Interview with Carole Osterweil


Neuroscience: the secret ingredient in transforming power skills and project value

Interview with Carole Osterweil

Keynote Speaker, Educator, Executive Coach
Author of Neuroscience for Project Success: why people
behave as they do?
United Kingdom

Interviewed by Yasmina Khelifi
International Correspondent, PM World Journal
Paris, France

Introduction to the interviewee

Known for bringing an understanding of how the human brain works to the worlds of project management and business transformation, Carole’s on a mission: to make the invisible human dynamics which get in the way of project delivery more visible – so we can stop squandering project value.

In demand as an educator and key-note speaker, her book, Neuroscience for Project Success: Why People Behave as They Do, [i] was published by the Association for Project Management in 2022.

If you’re wondering whether neuroscience is relevant to you, this is what Lee Lambert, PMI Fellow and founder of the PMP exam says,

 “I often considered books like Carole Osterweil’s as psychobabble.  But the Lebanon PMI Chapter ask me to line up some innovative speakers and I had the good fortune of meeting Carole. Not only was Carole able to shatter my image of “her kind” but the membership of Lebanon couldn’t say enough about the applicability of her message. I think it is time to confess that what I once referred to as psychobabble may be the keys to the Kingdom when it comes to understanding why people behave the way they do. This could change EVERYTHING …  If I can be convinced, I know you can.” [ii]

Her pioneering approach is based on her work now, as a project troubleshooter and coach, and earlier in her career as an international project leader and transformation director.

An accredited Executive Coach since 2003, Carole holds an MBA and has trained in neuroscience, psychotherapy, and the arts.  Her current assignments include building the UK Government’s senior change, project, and program management capability at Cranfield University, and working with corporates through her business, Visible Dynamics.


Q1:     First of all, thank you for accepting an interview request from PMWJ.  What are the main steps of your career as a project / program manager?

Carole Osterweil (Osterweil):     I started out as an international project leader in the pharma, IT and motor industries. I got really fed up with being the person who was asked to sort out everybody else’s people problems, so I decided I’d better start teaching this stuff!

I joined the faculty at Ashridge Business School, now part of Hult, where I was lucky enough to work alongside Professor Eddie Obeng in teaching of project and program management. Our courses were hugely innovative because we insisted: a) leadership is as important as process; and b), it’s vital to match your approach to the context, (attempting to ‘Paint by Numbers’ [iii] will fail in rapidly changing environments).

Becoming an accredited executive coach was a natural progression as at the time these ideas were so revolutionary (this was the 1990’s!), students needed personal support to apply them to workplace challenges.

Teaching and coaching progressed into consulting and troubleshooting transformation projects.  I trained in psychotherapy to learn more about why people behave as they do, and my course included an introduction to neuroscience.

It wasn’t long before I started applying these ideas to the world of project management, and discovering what a difference they make to resolving people issues.

I’m now on a mission to use ideas from neuroscience to make the invisible human dynamics which take projects off track more visible – so we can stop squandering project value.

I wrote the book, Neuroscience for Project Success in 2022 to further this mission.


To read entire interview, click here

How to cite this interview: Khelifi, Y. (2023). Title: Interview with ; PM World Journal, Vol. XII, Issue IX, September. Available online at  https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/pmwj133-Sep2023-Khelifi-Interview-with-Carole-Osterweil.pdf

About the Interviewer

Yasmina Khelifi

Paris, France


Yasmina Khelifi, PMP, PMI- ACP, PMI-PBA is an experienced project manager in the telecom industry. Along with her 20-year career at Orange S.A. (the large French multinational telecommunications corporation), she sharpened her global leadership skills, delivering projects with major manufacturers and SIM makers. Yasmina strives for building collaborative bridges between people to make international projects successful. She relies on three pillars: project management skills, the languages she speaks, and a passion for sharing knowledge.

She is a PMP certification holder since 2013, a PMI- ACP and PMI-PBA certification holder since 2020. She is an active volunteer member at PMI France and PMI UAE, and a member of PMI Germany Chapter. French-native, she can speak German, English, Spanish, Italian, Japanese and she is learning Arabic. Yasmina loves sharing her knowledge and experiences at work, in her volunteers’ activities at PMI, and in projectmanagement.com as a regular blogger. She is also the host and co-founder of the podcast Global Leaders Talk with Yasmina Khelifi to help people in becoming better international leaders.

Yasmina can be contacted at https://yasminakhelifi.com/ or LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/yasminakhelifi-pmp-telecom/

Visit her correspondent profile at https://pmworldlibrary.net/yasmina-khelifi/

To view other works by Yasmina, visit her author showcase in the PM World Library at https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/yasmina-khelifi/

[i] Osterweil,C. (2022) Neuroscience for Project Success: Why People Behave as They Do, (APM)

[ii] Lee Lambert, on Linked In, https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:7028030558781771776/?commentUrn=urn%3Ali%3Acomment%3A(activity%3A7028030558781771776%2C7028079421404119040)&dashCommentUrn=urn%3Ali%3Afsd_comment%3A(7028079421404119040%2Curn%3Ali%3Aactivity%3A7028030558781771776),  (accessed 1 June 1, 2023 18:50)

[iii] Obeng’s project typology, introduced in Obeng, E (1994) All Change: The Project Leaders Secret Handbook, FT Pitman