I undertook an Arcadis Quest to Singapore and Hong Kong from the UK in May 2015. I thoroughly enjoyed my Quest experience. I learnt a phenomenal amount and my colleges and their clients were exceedingly generous with their time. In particular, I would like to thank my host, Oliver Barrow, for his time, effort and energy with which he helped me with the Quest making it even more worthwhile undertaking.
I had two main objectives to my Quest. I wanted to learn how Arcadis is managing programmes of work around the world as Programme Managers and how different Project Management Offices (PMOs) are being run globally. In particular I was looking to bring that learning back to the UK to feed into the programme of work which I am working on in the UK.
When I had decided on my key topic areas I then spoke to a wide range of people, both those who had undertaken Quests, and to my Line Managers in the UK to focus on what structure the Quest might take and how I could get the most out of the programme in the time allowed. This led me to focus my ideas and so I got in touch with Oliver Barrow in the Singapore for us to discuss what shape the week could take. I had asked Oliver if he would be my host as we are both working in similar roles in a PMO so I felt that there was a lot of knowledge which we could both share in the Quest setting. This helped me to submit my application with clear objectives and structure which helped with my discussions with my other managers. This clarity in objectives was crucial in the structure of my Quest whilst I was away and in using the information that I had gathered after the Quest.
Oliver and I held several calls as we moved towards the Quest dates to agree the meetings and structure and then the date arrived! I met and discussed programmes and PMOs with an astounding number of people both in Singapore and Hong Kong, who all gave such valuable contributions and were exceedingly willing to share their thoughts and experience on a range of topics. This enabled me not only to achieve my learning goals, of understanding more about different types of programme management but also the different templates which people are using to achieve different objectives and the different challenges which the different programmes were facing. I was fascinated in particular to hear about the difficulties which arouse when managing an Asia wide programme, with different languages, currencies, exchange rates and time zones to contend with, as a contrast to the UK wide programme which I am currently working on which doesn’t encounter any of these issues.
My Quest experience was absolutely fantastic and I learnt so much more about different cultures, working etiquettes and project and programme management in a global context than I had even considered that I might at the outset of my application to the Quest programme. For this I would also like to express my thanks, not only to the people who I met whilst away, but to the Lovinklaan Foundation for sponsoring the programme and for approving my application. As a conclusion to the week the team took me to my first Dim Sum restaurant a delicious and highly enjoyable end to an excellent week!
Georgina Ablett, EC Harris