IPMA International Project Management Association
4 August 2017 / 10:45

The 30th IPMA World Congress: Interview with the President of the IPMA – Reinhard Wagner

The 30th IPMA World Congress will be held in September in Astana, Kazakhstan. World Congress conducts interviews with many of our key speakers who will be presenting at our upcoming events. We had an exclusive interview with the President of the IPMA Mr. Reinhard Wagner.

As organizing team of the 30th IPMA World Congress we tried to invite leading speakers, and ask them to address issues that will show the importance of the Congress agenda. Of course, we invite the President of IPMA Mr. Reinhard Wagner who addresses the latest trends of successful project-oriented organizations.

For our introduction: this will be the 30th IPMA World Congress Do you agree that is quite an achievement these days?

This is another important milestone for IPMA. Since the beginning events played a decisive role for the development of IPMA and the profession at large. Experts from all over the world met and exchanged ideas, experiences and carried important know-how back to their workspaces. During a World Congress the networking is another crucial part, helping to connect people, communities and the profession. Nothing less than shaping the future of project management is the achievement of the IPMA World Congresses…

In your opinion how has project management itself changed in that period and across the Congress events?

Absolutely, IPMA started as an exchange of experts about network planning, the World Congress in 1990 changed the focus on “managing by projects” and many other new topics emerged, such as intercultural project management (Panama 2015). Project Management is a very dynamic discipline, IPMA is since it´s inauguration in 1965 a significant driver of this development and the IPMA World Congress is like an annual exhibition of “what´s new and which way do we need to go”.

With new technology, webinars, video streams all being available what do you think is the appeal of live face-to-face events such as the World Congress?

We are using modern technology like webinars, video streaming, live chats etc. in IPMA. However, the real social contact is the most important exchange, it builds on trust, on mutually beneficial exchange and on the respect of people. This is very difficult to replace or facilitate through modern technologies, they could certainly assist, support or complement.

Do you think there will be another ten or twenty or thirty World Congresses stretching out into the distance? In the same or similar formats?

Certainly, this format is valuable as it is also a window for each country to present itself to the world of project management and demonstrate its capabilities in managing projects through a professional organization and many projects on stage (e.g. through the international or national Project Excellence Awards). Increasingly, the IPMA World Congress is used to connect industry experts and start business relations, so it´s not only family & friends…

Bringing together the academic, practitioner and commercial aspects of project management at a World Congress has been a particular feature and attraction to delegates. How has IPMA been able to do this?

As IPMA is gathering experts of all sectors of our society, it is mirroring the society and the need for professional project management in every dimension. We have academics involved in IPMA, through research, Special Interest Groups, Education and Training as well as analyzing the future ways of managing projects. Certainly, practitioners and the project business are represented in IPMA, they present the real life of projects, the critical success factors and lessons learned, they are the laboratory for academics and thus the incubators for many new ideas (e.g. agile project management). But there is another group of people, strongly involved in IPMA, intermediaries like consultants, coaches and trainers, working with practitioners on how to improve and realize better results. The latter are mostly creative people and thus they are important for an IPMA World Congress to listen to.

The IPMA World Congress is often referred to as a flagship event. Could you tell us about the rest of the fleet please?

IPMA is an international association and thus focuses on international events, for example the IPMA Research Conference, this year happening early November in Incheon, Korea. Or our Special Interest Group (SIG) Events, such as the SIG Megaprojects Event being conducted end of September in Poreč, Croatia. Furthermore, we have regional events, for example last month in Piura, Peru for the Latin American Member Associations. The Young Crew of IPMA celebrates several international events, such as the GeCCo Global e-Collaboration Competition, the International PM Championship and the Global Young Crew Workshop. However, nearly all our national member associations celebrate an annual event, invite international guest speakers and thus encourage for international exchange.

Which features of World Congresses do you particularly enjoy? And which ones do you worry about or fear?

Personally, I like the networking most, the great gala and the recognition of outstanding projects or project managers as well as the inspiring key note speeches. There is a lot to add to that list. What I do fear the days before the event is that something really bad happens which could cause IPMA or the organizer to cancel the event. Luckily, we weren´t yet in that situation, but you never know and certainly it discourages a whole team working very hard to make this event an outstanding experience for all participants.

How do anticipate celebrating the 30th Congress as a significant milestone in the IPMA journey?

Every World Congress is a significant milestone for IPMA, it demonstrates our diversity as it always happens in a different country and thus also a special culture. We will celebrate it in Astana, embracing the special culture of the country and the profession there… and certainly will have a look back to the other congresses in our history.

What are the likely legacies of holding an IPMA World Congress – and a Global Young Crew Workshop and an IPMA Council of Delegates Meeting – in Astana in September? For the local community and for the international dimensions?

Having the world of project management at home is always a great legacy, demonstrating your own achievements and the culture to the participants. We will certainly get more insights into the country, the context for projects, the practice and also the culture. This is why we typically experience a special night featuring the culture including the traditions like music, food and artists.

Have you been to Astana before? What aspects did you enjoy and would recommend to others?

It will be my first time in Astana and I´d like to experience it during the week of the events. I do not really prepare of a visit, I just want to dive into the culture and experience it step by step. So I just like to recommend to plan for some time visiting the city, the International EXPO and the surroundings.

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Sandra Misic

Author of this post

Sandra currently works as Assistant to the IPMA President and Executive Director. Since joining IPMA in 2012, Sandra worked in FMCG sector for Procter&Gamble. She holds Master in Economics from Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Zagreb. After graduation she continued at the same University the doctoral programme in Business Economics. Her particular research interest is behavioral economics.