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Our Increasingly Project-Centric World, With Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez

As today’s business scene becomes a more project-centric world, everyone now have more opportunities to get out of the dull grind and make their work much more interesting. J.R. Lowry sits down with Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez, a global champion of project management, to discuss how to apply project management concepts in building better-performing teams. Antonio explains how this approach can build your team’s confidence, find the right business sponsors, and escape the boring routine that could be messing up your productivity. They also discuss how having a project-centric mindset leads to a more fulfilling career path and why setting smaller-scale goals allows a business to keep a strong momentum.

Check out the full series of “Career Sessions, Career Lessons” podcasts here or visit A full written transcript of this episode is also available at

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Our Increasingly Project-Centric World, With Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez

Former Chair Of The Project Management Institute

My guest is Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez. He is a global champion of project management and the author of the Harvard Business Review Project Management Handbook and HBR’s featured article, The Project Economy has Arrived, which argues that projects are the lingua franca of the business and personal worlds from the C-Suite to managing your careers. Antonio has served as the Global Chairman of The Project Management Institute, arguably the world’s largest training ground for project managers, and he has been recognized as a fellow of the PMI for his contributions to the project management profession.

In his work, Antonio advises senior leaders on prioritizing and implementing strategic initiatives and leading transformational change. He is the Sustainability Transformation Program Director at GlaxoSmithKline vaccines. Antonio is also the author of Lead Successful Projects, The Project Revolution and The Focused Organization. He is a visiting professor at six different institutions. He was born in Madrid and educated in Germany, Mexico, Italy, and the United States. He has an MBA from London Business School and INSEAD’s IDP. Antonio, welcome, and thanks for joining me on the show.

Thank you for the invitation. It’s a pleasure.

Looking Back

I appreciate it. Let’s dive right in. In the intro, I probably gave only a high-level and partial summary of the many things that you do. Give us a more complete sense of the things that span your day-to-day work and maybe some of the things you’re involved with a little bit more episodically as well.

My career, focus or inspiration happened when I was fired from working for a big consulting firm. I was very passionate about projects. Project managers, senior leaders, CEOs and partners said, “We don’t see a future in project management. It is very tactical. Nothing is very relevant.” That was a bad moment, but a very valuable moment to see that there was an issue that people didn’t see any value or strategic value or as a core competency project management.

For many years, I have focused on elevating projects and project management for everyone, senior leaders and anyone doing projects. My day is very diverse. Every day, I have new questions and new challenges. I love the research about projects. The world is full of good and bad projects. It’s a very exciting area to be in.

It’s amazing that that firm suggested to you that there wasn’t a future for them, at least in project management, because it’s inherent in everything we do. There’s an aspect of project management almost. Unless you literally come in and do the same thing every day on an assembly line or something like that, there will be a project component in your job. Learning those skills certainly for the people I work with. It is something they view as a real priority. We’ll get to PMI in a minute. A lot of them have sought the PMI certification for that reason.

It’s interesting because you can learn marketing, sales or strategy, but you might never use it, but project and project management, almost everyone is doing 1 or 2 projects also for their personal lives. It’s something that is not being shared in business schools or universities. It’s a core or a vital skill that, if you learn some of the basics, is going to have a big impact. I totally agree with your reflection there.

Project management is not being taught in business schools or universities. It is a core skill set that can lead to a big impact once you learn its basics. Share on X

From the point you left that firm to ultimately becoming the chair of the Project Management Institute and a leading thinker in the world on project management, how did that journey take place?

When I had that reflection moment of what to do with my life and my career, I looked at places where I could have more influence, not just me as a person or passionate, but in platforms where people would recognize that it is not just me, but the profession that matters. I’ve been a member of PMI. I was certified and then I saw an opportunity there to try to be on the board. I made it to the board and chairman because I think that’s a big place where you can influence. PMI has almost 1 million members. Imagine the impact that you can have. That was one of my targets. The other one was Thinkers50, for example.

I was not going for project management forums or events. Most project managers are already converted. My vision was to go to places where nobody knew about project management or even thought that it was something tactical and that you needed to convince them. Thinkers50, Peter Drucker Forum and HBR, for example, didn’t publish very much around project management. They have the same thinking, “We prefer Agile. We prefer things that are a bit more fancy. Project management looks very old.” I had very clear focus areas, the board and chairman of PMI where we launched the Brightline Initiative, which was basically to close the gap between strategy and projects. It was what I wanted to do. I can already see the benefits.

Other than that moment at your consulting firm that you were in, was there a moment of your own where you had a particular project that you focused on that highlighted for you the importance of honing your craft in this area?

I started my career there at Unisys. It’s a tech company in Amsterdam. I was a business analyst. I was putting orders in the system, following up on the orders and the logistics, and then when they were done, invoicing. It’s a very admin, operational-type of role. About six months into the job, somebody said, “We’re looking for volunteers to join a project.” I didn’t know that the project was to create a shared service center for Unisys for the whole of Europe based in Amsterdam. I joined that. I loved that from the first moment because it was non-routine. You mentioned that before. Every day was different. Every day, you need to use your brain. Every day was challenging. I love that.

