Interview with Dr Penny Pullan


Engaging People Remotely Is a Real Challenge

Interviewed by Yu Yanjuan
Journalist, Project Management Review: PMR (China)

Journalist’s Introduction to Penny Pullan

Dr. Penny Pullan is an expert on developing leadership for virtual work and tricky projects. The majority of her work is with people in multinational organisations, who are grappling with tricky projects and programmes of change.

Based in the United Kingdom, she has worked with programmes as wide-ranging as running virtual summits and professional groups, certification of child labour in West African countries, supporting people who make insulin globally to work virtually effectively, the global implementation of SAP, introducing project techniques in the not-for-profit sector as well as ‘Project Management Excellence” training.

Dr Pullan co-authored A Short Guide to Risk Management with Ruth Murray-Webster and co-edited Business Analysis and Leadership with James Archer. Her specialties include project and programme management, business analysis, business process management, business change, risk management, leadership of change, virtual leadership, implementing strategy, etc.

In 2001, Dr. Pullan was scheduled to fly to the United States to attend the start-up meeting for a global project, but her business trip was delayed due to the 9·11 incident. She had to quickly learn to work with team members on projects remotely. Since then, Dr. Pullan has initiated research on virtual team management and written a book on this topic titled Virtual Leadership. In this interview with Dr. Penny Pullan, we mainly focus on virtual leadership.



Project Management in Penny’s Eyes

Q1.  What is it that has motivated you to stay for over two decades in this profession?

Dr Penny Pullan (Pullan):       I want to change the world and make it a little bit better than it would have been without me! Project management has helped me to do this and has also been a lot of fun. I don’t think that it is possible to be bored when you’re doing such a diverse and interesting job.

Q2.  You have so many labels on you such as speaker, author, consultant, director, etc. Which is your favorite role and why?

Pullan:             I love my job – which is a real mix of writing, speaking, working with people and running my own consultancy. For me, the key part that keeps me interested is the variety of what I do and the diverse people I mix with. Every day is different. Recently, I have worked in Paris with project managers from a medical devices company, in Southampton with people who are working on geospatial projects and remotely with researchers in the USA! In amongst these, I have had time to think and mull over the topics I’ve been asked to speak on to audiences around the world.

Q3.  Someone has described you as being passionate, goal-oriented and ambitious. How do you describe yourself as a professional?

Pullan:             I’ve noticed, as I get older, that I’m enjoying developing others as much as, or even more than, developing myself. There is something magical in getting alongside someone as their mentor and watching as they open up to new possibilities and then make them happen. So perhaps you can describe me as a mentor, keen to open up new possibilities and potential in all I work with.

Q4.  Having been in this profession for over 20 years, what changes in project management have you observed?


To read entire interview, click here


Editor’s note: This interview was first published in PMR, Project Management Review magazine, China.  It is republished here with the permission of PMR. The PM World Journal maintains a cooperative relationship with PMR, periodically republishing works from each other’s publications. To see the original interview with Chinese introduction, visit PMR at http://www.pmreview.com.cn/english/

How to cite this interview: Yanjuan, Y. (2019). Engaging People Remotely Is a Real Challenge: Interview with Dr Penny Pullan; Project Management Review; republished in the PM World Journal, Vol. VIII, Issue VIII, September. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/pmwj85-Sep2019-Yanjuan-Pullan-Interview.pdf



About the Interviewer

Yu Yanjuan

Beijing, China



Yu Yanjuan (English name: Spring), Bachelor’s Degree, graduated from the English Department of Beijing International Studies University (BISU) in China. She is now an English-language journalist and editor working for Project Management Review Magazine and website. She has interviewed over forty top experts in the field of project management. In the past, she has worked as a journalist and editor for other media platforms in China. She has also worked part-time as an English teacher in various training centers in Beijing. For work contact, she can be

reached via email yuyanjuan2005@163.com  or Linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/in/yanjuanyu-76b280151/.