Region: INTERNATIONAL

Project Management in the Gulf: Top 5 PMs Lay it Out!

We speak to project managers from five top firms in the region to hear their side of the story – the many hats they have to wear, their incredible skills at juggling and managing schedules, and keeping the peace between all stakeholders.

Image location courtesy Interstuhl Showroom UAE

 


 

A project manager’s role, simplistically speaking, is to manage scope, resource, cost, and schedule. However, in mega design projects, popular theory is that a PM is either a) be a spokesperson for the client, or b) a service that recognises the value of the expertise it employs and expertly streamlines to create a successful deliverable. A good project manager strives for the latter.

However, there is a lot more that goes on in within a PM’s realm where their insane juggling skills come into play. Let’s see what some of the most influential PMs in the MENA region have to say about their role and the multiple hats they have to wear.

KEENAN GROTE

Chief Operating Officer, PMK Consult
16 years of experience

A non biased approach from a project management perspective is often reviewed as a negative. I have been drawn across the coals by a client in the past, because they felt that I wasn’t being too hard on a contractor or a consultant. They felt that if I was not beating up on the contractor, that meant that I wasn’t doing my job. And that’s not what I’m there to do! If a client is looking for a schoolyard bully, a good project manager should not be that person.

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NATALIE STEPHENSON

Partner, Carter Stephenson Quinn
15 years of experience

“A lot of people in the industry think that project managers just move papers around, sit around a table and run through the processes. Fundamentally, we are really there to manage the team and stakeholders, make sure the project is completed to deadline, manage resources, and really stay on budget.

Here in the UAE, what we regularly face are unrealistic deadlines and budgets from the client. Clients want mid to high end build at mid to low end cost. This has become quite common here, especially over the last three years because tenants started reducing their budgets.

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PAUL LUDLAM

Director, Head of Fit-Out UAE, JLL
16 years of experience

“As a Project Manager you have a responsibility to act impartially and provide accurate and timely advice, and sometimes this means saying no to clients. This is very important in gaining the respect of your team, and for them to trust you and join you on your journey to delivering a successful project. Everyone has to feel that they are moving in synch with one common goal in mind.”

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YASMIEN IBRAHIM

Senior Project Manager, CBRE
8 years of experience

“Sometimes you end up having to play the role of a therapist, and by that I mean a good listener and an empath. I think emotional intelligence and patience play a huge role in our jobs as you deal with many different people with significantly different interests towards the project, as well as time conveniences.

I also think it’s really important to promote a fair and reasonable stance, as whilst being on the client side, it’s vital for the project team to feel appreciated, respected and treated fairly to give back to the client and the project with a big heart!”

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ADAM JONES

Associate, Thomas and Adamson
12 years of experience

“Humans are social animals that thrive on connections and relationships, and as lone individuals humans are not very successful. By working as a team we can achieve remarkable things, but in order to do so and to drive innovation and engagement, we need to make the team members feel supported, feel that they won’t be exposed. Creating a culture of psychological safety and not managing through fear is, in my experience, one of the key factors in driving engagement, innovation and collaboration within successful teams.”

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