My Quest Experience
Karla Miranda went on a extended Quest experience from New York, U.S.A. to London, UK. Karla wanted to connect the work she’s currently doing to the realisation of Arcadis’ wider strategic goals, both helping the company achieve it’s commitment to developing its people as well as the more focused intention to growing our program management services for best-in-class recognition in the global market.
I have arrived in London!
Arriving in London a couple of days earlier, I took the weekend to settle into my rental and familiarize myself with the tube and bus routes for a bright and early Monday start at the Arcadis House. Grateful for a health & safety moment shared on a recent team call, I knew to stand back from the curb when waiting to cross due to the recent reports of pedestrians being hit by the large mirrors accompanying London’s massive double-deckers. What I wasn’t prepared for was having to look ‘right, than left’ when crossing, which is near the complete opposite of a lifetime of curb crossing as an American! Only six curb crossings from my rental to King’s Cross and one near miss, I made it safely to the office, and luckily, just in time to experience the quiet roar of hundreds of Arcadians that pour through the front doors every day between 8 and 8:30am. I watched in awe and smiled as I witnessed streams of colleagues flow in every direction. Onto elevators, up the stairs, back through corridors, they made their way to their respective hot desk ‘neighborhoods’ with a sense of expedience, almost pride.
Giving myself one deep breath to take it all in, I snapped back to the rigor of my schedule, grabbed a quick cup from the canteen (what our British colleagues call ‘cafeteria’) and hustled to the second floor kitchen to make it in time for my first Quest exchange. It didn’t take long before the incredible gift of knowledge-exchange, collective insights, and shared business intelligence made its way to the center of our meeting, providing me a deep and better understanding of what ‘good’ benefits management looks like on a large (UK) transportation-infrastructure scheme, as well as an opportunity to share back recent learnings from my participation in the Program Management Academy on responsive supply chains and benefits-focused contractual engagements with clients. Off to dynamic start, I jumped into what was to be a week replete with new people, new learnings, client site visits, tons of project and program information, observed differences in ethos and ways of working, the experience of a strong EC Harris culture, the benefit of receiving years of experience, business knowledge and client insight, amazing new connections, great belly laughs, personal stories, hearty curry lunches and coffee refills, white boarding, colored pens, and lots and lots of diagrams!
Going on a ‘digital’ field trip
From that very first meeting where I saw how we are actively applying innovation and intelligence within our program offering, to being invited on a ‘digital’ field trip set up for the UK Buildings Client Development Team to experience one of London’s leading office buildings for ‘workplaces of the future’ and technology systems integration, my brain was exploding with new information, new insights and the challenge of connecting it all to the realisation of our Global Program Management strategy. Deep breath in. It was at this point I remembered to reach back to a piece of advice given to me by my Host before I left, where she counseled me to hard-wire the concept of business reciprocity into my curriculum. In a moment of clarity (probably that deep breath!), I reminded myself that I took her advice when planning, and therefore, had a design that I could rely on and was already working hard for me! Since I set the sessions up to be work-collaborative from the onset, all output generated would simultaneously supply my colleague with a product that attended to their identified business need, while providing me the specific learning needed to connect the strategic needs of Global Program Management to the business. Deciding to exercise the very system I created, I rolled my sleeves back up and dove right back into the excitement and activity of the dynamic exchange! Exhale.
With my curriculm design working for myself and my colleagues, I was able to get back to the business of focusing on building a skill and knowledge set that grew with each Quest exchange. Throughout the journey, I was able to gain on-the-ground experience in transition management for outsourced commissions, performance-based benefits tracking and capital project delivery diagnostics, digital innovations on large water public-private infrastructure programs, the role of PMOs for managing internal transformation and change programs like The Arcadis Way, performance-based monthly reporting through a GPMO and supporting a key UK strategic pursuit. One of the biggest highlights of working in this style was spotting the opportunties where I could connect my UK colleague to another member of the global team as part of enhancing and deepening the quality of the conversation. With this enhanced awareness around the breadth and range of capabilities and services that we offer our clients, as well as the diversity of programs that currently exist in the UK business, I hope to continue fostering the connections made across our global program management community, converting these into real-time opportunities for future collaboration and better service offerings for our clients.
I think my key take away from the Quest experience is working with the certainty that exercising collaborative relationships is truly the best way to make high-quality work products for our clients. By myself, yes, (hopefully) I create good, maybe even great products for Arcadis. However, they only way to truly make exceptional products, the ones that provide exceptional outcomes and long-lasting value for our clients, is through the synergy, insight, and ideas that can only come from a team. In this way, I truly believe that it is the ‘WE’ of our global organization, rather than the ‘me’, that has the potential to adapt and advance our collaborative capabilities into true global solutions, addressing the mega-trends that continue to dominate urban nodes like London.
A great recommendation passed onto me from my Host was to make sure I designed an experience based on reciprocity and two-way exchange. Great advice that I carried into all of my engagements, which resulted in really positive collaborative work sessions accompanied by very business-focused outcomes (and work products). These sessions took into account my colleagues business objectives, as well as satisfying my need to continue bulding technical skills. Win-Wins are always a good thing!J
Quest is an international transfer program which connects Arcadians from all over the world. Quest is sponsored by the Lovinklaan Foundation