I was going back to my normal job, which was boring. It was doing the processing. That wasn’t a big moment, but I had big projects. I was in banking when the crisis happened, and the bank collapsed in 2008. This makes you reflect on what makes a project succeed and fall. Sometimes, it’s not just the project. When I teach, I always say, “You can have the perfect project, a great plan and everything scope, but if the organization, the culture and leadership are not supporting, that project will fail.” I learned to look at other aspects beyond project fundamentals to be successful.


If you had to pick one, what would you say is the most important aspect of successful project management?

I would say the mindset. We all do projects in our lives. Some people don’t need to learn how to make a WBS or a Gantt chart. Just by nature, they’re good at planning and execution. What I notice is that these people who are successful with projects have a strong mindset. They take projects as something that is a bit like a startup, or they feel like the CEO of the project. They would fight for it. They will speak up for it. They will defend the team. Most project management and the way the role has been presented for 50 years is more like a delivery person. You deliver. If it’s working or not, you don’t care. It’s not your problem. If it delivers value, it’s not your problem. As long as you meet the milestones and deadline and are on budget and scope, that’s good.

Your job is done. Something that I’m trying to change is we need to be more accountable for the benefits and for creating value for our organizations and societies. What I see as a key threat is that mindset in which you feel empowered. The one thing that I always teach is in project management is there are no hierarchies. We use hierarchies because we come from a hierarchical world. Most organizations have twenty layers and you respect the layers, but that’s the operational world. In projects, there’s no hierarchy. If you need to talk to the CEO and he is five levels above you, but you need the CEO to make a decision, you go straight to that.  People feel, “I’m still hierarchical.” There are a lot of barriers that are required to be successful in projects. That’s why the mindset is important.

You see this in project people who get too focused on the trees, not the forest. You ultimately need a bit of that entrepreneurial spirit to think about, “I’m going to get this done. I’m going to make sure we deliver what we set out to deliver.” If I have to be a bit creative in the right ways, I’ll do that. I’m not just an execution-following-orders person. I think the people who struggle are the ones who don’t seize the white space, the open ground that you need to be a good project manager.

You see the difference when people step up and feel more confident. One thing I spent a lot of time on was teaching how to talk because one of the reasons why people didn’t appreciate project management is very technical. People outside this space, around 80% of the people involved in projects, don’t understand what is WBS, schedule or work statement and don’t care. They will never learn that. Instead of imposing tools and techniques that nobody cares about, just simplify. Understand what the stakeholders want and then you’ll have much more engagement. I do a lot of work in simplification. That makes a big difference, as do the mindset and the simplification. You create much more engagement.

Common Mistakes

What kind of other mistakes did project managers typically make? Is this one of those, “How much time do we have,” questions?

I love the questions. I think you go to the critical issues. I write a lot in the newsletter. My newsletter is on LinkedIn. One of the posts I’m working on is, “Stop your project immediately if,” and I was going to explain some of the things. For example, if you’re doing a big digital transformation for your company and the sponsor is not showing up, it could be the CEO or a VP, but that person doesn’t dedicate at least 1 or 2 hours per week, stop your project immediately.

These projects will require resources across the organization. If nobody from the top shows up by being present and helping you, you’re going to hit the wall 100%. I think that’s one of the biggest issues if there’s no sponsorship for a big transformation. The senior leaders don’t know that, but one of the main reasons for project failure is the engagement from senior leaders. That’s one of them.

Another one that I love, and it’s also very interesting, very frustrating or shocking, is that every project has a Gantt chart, but the Gantt chart is about how you deliver the projects and the deliverables. What I found is that you show the Gantt chart, but nobody cares about it. It’s too detailed. It’s how you’re going to build your house. What projects should have is a benefit plan.

When are we going to start bringing revenues or increasing customer satisfaction? That’s the benefit plan that you need to have, but most projects don’t have it. There’s a big gap. If you don’t have a benefit plan, stop your project and build it because you don’t create engagement by talking about your Gantt chart. That’s another one, which is incredible, and we didn’t capture it before.

You make the point that it has to be more than about time and on budget. In my experience, what I find is a lot of times the benefits are vague. They’ll be non-quantifiable and soft benefits. We need this to improve the customer experience. How are we going to measure that? I’m not sure it’s intertwined with everything else we do that will impact customer experience, but we think it’s the right thing to do. Sometimes, you go forward with those things because there’s enough agreement that they make sense to do anyway. Other times, you need to push for something more tangible.

This is why there’s a lack of engagement in many of these projects. I work with lots of big companies and they launch a big corporate project for the whole world, then you talk to the countries, clusters or the region and they say, “They never ask us. They have set goals and we don’t care.” They push this down and say, “We’ll support because we have to with corporate, but we’ll give them our worse resources.”

