Expert Interview: Project Risk Coach – Carlos Pampliega

carlos pampliega interview

Carlos Pampliega is an expert project manager and business consultant with a vast experience. He started his own business “Salinero Pampliega Project Management” which helps organizations in growing by managing change and innovation efficiently. In his career, Carlos, has gotten the opportunity of working on different projects ranging from public works management, real estate development to highly complex innovation based projects. His experience as an architect has also complemented his growth as a project manager by adding skills to his portfolio such as leadership, communication and team management. Carlos being highly qualified has achieved different feats in planning, risk management, control and domains relating to Project Management Professional, PMP. He is a volunteer of the Project Management Institute (PMI) and member of the Board of Directors of its Chapter in Madrid. Since 2013 he has participated in the creation of his delegation in Castilla y Leon, called PMI Castilla y Leon Branch, of which he is President.

TaskQue: You have done remarkable work in the field of Project management. We would like to know what really inspired you to choose your career as project manager?

Carlos Pampliega: In signing my emails, I used to include the phrase Seeking Excellence by Design, which summarized an aspiration of my work as an architect.

I borrowed the idea from reading In Search of Excellence. The book by Tom Peters and Bob Waterman, published more than 30 years ago, forever changed the way companies and their managers relate to employees, customers, and consumers.

The book includes what Peters considers “obvious ideas”, but we do not normally consider in everyday life: to orient our efforts towards action, the most intimate relationship with customers, to maximize and develop talent and internal entrepreneurship in the organization, consider people rather than procedures, and “leadership as a result of Passion, Passion and Passion.” Promote the search of excellence as “standard procedure” in your work.

The formal Project Management, as understood by the Project Management Institute (PMI), was the same impulse in my career as I moved from the role of Architect in the design phase to having greater responsibility throughout the life cycle of the project. The vision and the way of working as Project Manager was a search for improvement and growth. Certifying myself as Project Management Professional (PMP) was not a goal, but a milestone in this search.

Tom Peters was keynote speaker at the PMI Global Congress in Phoenix in 2014 with his presentation: Excellence: Continuing the Search, which for me was revealing in this regard.

TaskQue: Project management is continuously evolving and new practices are coming in the market for solving more complex scenarios. Which tools would you recommend to people in this field for efficient operations management?

Carlos Pampliega: The trend in organizations is that they are becoming more distributed through processes of international expansion. Due to this trend, every time we will increasingly count on multi functional and de-localized teams, which will not require a physical office, but a digital environment that makes easy the interaction among its members.

Remote working and de-localized teams are an advantage for these organizations because they make it possible to hire the best qualified resources for each project. However, it is also a problem derived from low retention and high staff turnover, where knowledge and Know-How of projects becomes more vulnerable.

In this environment, collaborative applications such as Project and Portfolio Management, PPM and online cloud-based project management software are not an option, but an environment in which digital transformation of organizations takes place. This must be agreed by IT, Projects, Business, being transverse to all departments.

Future projects will be enhanced by de-localized teams, more flatter with a more informal and organized work culture through collaborative technology. A mix of Virtual Teams and Social Networks where informal contact networks are established within the company, apart from the hierarchy and departments.

Maybe the traditional office does not stop existing completely, but will gradually lose importance in favor of these online task management tools. It happens to us in my company. I am only two days a week in our central office face-to-face with the team, spending the rest of the time working remotely and sharing the tasks with the rest of the team through online applications.

TaskQue: You have worked as a Project manager for a long time. In your opinion what are the most important factors in determining the success of any project?

Carlos Pampliega: There are fantastic projects that have not had any positive impact on the organization, and therefore we cannot say that they have had any success.

The determining factor, and prior to any task of the Project Director and his team, is that the project is aligned with the organization’s strategy. That the expected benefits of the project are aligned with what management expects from the business. Here the training in the project management of the executives in terms of the responsibility that they have as sponsor in the success of the project is fundamental.

Identifying the benefits of the project to lead the business strategy before starting the project is a focus that collects PMI in its Pulse of Profession. The Project Management has a strategic impact on companies, as it covers the gap between the strategy and operations.

In those organizations where Project Management is applied in a mature and disciplined way, the strategy and benefits of the projects are defined and shared by executive leaders, business owners and project professionals.

In these circumstances, 75% of the executed projects with this previous requirement achieve the success and drive business results.

