Put People First


Making a Modern Project Manager


By Yasmina Khelifi

Paris, France

In the March episode of my podcast, my guest Manuel Ancizu said something that stuck with me: ‘People First and everything will work’. It made me think of the Agile Manifesto for software development published in 2001. One of the principles is: ‘Individuals and interactions over processes and tools’.

Let’s have a look at two successful companies’ stories of people-centric approaches.

The Human Magic at Best Buy by Hubert Joly

There are so many takeaways from this very 35-minute insightful video conversation between Hubert Joly, former Best Buy CEO, and Adi Ignatius, Editor in Chief at Harvard Business Review. Hubert Joly explained how he applied people-centric leadership to make performance skyrocket. His first week as a CEO was in a store wearing a blue shirt, khaki pants and a badge that said “CEO in training”, to just listen to workers on the front line.

I’ll provide you with a summary but I recommend you watch the rest of the conversation, which you can see in its entirety here.

[7:21] Don’t miss the story of the sick dinosaur that illustrates what human magic is

[13:44] His thoughts about flexible work

[19:17] His advocating for diversity and inclusion

[22:05] His point of view about hiring, leadership and happiness at work

[26:01] His vision for the coming 50 years

The Human Leader at Marriott International

A people-centric approach is also the cornerstone of Marriott International, according to Rasmus Hougaard, the founder and CEO of Potential Project, global research, leadership development and consulting firm that is on a mission to create a more human world of work.

In this Forbes article, Rasmus explained how Marriott has done it.

Cultivate More “Human” Leaders

Marriott leaders visit hotels and talk to employees (just as Hubert Joly went to talk to the frontline employees). It provides a role model for other managers, by showing that they are humble leaders.

Balance Stakeholders

At Marriott, employees are valid stakeholders deserving of consideration in every major decision, even if it is difficult. This was Hubert Joly’s strategy when he was advised to cut costs: he balanced the interests of different stakeholders.


To read entire article, click here

Editor’s note: This series of articles is by Yasmina Khelifi, a relatively young successful project manager, for project professionals of all ages, but especially Gen X, Y and Zers or others starting a PM career or looking for success tips for todays complicated, turbulent VUCA world. Yasmina is a project manager with a large multinational telecom in France while also an active PM professional, authoring articles, interviews, a popular LinkedIn blog and a podcast with a global audience.  Also active in PMI France for many years, she has been an international correspondent for the PMWJ since 2021. We are delighted that she has agreed to author a series of articles based on her personal experiences and perspective.

How to cite this paper: Khelifi, Y. (2023). Put People First, Making a Modern Project Manager, series article, PM World Journal, Vol. XII, Issue III, March. Available online at: https://pmworldjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/pmwj127-Mar2023-Kheilif-put-people-first-series-article.pdf

About the Author

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 Kehelifi, visit her author showcase in the PM World Library at https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/yasmina-khelifi/