In our Meet the member series, we speak to a range of project professionals about their experiences as a project manager (PM), and their advice for fellow PMs.

Here we chat to Nick Jago MAIPM CPSPM, Technical Director for Mott MacDonald, about his career highlights and how his Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM) membership and certification have been fundamental to success.

1. You’ve been in the industry for 15 years, focusing predominately on large, complex infrastructure projects: what has been your most rewarding project to work on?

It’s difficult to answer without being very subjective – there have been different rewards from each of the projects I’ve been fortunate enough to work on. I think my favourite was the Outbound Processor Expansion Project at Auckland International Airport, mainly because of the team I got to work with in that environment, and also because of the impact that it had on the millions of people who fly to and from New Zealand every year.

2. We know you’re very experienced in stakeholder management, can you offer any advice that is often missed in this area?

One element that can be easy to overlook is the ability to consider each situation from the perspective of other parties. We all have our own basis of thought, shaped by our collective personal experiences. The ability to see how others can draw fundamentally different conclusions to you, based on exactly the same information, is highly valuable. It’s also incredibly tricky to execute with regularity, since we are naturally anchored to our own bias.

The ability to see how others can draw fundamentally different conclusions to you, based on exactly the same information, is highly valuable.


3. What other areas of project management are you passionate about, and why?

I am genuinely excited about trying to understand the psychology of projects, which is really the psychology of people in general. The common thread in project success is often an element that is intangible. Why are some projects considered successful, despite massive time and cost blowouts? Why are some projects that have been delivered exactly within the original constraints not viewed favourably? It all comes down to how they are received by the stakeholders, users and the general public, which is where the psychology comes in. I’m an avid fan of Derren Brown, and often reference his work in presentations I do, because how the human mind operates is fascinating to me.

4. How long have you been an AIPM member, and what is the biggest benefit?

I’ve been a member of the AIPM for nearly fourteen years now, pretty much since I moved to Australia. I think the benefits are different depending on what you’re looking for – for me I’ve been able to meet some excellent people in the industry through the AIPM and enhance my professional network (which started from scratch when I relocated here). I also appreciate that RegPM certification is providing a recognisable, standardised benchmark for the profession, and am working with several of my Mott MacDonald colleagues to go through this process right now.

5. As a regular presenter for the AIPM, what are the advantages for you of giving back to the industry?

The advantages for me are increased exposure to the industry. In fact, one year at the awards night after the national conference, my trousers actually split on the dancefloor, which was probably too much exposure! It’s good being able to share ideas with others – the feedback I get from doing presentations always helps me learn and grow myself. I’m possibly getting more value from it than the people I’m presenting to!

6. How has becoming a Certified Practicing Senior Project Manager through the AIPM impacted your career?

It’s helped me get to the position that I’m in right now, without a doubt. It won’t be too long before I go for CPPD – it does take effort but I think it is worth it in the long run. I’d expect that we will soon see project management certification become mandatory to be eligible for certain jobs or to compete in some tenders for larger clients.

[Becoming a Certified Practicing Senior Project Manager through the AIPM] helped me get to the position that I’m in right now, without a doubt.


7. You’ve always been a big advocate for supporting emerging project professionals in building successful careers, what advice would you give for young professionals now?

This question burns a little as I haven’t completely given up on considering myself as young yet! [Sorry, Nick!] My personal view is that no matter how early in your PM career you are, capability will always shine through. A lot of people get hung up on judging by ‘years of experience’, but it is possible to be a project manager with 20 years behind you and have lower competence than a one year grad. It’s all about your skills, and we are fast approaching a point with digital project management where the landscape will tilt in favour of those who are digitally savvy. So be confident in your ability and demonstrate what you can do, no matter your age.

If you’re a project manager and would like to join a community of like-minded professionals and stay up to date on what’s happening in project management, learn more about Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM) membership. AIPM membership provides access to resources, professional development, a community forum, and lots of other opportunities that you need to excel in your career.