As part of our series of interviews with project managers, JP Hilliard, associate director with Lafferty Project Managers, elaborates on skills, challenges and methodologies relating to project management
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JP Hilliard, Lafferty Project Managers

The Project Management Society is publishing a series of profiles of project managers over the coming months on EngineersJournal.ie. The aim is to explore the similarities and differences between project managers across different industries with regard to skills, challenges and methodologies.

This edition features a profile of JP Hilliard, associate director with Lafferty Project Managers. Hilliard is a graduate of Dublin Institute of Technology (Bolton Street), the Institute of Project Management of Ireland, Heriot Watt University and Oxford Brookes University.

What is your primary qualification?

My primary qualification is as a civil-engineering technician, with an MSc in Construction Project Management and an MBA. I also hold the following qualifications:

  • CEng Tech – Technician’s Diploma in Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Dip APM – Postgraduate Diploma (distinction) in Applied Project Management
  • MSc – Master’s degree (distinction) in Construction Project Management
  • MBA – Master’s degree Business Administration

In which industry are you currently employed?

I hold the role of associate director with Lafferty Project Managers. Lafferty was established in 1997. We provide project management and architecture services. We work with industry-recognised property, real estate and institutional investors on landmark projects.

Some of our clients include ESB, Kennedy Wilson, Multi Corporation, Hibernia REIT, Meyer Bergman, Twitter, Yahoo!, Workday, Friends First, Zeltiq, Aramark, Avoca, Grant Thornton, Marketo, MTT, Siemens and others. Lafferty Project Managers’ core values include integrity, innovation, collaboration and commitment.

How and why did you get into project management?

I started out my professional career working in the precast-concrete industry and thereafter in various design consultancies in Dublin. However, in 2003, I decided to embark on a new career direction into project management, and I enrolled in a postgraduate diploma course in the Institute of Project Management Ireland.

Thereafter, I secured my first project management role in a telecommunications project-management company Threefold and, in 2005, I moved into mainstream construction project management with KSN Project Management.

What project management methodologies/frameworks do you use or have you used in the past?

In Lafferty, we generally follow the PMBOK project-management methodology. However, we also use a stage-gate approach and approvals process in all our projects to facilitate stakeholders’ sign off. We use this at each project stage before the project moves forward.

What is your most interesting project to date, and why?

I am very fortunate to have worked on many challenging projects across various industry sectors in both Ireland and the Middle East, for both private- and public-sector clients. However, my most interesting, rewarding and challenging project to date is my recent successful completion and handover of Cumberland House for Hibernia REIT to Twitter for their new EMEA HQ in September 2016.

One of the critical success factors of this project was the teamwork and attitude adopted by the entire project team to deliver a project to extremely challenging timescales. The project goal included refurbishing and regenerating this 1970s building to current industry standards, whilst also achieving LEED Platinum.

What are the key challenges in managing a project successfully?

The key challenges are manifold, but engendering a workplace and project environment of trust, collaboration and a ‘can do’ attitude will greatly assist your chances of a successful project.

What are the key skills necessary to manage a project successfully?

The key skills necessary in any project are interlinked and mutually dependent. In my experience, without the right team in place who have the requisite capabilities, capacity and expertise (technical and soft skills), to deliver to the project, the opportunity for a successful project is greatly reduced.

In addition, engendering trust throughout the project team, and with the client in the form of being a trusted advisor, is also critical to a successful project.

If somebody wanted to move from a commercial/technical role to a PM role, what advice would you give them on their first step?

I would suggest that they talk to their peers and gain a better understanding of the ‘soft’ skill requirements of the role of a project manager, particularly in terms of the requirement for effective and efficient communications.

If you were to change careers tomorrow, what would you do?

I have a long-held interest in aeroplanes and the airline industry in general from an early age, so being an airline or helicopter pilot sounds interesting. My interest and participation in sports since a young age also makes a career as a physiotherapist appealing, too!

http://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/project-manager-1024x726.jpghttp://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/project-manager-300x300.jpgDavid O'RiordanCivilDIT,management,project management
The Project Management Society is publishing a series of profiles of project managers over the coming months on EngineersJournal.ie. The aim is to explore the similarities and differences between project managers across different industries with regard to skills, challenges and methodologies. This edition features a profile of JP Hilliard, associate director...