My fields of capital project management include hydroelectric, river, marine, transportation, industrial, institutional, commercial and residential projects. Fields of corporate project management include project information systems, software development, productivity and expropriation claims, project management reviews and audits, and project portfolio management. Fields of personal project management assistance include advising corporate executives and senior managers, portfolio and project managers, other consultants and trainers, practitioners generally, as well as aspiring individuals.
As a result of my work as a registered professional engineer, I have been honored as a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers (UK), a Fellow of the Engineering Institute of Canada, and a Fellow of the Canadian Society of Civil Engineers. For the last 30 years I have specialized in project management as a result of which I have been recognized as a Fellow of the Project Management Institute (US). I am also a life member of the Chartered Management Institute (UK) having been a member for over 50 years.
In 1974, I joined the US-based Project Management Institute ("PMI") and launched the West Coast BC (Canada) Chapter of PMI in 1979. I was elected to the PMI International Board as Vice President Member Services (1984), then as President (1987) and Chairman of the Board (1988). A highlight of the period was that we put together a team of some 80 PMI volunteers from across North America to document the Project Management Body of Knowledge for the Institute. I edited the various submissions and obtained Board approval to publish the "PMBOK" in 1987.
Early drafts consisted of six functions but in particular I was keen to add a new field of study that I considered essential and specific to projects. I called it Project Risk Management. At first the Board was somewhat resistant but reluctantly agreed to consider the addition if I would subsequently write a suitable book as a supporting reference. This I readily agreed to and the result was the now well-known book: Project and Program Risk Management - A Guide to Managing Project Risks and Opportunities (1992). For these endeavors I received PMI recognition of "Distinguished Contribution" and "Person of the Year" in 1985 and 1986 respectively.
Thus I can reasonably claim not only to be the instigator of the label "PMBOK" but also the father of PMI's project risk management, the genesis of a now flourishing consulting industry in the USA.
In addition to Project Risk Management, I also wrote: A Framework for Project and Program Integration (1991). As the name implies, the purpose of this handbook was to establish the justification and typical background for project work. However, it also described the fundamental unfolding of the life of a project (project life span) and the cyclical management process required to keep the project on track. Unfortunately, the importance of these areas of study were lost on PMI at the time and, in my view, has been poorly represented in the literature ever since.
Since then, I have updated my original book, Cost Control of Capital Projects (1995) and written A Management Framework for Project, Program and Portfolio Integration (Trafford Publishing, Victoria, BC, Canada, 2004)) an update of the original Framework book. I have also contributed to a number of other books such as: "Project Risk Management" in Project Management Handbook (PMI/Jossey-Bass, 1998); "How to Motivate All Stakeholders to Work Together" in Field Guide to Project Management (Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1998, 2004) and "Professional and Personal Development Management: A Practical Approach to Education and Training" in Project Management for the BusinessProfessional - A Comprehensive Guide (Wiley, 2001).
As you can see, I have spent a lot of years in the "biz" as they say, and I've
learned a lot of things the hard way. I've had hands-on experience with a lot
of projects, from big ones running many years to little ones lasting only days;
in many different types from heavy civil engineering to building construction,
to social and environmental impact studies, to information systems and software.
I have experienced project management from the perspective of general contractor,
project manager, project director, consultant, real estate developer, and corporate
executive working in the public, private and non-profit sectors.
So, for the last half of my career I have tried to study the effectiveness
and efficiency of doing "projects", how to do them better, and how to make them
more successful, by improved communication and satisfying the people involved.
Perhaps, more importantly, I have spent a decade assembling the information I have
uncovered and made this freely available for all to see and understand - on this
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They call me Max but it should be Robert. However, my parents didn't like the nickname "Bob" and I didn't like "Robin". Someone at school spotted my middle name "Max" and thus it stuck. I knew I wanted to be a civil engineer ever since my first project - digging a hole in the soft sand of an English seaside beach and watching it fill with water from a rivulet issuing from further up the slope. Since then, I've dug a lot of holes and filled them with a lot of things like sewage plants, railway lines, water and ships, as well as hospitals and tall buildings.
