for another organisation that's producing a book. And I do think that my experience of writing my own book helped with that project management piece, because, you know, I know what the pieces are that are going to be upcoming so. And I, I liked it very much. I enjoyed it very much. I hated it at times, and I hated it more, because there were times when I just got stuck, you know, you, you I was some content and having a hard time coming up with it, you know, and there's a lot of research, and very much an evidence based person. So I'm not writing a book, that's just I didn't want to write a book. That was just my opinion. So I had to go back and verify my sources. Make sure that my citations were right, and all of that kind of stuff. So yeah, it's it's a pretty big project.

Unknown
But one that's been rewarding from the side of it.

Unknown
Yes. And I guess when you come back to that original question about what's one that you're proud of? Yeah, I am proud that, that I got it done, you know, and I kept going and persevered with it, because the whole project is probably two years to get it to publication, you know, and now there's post publication, they're speaking and, you know, getting the word out about it and stuff like that. So it doesn't stop on publication date. So,

Unknown
no, it just keeps going. So

Unknown
the last few I have a last few couple of questions, very quick fat quickfire ones, was the last project pod project related podcast you listen to, if you listen to podcast,

Unknown
and I listened to the podcast by Joe Papoose PMO, Joe, he's had he, he has one that's called Project Management, office hours. And he's based in Tucson, Arizona. And they're very interesting. He gets pairs of project managers on and then they talk a bit about their own topics. But what usually happens is he pairs them up quite well, so that they're interested in some overlapping content. And then what usually happens is they start to sort of talk to each other and he he kind of is able to sit back and and the exchanges you hear between the two project managers can be really fascinating because it kind of one person will say something and it triggers an idea and the other one and that Oh, yeah, that's that. You know, here are my thoughts on that. So I I like that one. I do. I'm trying to listen to more podcasts. And I've been looking for more I know, at least Stevens who's in Australia. She's got one which I'm going to start listening to, but I haven't yet and yeah, there's there's a few Andy Kaufman, I've listened to a few of Eddie Kaufman's once he has some really great guests on as well. So cool,

Unknown
cool. And most last project blog, you read

Unknown
define blog,

Unknown
written word on the internet,

Unknown
regular basis on a regular LinkedIn post. And people blog on LinkedIn, if they blog on Facebook years, they blog on, on whatever, their own website.

Unknown
So I read something on LinkedIn every day. There's always something about project management. Because I like the discussions more than their blogs on that in that regard. I do read pm world 360. I'm a contributor now to that, but pm or 360 has a bunch of invited contributors and we each contribute have a blog or two a month. But because my interest is really more in the people side, I'm not. I'm not so fascinated by the there's a lot of stuff out there about project process. And I think the a lot of people covering project process and, you know, that is covered and is I that's not my thing. A lot of the kind of blogs I read are actually more to do with behavioural science and engagement. So I read stuff that comes out by the various shooting character, which and we've been full disclosure, I'm actually a project manager, their project manager at the moment, but so you know, I read stuff that they blog about, I read some of the research that comes out of Gallup, you know, where they're talking about level of engagement and performance of managers in organisations, I read Harvard Business Review, a lot of content on there, and Forbes and stuff like that. So I'm more articles, I would say them blogs, I don't so much. I don't so much follow individual people, band themes. And so I'll go looking for people writing about the particular theme I'm interested in at the moment.

Unknown
Search the hashtags and things. Yeah.

Unknown
Then a follow up. So

Unknown
couple of final questions.

Unknown
What top tip would you give to PM who's out there? Now who wants to become a better PM?

Unknown
I would say make sure your dogs not in your office?

Unknown
Once?

Unknown
Milo doesn't like that question, does he

Unknown
think he's calling now? I've just pulled his hair. So that sort of triggered of sitting down? So that's good. Huh? Well, I think the tip I would give is don't get too tangled up in process you need you need process and structure. But when it comes down to it projects are about people, you know, people get projects done. process doesn't get projects done. And so really paying attention to what do you bring to a project? What are the the traits that you bring? What strengths Do you have, and then what strengths are the people around you have and really take a good look, because their strengths are not necessarily directly aligned with their function. So I have many not to say that they're not good at their function, like I've had programmers, you know, been great programmers. But when you really sit down with them and explore their knowledge, or explore their passion, or explore their, their personality, strengths, they it turns out, there are other things that they can contribute to the project that are really beneficial. And when you tap into those, those people become much more engaged because they feel so sort of seen and appreciated, that they just do everything better. You know, they do they contribute more on all fronts, in terms of their formal function, and also the informal function of bringing their strengths to work. Brilliant.

Unknown
I think I'm going to pop that comment of people get projects done system get projects done on in the show notes as a highlight because I think that's a great, a great point. Really good. And the last question, I'll let you get on with the rest of your day, and give my listeners attention. What would you say? If you were talking to you on that day when you said yes to taken on that project when your other persons left the States? And you said, Yes, I'll do it. What? What if you had a chance now to get just say, Tell yourself one thing, what would you say?

Unknown
I would actually tell myself that there wasn't even reason to hesitate as long as I did. Grab it, do it, see where it goes.

Unknown
Brilliant.

Unknown
That will be it.

Unknown
Thank you very much. for your time today. Me absolute loads of time. And I really, really appreciate it. If people want to get hold your book, I'll put some links in the show notes, etc. But if they want to follow you, where's the best place to get hold of you follow you on social media and all those or email or whatever, where you

Unknown
go? Well, I'll definitely send you links. The best place to follow me in terms of what I'm saying about things is LinkedIn. I'm not a Facebook person, I used to be on Facebook, and I have kind of disconnected from that. Now, I do things show up on Twitter as well, but only as far as I share them from LinkedIn. So LinkedIn is where I'm very active. People are welcome to email me at Ruth Pierce, which was RUTHPEARCE. At project motivated. com. So they're welcome to email me with any questions or thoughts or suggestions or, and if people have suggestions about what the next book should be, I'm all up for that. And then I'm just about to launch a new website, which is all www dot project motivated, calm, and there'll be blogs on there. And there's also going to be I'm gradually building up resources, free resources for project managers to use to be able to engage their teams and, and actually work with her via Character Strengths survey. So yes, I am happy for people to contact me through any of those routes. And as I said, I will send you a set of links that have the most up to date ones

Unknown
fantastic book of

Unknown
buy the book, it's on Amazon, and Kindle. And as I said, the audio book should be coming out mid April as well. So I know a lot of people want to hear it, you know, as they're driving or whatever they want to listen rather than read.

Unknown
Yeah. I know the audio books becoming more and more popular and is rapid growth, isn't it?

Unknown
Yes.

Unknown
So thank you very much, as I said before, and have a wonderful, wonderful rest of the day.

Unknown
Thank you and thank you so much, Nigel. Have a lovely evening. Hope you have a nice, quiet, restful evening. And I'll talk to you again soon.

Unknown
Yeah, pretty. Thanks for just now. Bye bye.

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