TaskQue: In your career you got opportunities to work on different areas of management from real estate management to innovative projects, which experience you found to be most fruitful for your career and professional growth?

Carlos Pampliega: I could not separate construction and innovation. We started the career of Salinero Pampliega Project Management as Architects, and then as Project Managers of construction and real estate projects. However, the innovation of digital transformation is also transforming this sector. The application of innovation that is already used in other industries is transforming Construction 4.0

This digital transformation will affect construction mainly in three areas. The first will be in the way of producing, “the construction will be industrialized”. The second segment that will undergo changes will be demand, as customers will demand more from the builders. And finally, the transformation will also influence the finished product. Therefore, we cannot treat construction and innovation as different projects, because innovation is already changing the way we make construction projects. Here are examples of how you are applying:

The inclusion of Big Data technology in the construction industry is a tool to improve the efficiency of all processes. The installation of sensors in a building provides us with an immense amount of information using our final customers to the building.

3D printing is becoming more accessible and has more applications. In construction, it is currently serving as the basis for building scale models of buildings and constructions, but research is being done on direct applications of the construction process, as well as specialized robots using all the knowledge applied in industry 4.0 but in the block of the work.

The industrialization of the construction could approach us to build without variations in the costs, as they do in the assembly lines. This form of construction, which considers resources, is closely linked to different tools that have seen the light thanks to digital transformation, such as BIM (Building Information Modeling).

In the process of designing and purchasing a home we are applying Virtual Reality, which goes beyond traditional 3D models on a computer screen.

Imagine a young couple we are designing their future home. They come to our office and put on virtual reality glasses to visit their future home before building it. The project is much more collaborative, and you see the surprise face of customers when they enter for the first time their home – virtual.

TaskQue: Project management is quite an in-depth field and one who does it successfully requires deep knowledge of different aspects related to it. What do you recommend to the people who are new to the field? How they can polish their skills and attain success in a relatively short span of time?

Carlos Pampliega: Part of my time is dedicated to training and consulting, and I am in contact with young professionals looking to specialize in project management. Masters, workshops, seminars, … all are necessary options, but the only way to consolidate the skills acquired in the training is through professional practice.

Professional team work puts these skills into practice, which speeds transfer and learning by sharing knowledge and tools with the rest. Otherwise it is very difficult to drill down into project management tools that are changing very quickly.

The millennial generation has an advantage in this sense, although for companies it is a talent retention challenge: they change their work environment faster, participating in more teams.

I would advise everyone, junior and senior project managers, to observe tools that will transform our way of working, such as the inclusion of Big Data in predictions and project analytics, online collaborative tools, and know about different methodologies.

I believe that the difference between Agile or cascade methodologies is becoming less important. Companies do not set limits, and it is good for a company to have PMs using PMBoK, Scrum or PRINCE2.

If you do not have the opportunity to develop your resume through work, you can always participate as a volunteer in large projects.

My experience as a PMI volunteer has put me in touch with professionals from all over the world, from whom I have learned a lot, and has helped me to develop management and leadership skills that have served me professionally.

TaskQue: On your website, it is stated that technological advancements, greater uncertainty and global economy are factors reshaping how things get done. People who adapt to these changes would be most demanded by organizations, can you elaborate on your statement?

Carlos Pampliega: Regarding with technological advances and the future I like to be optimistic. I like to quote Mark Stevenson, whom I met at a presentation in Barcelona last year, about his book “An Optimist´s Tour of the Future”.

“The future is coming faster than we think,” says Mark. And it alerts organizations about the Future, about all these technological advances and the scenario of uncertainty that many companies are not adapting for, or will do so when it is too late.

Take for example, how the industrial sector changes with its Digital Transformation. The client has increasingly influenced mainly because technology allows. Social media,  AI, Big Data, and the other advances that are incorporated into the production, favor the automation of many industrial processes. The industry can know the habits and customs of its customers in real time. It can adapt and produce in smaller and smaller batches according to the likes of each customer, even reaching the unit, the product / customer.

A technological change and disruptive innovation cause changes in the business models that allows another way to satisfy the needs of the client. These changes are often traumatic for companies. Many workers will lose their jobs and almost any business and social structure that we know will suffer change or disappear in the coming years.

All the advances in business bring with them changes, but also many more opportunities to which we must be attentive. It aims to be a warning message so that we do a little self-criticism and reflect on whether our services incorporate the technological advances and innovation that is within our reach.

