What does your role entail?
My role is incredibly varied. The majority of my day involves communicating with the project team, including project planners and schedulers, and other key stakeholders within the organisation, such as members of the Commercial or Integrated Logistics functions. I ensure that the various elements of a project (e.g. time, cost, scope and risk) and the people that deal with those elements talk to each other, and that the tools we use are updated and accurate to reflect what is happening in the projects. The other aspect of my role is to ensure the team are working within the DE&S guidelines. It is important to establish a baseline with a project so that we are not deviating from what was originally agreed and approved in terms of costings and timeframes, and so that any variance is within an acceptable tolerance level.
What was your career path to becoming a Project Controls Manager? Where did you begin?
I originally joined DE&S in 2016 as a Deputy Chief of Staff. After returning from maternity leave, I wanted a new challenge and to learn something completely different. I successfully applied internally to become a risk manager. It was in this role that I developed an aspiration to become a project controls manager; I felt that this would utilise the skills I had learnt from previous roles outside DE&S and would fundamentally suit my personality more. I discovered an opportunity to work with a colleague who was interested in a job share in that role, so we met to discuss this option and agreed to take on the role through a job share arrangement. We are still in that team, both on a fast track development scheme, and finding our roles challenging and rewarding. We have a great relationship and there are no regrets.
What difference does your role make? Why is your role important? Who does your role impact?
My role ensures that project schedules, records and documents are accurate and have adhered to the necessary standards as defined by the organisation. I am the go-between for the project manager and other members of the Project Controls team, supporting both sides to ensure that the information obtained, is accurate, consistent and easy to understand. My role is important as I support individuals across the whole delivery team to support the delivery of the project and ensure the project controls remit is performed successfully. I have an overview of the project that others don’t so I can share, advise and support people to carry out their roles the best that they can. Project Controls enables senior civil servants to understand their projects and if they are on track, so that together we can deliver our projects to support those on the military front line.
What are some of the most exciting projects you’ve worked on?
I would say that the most exciting projects I’ve worked since joining DE&S are the projects that I work on now. I am the project controls manager for six projects and more than half of those are to design, deliver and support crucial equipment for men and women in operating theatres in the field. You get a real sense of achievement when you know that you are part of a team who is making a difference and potentially saving lives.
Why DE&S? What makes it a great place to work?
I joined DE&S because I always wanted to do something where I felt that I was making a difference and contributing to something important. DE&S offered a complete change for me, with lots of new things to learn and experience. DE&S is a great place to work because it strikes the perfect balance between offering challenging yet rewarding positions, giving the opportunity to progress and be promoted, whilst respecting work-life balance and being supportive of your personal life. I honestly think I would’ve struggled to find this type of role on a part-time basis elsewhere, and it’s great to feel trusted to deliver as effectively as my full-time colleagues. There is always room to develop, gain qualifications and experience new aspects of project delivery. DE&S is also fully supportive of a diverse and inclusive workplace and work hard to understand how staff are feeling and act on that feedback, to ensure we are continually improving.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start a career in your field at DE&S?
DE&S is a very large organisation and it can take time to become familiar with the culture and the wide range of teams and roles here. Therefore I’d recommend taking time to let yourself adjust and acclimatise to your new environment. The more you start to understand your surroundings and what other people do, the more able you will be to make important decisions about what future role you see yourself in as you look to progress here. Whatever you decide to do, you will be given plenty of opportunity and will be fully supported.
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