Happy Anniversary Women in PMSIG! Interview with Teri Okoro

Teri OkoroNext month, the APM’s Women in Project Management Group will hold the 2014 National Conference & 21st Anniversary of Women in Project Management in London. I spoke with Teri Okoro who is Chair of the special interest group, and was part of the team that prepared for the anniversary.
Teri, what’s the WiPM SIG’s agenda now that you’ve been 21 years old? What celebrations are planned for 21 years?
WiPM has taken the time to reflect on our past achievements and plan for the future. Four key elements have been used to redefine our mission:
Building a strong profile
Promoting a barrier-free culture
Engaging with and responding to project professionals
Building a community of collaboration

Just completed our second survey. It highlighted key issues and concerns for project managers today that the WiPM should address. Soon, we will begin to profile female project manager on our web pages. We are planning to create a support group for those who apply to RPP or FAPM.
WiPM has branded 21st Anniversary events across the country. We are excited about the 2014 National Conference & 21st Anniversary, which will be held in London on 25 September 2014. The keynote speakers for the afternoon event will be Baroness Susan Greenfield (Dame Stephanie Shirley) and the evening event will feature Vanessa Vallely and The Funny Women. You can find more information and book online: 2014 National Conference & 21st Anniversary of Women in Project Management.
21 years is a long period! What is the biggest change in project management since you started managing projects.
Technology is a key area of improvement in our roles as project and program managers as well as in the way we communicate as a SIG. It allows teams to communicate and share information more quickly, as well as allow for communication across great distances. This not only helps with the complexity of projects, but also highlights the importance of people in delivering them.
What do you think the future holds for women in project management?
It is mixed. It is mixed. Our 2014 survey revealed that 70% of the respondents were women who had been in the industry for less then ten years. If this trend continues, the overall numbers will increase. The survey also raised concerns about career progression and maintaining a balance between work and family. Our previous survey showed that more women are interested in consulting and freelance options. It was also important to share best practices, including those in the workplace.
Although I am optimistic about the increased number of women in project management, I am also concerned about how this talent pool will be managed. This could have a negative impact on job satisfaction and retention. Progressive workplace practices will continue to attract women PMs and keep them in the job.
What advice would a woman seeking a career as a project manager get?
It can be challenging but also very rewarding. It’s well-suited for women because it uses skills they have acquired in daily life. It is also advantageous to have a wide range of industries. However, it is just as important to plan for career advancement as delivering projects and programs. Be open to learning from mistakes and let others know about your successes. It is important to have a sponsor. Their support is crucial over time, regardless of whether you are connected to them. To maintain a healthy work-life balance, it is important to choose carefully your employer.
Women in project management should also be aware that just because they are able to get into a certain role, it does not necessarily mean they will move on to the next. They must be reflective and mindful of the many unwritten rules of the workplace.
Finally, I have heard about the Inspire Project. How can we get involved and what is it all about?
The Inspiring Future: Women in Inspiration