TaskQue: In 2015, you published an article “Management 3.0: Businesses become more social” Do you think that it is the need of the businesses to be social in general? Is it because of the rapid change which is causing each industry to be more adaptive of environment?

Carlos Pampliega: Businesses become more social through their digitalization.

What differentiates the current digital revolution from the rest of industrial revolutions is the speed with which the access to the technological advances that provoke it is democratized. The digital revolution affects businesses at two levels: Both internal level in the management of organizations, work teams, projects, what they call Management 3.0; As well as external stakeholders, customers and interested, who have a greater capacity to influence projects thanks to technology.

In this article, I quote Ted Coine and Mark Babbit, authors of A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive, explain this relationship between the Social Age of business and the Digital Revolution to which they must adapt. Driven by collaboration – and built on the foundations of new technology that allows direct communication with anyone at a click away – what we call environment 3.0 is marking companies: organizations with more flat hierarchies where communication is open, a different style of authentic leadership and a change of corporate culture where customers and suppliers take greater weight in the decisions of companies.

Now we have the technology to raise exponentially the relationships of companies with their customers and stakeholders, and this gives us the possibility of establishing new channels of collaboration with society, which goes beyond mere communication.

Customer feedback, and the impact of projects on society has a greater influence on project decisions. The clients and agents involved expect to be able to be part of the decision-making process, based on up-to-date and open information.

Then, the next point for traditional organizations is to be able to adapt to management models that can reinvent solutions to adapt to new consumption patterns; and develop these solutions quickly to get out to market.

The new executives demand basic changes for the transformation towards a more agile, adaptable and social company, in which Project Managers have a crucial role:

We must become #DifferenceMakers, transforming more flexible organizational charts adapted to changes, evolving towards a horizontal company with extraordinarily high levels of communication and transparency.

TaskQue: Every project has different elements which determine its success such as optimal resource allocation and lead time, Which element do you see as the most critical in determining success of any project?

Carlos Pampliega: After these years managing projects, you realize that the most important factor for the success of projects is the relationship you have with people.

If we become more technical, all areas of knowledge about Project Management are important, but Stakeholders Management is critical to the success of a project, because it is the one that needs a mindset and a cultural change that is not included in project management programs.

As we advance technologically, projects become more complex: Big Data, Cloud Based, AI, Industry 4.0, IoT, Smart Cities, … And we have also become more technology dependent to manage them. If we look back, the near past is almost unrecognizable technologically. However, contrary to what we might think, the more we advance technologically, the interactions between people acquire more and more value.

Particularly for project management, delocalized work teams entails more democratic and collaborative organizations. The term Management 3.0 applied in a general way to any field of management, is translated into the world of projects as Project Management 2.0. This new paradigm was coined more formally by Professor Harold Kerzner in his book Project Management 2.0, and we could summarize it as:

Project Management 2.0 = SOCIALIZED Management

We live and work in a much more social world where the customer is at the center of project decisions. Anyone with a mobile can influence the image or the projected opinion of a project, and this has a brutal impact on the importance of stakeholder management.

Today’s more empowered, more connected and skeptical customers and employees force organizations to consider them as an internal part of the process, culminating in more innovation, loyalty, revenue, and growth.

TaskQue: You have a great name in project management. What do you want to achieve as your next milestone?

Carlos Pampliega: Training and communication about Project Management is an activity that has been increasing in my career since I am a member of Project Management Institute. This is a skill that I have been improving thanks to my volunteer work and of which I am very grateful to PMI.

Right now, I am very hopeful about a new program in Project Management that we launch the next course and the new website for, a space in which we collect information and references from the Project Management Spanish-speaking world.

The milestone that may have more impact is the nomination of PMI Madrid, Spain Chapter as a finalist for the “Chapter of the Year, 2016” award. As a volunteer and member of its board of directors, it is an acknowledgment of all the work and activities related to the project management that we have done during these years. During the next North America Leadership Institute Meeting in Chicago, we will know the winner. In any case, it will not be the end of the race, but a great milestone to move forward.

TaskQue: Workplace environment plays an important role in keeping people productive and motivated. Workstation setting is also a part. How does your workstation look like?

Carlos Pampliega: I have at least three defined workspaces that I use according to the schedule and how I share my agenda with the rest of the collaborators. Each space inspires me with in a different way.

