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‘Programme Management gives organisations broad perspectives’

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By Moses Nosike

OLUWATOSIN AGBETUSIN is not only a Programme Manager with Ericsson Nigeria, but also the first Nigerian to bag a Programme Management (PgMP) certification from the renowned Project Management Institute in the US. In this interview with Saturday Vanguard Business, he recommends the same expertise for forward-looking parastatals, corporate bodies and businesses. Excerpt:

What’s your background?
I studied IT and Telecoms, but have my master’s in Personal and Advanced Mobile Communication Engineering from Lancaster University. I’ve worked in the telecoms industry all my life, starting off with MTN in Nigeria, then Airtel Nigeria. I’ve worked directly or indirectly with all the operators in the UK – Tmobile, Nokia and the rest of them. Twice, I’ve tried to relocate out of Nigeria to settle in the UK, but I always come back to Nigeria which shows my love for the country. I presently work with Ericsson as a Programme Manager, responsible for managing project managers for our customers within Nigeria and of course sub-Saharan Africa.

Could you tell us a bit about the company, Ericsson?
Ericsson is a telecommunications company. It follows a very strict Project Management framework which has helped in the delivery of its projects to customers. Customers focus a lot on service delivery, and that is why so much money and effort is spent on training the project managers here to ensure we have the right people with the right skills handling the delivery of projects.


According to the PMI Credential Registry, you’re the first Nigerian to be certified in Programme Management?

There are about six PMI certifications; the most common is the Project Management Professional (PMP) which you have so many Nigerians certified in. But the one that is synonymous with me is the Programme Management Professional (PgMP). It’s on a higher level because it requires more experience than the PMP certification. The process of getting the credential is more tedious. I have so many friends and colleagues who have written the exam and failed it.

In fact, some never even qualified to write the exam because there are several stages you have to pass through before you qualify to write it. Even after writing the exam, you might not get the qualification because there’s still a final stage called the 360-Review that involves your peers, line managers and subordinates. If they think you’re not competent enough and rate you low, despite passing the exam you don’t become a Programme Management Professional. But because it’s what I do day in, day out I was successful at it. Of course, one thing about PMI certifications is that you can always go online and check.

So if you go to the PMI Credential Registry and key in Nigeria as well as the certification and add a hash tag, it will give you the names of everybody in the country with that particular certification. I have five out of the six PMI certifications now. I’m working on the final one. As of last year, there were less than five people in the world with all the certifications. Hopefully, I should join them very soon.

What’s the distinction between Programme Management and Project Management?

This is a question that many people have been asking. Actually, a programme is a collection of projects that are interrelated. A classic example of a programme is like building a plane. Now, there can be several projects involved in the process. One project is to build the wings, another is to build the tyre and another is to build the tail;but together, it’s a programme. Now, a programme is not a programme if the projects are not interrelated.

How can organisations and businesses benefit from the PMI certification?
The certification and knowledge of Programme Management helps organisations with their calculations. How does it help? It helps them understand how to benefit management, how to manage stakeholders, how to manage risk. It brings about a very structured framework to handle the deployment of programmes and how to manage resources across programmes. When you have a programme and several projects, there are usually resource dependencies. Project A needs the resources of Projects B or C or D.

Now, there’s needs to be a Programme Management which handles how these resources are distributed to make sure nobody suffers. So if you have a properly structured Programme Management, organisations would have someone who looks at the broader picture of all these projects and manages the relationship and overall goal properly. It’s been said that organisations with structured Project Management achieve 70 percent better delivery of their projects than organisations that don’t.

What procedures should the public follow to be certified?
It depends. PMI offers different certifications. There’s also another body called the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) in the UK doing that. You know the British and Americans are always at loggerheads (PMI is American while OGC is British). There are other standards across the world, but those two are the most popular. Other institutes out there offer Project Management training, Risk Management training, Portfolio Management training – both in and outside Nigeria.

In fact, even universities now offer full-time or part-time courses in Project Management. Of course, the PMI certification would arguably be more popular than OGC, but it depends on the industry. If an individual thinks he’ll work in an industry where they recognise more of PMI certifications, then it would be ideal to go the PMI way. If his company leans towards the OGC, then it might be a good way to go. But, basically, I’m certified in both.

Any advice for the government and corporate bodies?
People should see Project Management, Programme Management, risk professionals, scheduling professionals as a field that leads to professionalism. Organisations now look for risk experts, planning and scheduling experts, project managers, programme managers. I also encourage government and the various institutions to embrace the structured Project Management processes in their organisations. It helps with timely delivery, it helps with proper governance, it helps provide a clear picture of how projects are deployed.

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