My original hometown was Penarth, near Cardiff in South Wales, UK where I was born on January 19, 1927. However, my parents did not stay there long because my father obtained an assignment in Paris. From there the family moved to London where I attended Alpha Preparatory School in Harrow, Middlesex (as the county was then called). But then World War II came along and I was shuffled off to Bedford where I attended the Bedford Modern School. By 1944 I obtained entrance to the City and Guilds section of the Imperial College in Kensington, part of London University. This was just in time to experience the German V-1 and V-2 rocket attacks.
By 1947 I graduated with a Bachelors of Science degree with Honours in civil engineering, following which I spent two years doing mandatory service in the British army as a surveyor with the Royal Artillery. Part of this time I spent in Luneberg, Germany, where I had a secondary occupation of teaching basic education to enlisted soldiers.
Upon completion of this service in 1949, I joined the Demolition and Construction Company to obtain practical engineering experience as a registered pupil engineer under agreement for two years with the Institution of Civil Engineers. This was a necessary step prior to taking the Institution's final exam to qualify for full membership. As a part of this training, I was sent to Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire, where the construction company had a major contract for modernizing and expanding the local steel mill.
With my indenture out of the way in 1951, my wife and I moved to the British colony of Northern Rhodesia to work for three years for the Colonial Service in the Department of Water Development and Irrigation. However, in 1955 we decided to returned to the UK where I worked for two years in Scotland for Sir Murdoch MacDonald & Partners, consulting engineers, on a major hydroelectric scheme, followed by four years on a flood protection scheme in East Anglia. I then joined John Mowlem & Co. Ltd, general contractors, to work as a project engineer on a contract for a new steel works.
Two years later, I was appointed Chief Project Engineer, on a major renovation of dock works contract in central London, on the river Thames. By 1965 I was promoted to the position of Construction Agent (i.e. Site Construction Manager). The four years in the docks was a tough, challenging, practical and technical assignment that provided the basis for my application to the Institution for membership as a Fellow.
In late 1966 we decided we would like to emigrate to Canada and, as a result, arrived in Toronto where I joined the Pigott Construction Company to work on the prestigious downtown Toronto Dominion Centre. Subsequent opportunities took me to Victoria to work for the British Columbia government and finally to Vancouver where we presently reside. Along the way I have held a number of professional titles including Project Manager, Project Director, Vice President, and Principal. Since 1990, I have provided project management consulting advice through our own company, AEW Services.
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I have studied project management, researched it, and written books, papers and articles about it. I have also acted as a project management reviewer and project auditor. I have literally flown right around the world to talk to other people about project management and, at the same time incidentally, satisfied myself that the world is not flat. In doing so, and in working overseas, I have received input and opinions from people "on the ground" in many different countries.
Along the way, I know what it's like to:
- Lie awake on the top floor of a glassless windowed brick high-rise in a bombed city, wondering whether, in the event of a bombing, it would be better to descend on top of the rubble or live in the basement and be buried underneath it;
- Be blown across the road by a WWII flying bomb;
- Crawl through mud scooping it up into the barrel of my rifle while under fire;
- Be thrown off a cavalry horse and have it recaptured by a sympathetic German farmer;
- Build dams to provide African villages with a water supply;
- Sit quietly minding my own business in a primitive outside toilet, and have the bucket removed from under, via the back hatch;
- Watch with rooted fascination the darting tongue of a poisonous snake uncurling itself from around the hinges of the door of that same outside toilet;
- Solve a native conflict over a valued six-penny piece by chopping it in half;
- Watch a hillside collapse and destroy a year's work;
- Be in a cofferdam when it fails and floods with water;
- Carry a suitcase full of wages in cash and be rammed by a gang of thugs with a sawn-off shot gun. My assistant and I escaped with the cash and without injury, but the car was a real mess;
- Land in a new city not knowing anyone;
- Work long hours to make a living;
- Work many months away from home;
- Watch personal friends go bankrupt and work many hours on damage control;
- Be fired instantly, only to discover years later that I was just being "out placed";
- Write hundreds of letters looking for another job;
- Participate in litigation that cost more than the project that gave rise to the original dispute;
- Be the only white in a large, swarming, inquisitive crowd, not knowing whether or not that crowd is "friendly";
- Receive awards for public service that I'm not sure I deserve. I believe that people who feel that they are "entitled" should first earn the privilege and not expect others to pay for it.
So, there you have it all.
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