The office of Salinero Pampliega Project Management is in an high-tech building in the Science Park of the University of Valladolid. It is a “Knowledge Transfer Center” for companies that collaborate with the university researching, implementing new technologies, etc. The offices are glazed and share large common spaces. Then we are surrounded by startups within an ecosystem that encourages the exchange of information.

The design and the own architecture of the building favors the Corporate Social Density. This is a relevant, honest, informal and effective flow of information between people in an environment where they feel secure. Common spaces favor face-to-face communication and you can “bump into” the canteen with people who are doing interesting projects to learn from. As architects, this type of situation caused by the design of a building seems a difficult achievement to plan.

We also encourage this information exchange on campus. As members of the Project Management Institute (PMI), we organize events related to Project Management in this same scenario, to which we invite the campus startups and professionals from the region to share their projects. Thus, these meetings of PMI also favor this exchange of information.

My time dedicated to studying, preparing classes on Project Management, or writing articles I spent in the office of my own house. It is facing east, taking advantage of the morning light through a large window of 13.12 ft. (4 m) high overlooking a garden with oaks and maples. In fall, it is spectacular. Red and golden as the sun rises, … a very inspiring workspace for the most intellectual tasks.

Although most of the time I spend it in the works, delocalized, so that online tasks management software that I have installed in my smartphone and laptop are key to manage and handle all the information of the projects.

Here the space is totally chaotic. Workers, machines, noise, materials on all sides. Sometimes I take my young children and see with them how the buildings grow. They love it, because for them it is a new universe. Like playing between dinosaurs.

TaskQue: Project manager must oversee and manage all the related tasks and people in the project, which is quite exhausting. What do you do in your leisure time to avoid burnout and maintain a healthy work-life balance?

Carlos Pampliega: Really, the effort involved in managing a project, or several projects at the same time is very stressful, and can physically wear you out if you do not maintain a balance between work and personal life. The projects include meetings, reports, emails, phone calls, … in an endless routine that is repeated every day. The body accuses this effort, and it can take you off if you do not take care of your physical condition and your diet.

The main people who support my work are my wife and three children, whom I do not always dedicate as much time as I would like, although I try. There are a lot of things that people do ¨outside work¨, which is an extension of their own work – I do not think they like sharing this kind of thing with their children.

I try to be organized and keep a routine every day of the week, wherever I am. This makes me not have to think too much in the morning when I wake up, which is soon, at 4:45 am. Over time I have been getting ahead of time to get up following the # 4: 45 has tag that Jocko Willink originally shared on Twitter. It makes you feel accompanied at that hour. I read and write about project management with a hot tea in front of the computer. Sometimes I prefer not to turn it on, and read it on paper.

At 7:00 am I go running barefoot, or with minimalist footwear, a practice I discovered through Christopher McDougal’s book, Born to Run. Unlike to what might seem at first, it is not something painful. Unlike, in practicing it, I have improved my technique of race, I recovered before and I enjoy more of running with my dogs in the field.

It also serves as a vehicle for meditation. I do not take my cell phone, no audiobooks, no music. This moment is “present”, only you, bare feet and your sensations. Very relaxing.

Treating training and the early hours of the day with discipline and precision helps you keep a frenetic pace at work.

At 8:00, I get up children and we all have breakfast. Food is what complements the sport to keep the energy constant and high. I recommend reading Phil Maffenton, a specialist in LCHF (Low Carb, High Fat Diet) who has been training and advising on feeding a multitude of athletes, as well as rock stars!

With this routine, I have energy for the whole day … meetings, visits to the works, etc.

TaskQue: Technological advancements have reshaped project management. You have acknowledged it as well. Many businesses are implementing these tools for increasing efficiency. TaskQue is one of the emerging task management software. What are your thoughts on the user experience of TaskQue?

Carlos Pampliega: I think that TaskQue adapts to the requirements of those we have been commenting on in the interview and that are already a reality in modern organizations where there is a culture of transparency and collaboration.

Much more than communication, transparency, productivity, or management 3.0, I would add two technical requirements that I love about: visual management and interoperability with other apps.

Integration with Slack, another app we use regularly, facilitates the transfer of information between team members. It reflects a more informal work culture, typical of flatter organizations, where there is no clear boundary between virtual teams and social networks.

Another requirement for task management software is the use of visual presentations that support project decisions. Presenting information in such a visual way favors communication, especially with people involved in projects that are not necessarily technical.

As an architect, I love this part of its design. If we started talking about Seeking Excellence by Design, I can only say that Visual Matters!