Project Management is a Life Skill


Interview with Sue Kershaw

Association for Project Management (APM)
United Kingdom


Interviewed by Yu Yanjuan
Journalist, Project Management Review: PMR (China)
International Correspondent, PM World Journal


Introduction to the interviewee

Sue Kershaw is President of the Association for Project Management (APM) and a visiting Professor at UCL. She is also Managing Director of the Infrastructure Advisory Group of KPMG. She is acknowledged as being an influential leader and a leading Managing Director who has delivered £multi-billion construction, property and transport projects in the UK and overseas, such as the London Olympic Transport Portfolio. Her areas of expertise include: leadership skills of high performing teams; complex high profile programme delivery to time and budget through entire life cycle, on a risk-based approach; excellent collaborative working skills; ability to simplify complexity and influence decision-makers; strong stakeholder management skills: ability to listen and challenge; confidence in managing significant sums of public money.

From an engineer to an influential project management leader, she has worked hard for more than three decades. Her efforts have been rewarded by much recognition such as “Leader in Transport and Logistics Award (2017)”, “WICE Lifetime Achievement Award (2018)”, “Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) (1999)”, “Fellow of APM (2006)”, “Honorary Fellow of APM (2011)”, and more.




Part I

Q1.      I noticed that you started your career as an engineer. How did you switch to project management? What’s your story with project management? Do you enjoy what you are doing?

Sue Kershaw (Kershaw):    I don’t see it as a switch, but as a transition. After gaining chartered status with the Institution of Civil Engineers, I discovered that, although I enjoyed engineering and learning about construction and design, my passion was the management of projects and people to ensure successful delivery for the client.

Project management is based on solid logic and it is a life skill: we all need project management in our lives. Our businesses, schools and hospitals have to plan what they do, ensure there is enough budget and resource, and that the risks are managed successfully and to time. Project Management is needed across all sectors to make countries successful.

I thoroughly enjoy my job: the more large, complex and difficult the project, the better!


Q2.      As an accomplished woman in the field of project management, how do you balance work and life? What are your secrets to career success?

Kershaw:         I see there being three parts of my life: personal, my work, and my professional career. These are intertwined and grow with each other. For example, business planning approaches from work lay a good foundation for planning at home; the professional approach to competencies is a bedrock for recruitment at work; understanding the needs of my kids helps me understand the needs of junior staff at work etc. The key is always to have a state of equilibrium between the three parts, and save a little “me time” for physical and mental wellbeing.

I see the secrets to my success as being curious, immersed in what I do, and mindful that teamwork is key to success. No one person ever has the monopoly on good ideas! I also think that good leaders are listening ones who are approachable and humble.


Part II

Q3.      According to your observation, what are the characteristics of high-performing teams?

Kershaw:         High-performing teams are never the textbook perfect fit of competence and experience; they are actually a group of diverse people brought together with a common goal in mind. They are composed of leaders and followers that bond together and most importantly, have the desire to achieve the goals of the project they are working on, and see this achievement as being part of their personal legacy.



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: PMR (2020). Project Management is a Life Skill: Interview with Sue Kershaw; Project Management Review; republished in the PM World Journal, Vol. IX, Issue V, May. To access interview, go to https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/pmwj93-May2020-Yanjuan-Interview-with-Sue-Kershaw.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 (PMR) Magazine and website. She has interviewed over sixty top experts in the field of project management. Before joining PMR, she once worked as a journalist and editor for other media platforms in China. She has also worked part-time as an English teacher in training centers in Beijing. Beginning in January 2020, Spring also serves as an international correspondent for the PM World Journal.

For work contact, she can be reached via email yuyanjuan2005@163.com  or LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/yanjuanyu-76b280151/.

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