They disconnect between the corporate project world and the reality of the people. It’s a big issue. One of the main issues is that stakeholders are not involved in defining the benefits. This is a big space where I think you can also create a big impact. I do workshops. Benefit management is something that I love because if you do it right, your project is something different.

I’ll share one very simple technique that anybody following your show can use. Imagine I’m launching a new asset management software for a company and I define the benefits. I have no clue about asset management, but I’m the project leader. I define them for you and for the rest. Instead of doing that, which is what we’ve done forever, I would say, “I’m launching this asset management software. What would you like to see? What would this project help you with? Can you tell me what you need from this?” I go to the stakeholders like you, and you say, “I would like to reduce the time that we spend following up through orders. Can you automate that?”

I’ll say, “Of course. How do you measure that? You know more than me on how to measure.” You tell me, “We have this KPI that we track on a weekly basis. That’s the one I want to hit.” I will say, “When do you need that?” “If we would have that in six months, then that would make me happy.” I’ll say, “Thank you.” You will tell me, “How can I help you with your project because you are helping me? I want to help you.” Instead of me imposing on you, “JR, we’re launching this project. I need three people from your team. Thank you very much.”

That’s something that we’ve done, top-down in project management when it should be bottom-up. The benefit is the most important factor for engagement. I’m taking a risk because then I’m opening up to you and saying, “I’m making some expectations. I’m creating expectations on you.” My role is if I don’t deliver, I take a risk, but I think that’s all about project management. It is taking risks so that we can deliver together.

Business Ownership And Sponsorship

It goes back a little bit to what you were saying about business ownership. In the company that I worked for, we used to use the term sponsor. Sponsor was one of those terms that didn’t have enough weight and we didn’t get consistent enough ownership. We changed it to accountable executive, which forces somebody in the business to realize that, ultimately, they’re the ones who are responsible for this, not the project manager or the project team on their own. We make them present the business case and the initial impact assessment.

It’s a similar way of getting at what you’re describing, of having the conversation with that business person to make sure that they’ve got some skin in the game and that they have a vested interest in making sure that it’s successful. A lot of times, particularly if you have central project groups, people dump problems onto them and then wash their hands of it and aren’t engaged enough. It makes it a lot harder for those projects to be successful in that context.

One thing I also teach is exactly what you’re saying. If there’s a sponsor who is not showing up, as a project manager, you have the right to go to the CEO and sponsor and say, “Either you put the time or let’s find somebody else.” This is something that most project managers do. The sponsor is luck or a lottery. If you are lucky, you get a good one. If you’re not lucky, then your struggle and your project will be difficult.

Why do we leave it to luck? Go up and say, “I need that.” If you’re not there, then you stop it. It’s the right of the project manager. You’re the project manager. I always say the sponsor is about 25% of the success of your project. Imagine if you don’t have that person, then it is going to be very difficult. Go and get it. Don’t leave it to luck because it’s a lot of weight in a big project.

Career Sessions, Career Lessons | Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez | Project-Centric World

Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez: Getting the right sponsors is about 25% of the success of your project. Do not leave it to luck. Find the right person to provide you with the right support.


Despite your guidance about there not being a hierarchy or there shouldn’t be a hierarchy in a project team, there is still. A lot of people are afraid to raise those issues, particularly when it relates to a lack of accountability in the business sponsor, because it feels like you’re going behind their back. At the same time, most of these projects, particularly corporate-level projects, have a good burn rate, whether you’re looking at it every day, every week or whatever, and when you lose time, time is money in that case. You literally have a group of people who are not being as productive as they should be because you’re not getting the right level of engagement from your business sponsor.

How did it work in your company when you made the sponsors accountable? Did you notice a change?

Performance Goals

We’ve seen a change. One of the things that we’re still working on is the intent to put project success into their performance goals. That’s happened inconsistently. That’s something that we’ll need to work on. Even the simple language change and the process of having them do the presentation of the business case, not the project manager, makes a difference. I think we’ve seen generally a step up. Certainly, as we’ve continued to work on making project delivery better, we’ve seen improvements in terms of the metrics of projects that get done, particularly on time.

We were generally very good at delivering on budget, but we didn’t always get things done on time. We’ve put much more focus on not pruning scope to hit the date and making sure that we get the benefits. The challenge with benefits is always that some benefits take time. It goes back a little bit to what you were saying. You have to figure out, “How can I measure whether this is working while I’m doing it and not have to wait 1 or 2 years to see whether it worked?” which is a challenge.

It’s a challenge, but I think that’s where you can make a big difference. Back to that mindset that I mentioned before, I think the best project managers or leaders will be, “We have a target. Maybe during sustainability, we need to reduce plastic use by 2030 completely.” A good, excellent project manager nowadays will say, “I will go to my boss and say, ‘2030 is the target. If I get that, I can get that target by 2026.’”

It is not just delivered on time and within budget, but now, it is more about how we can deliver the benefits faster. Maybe not all of them, but at least you need to show something in six months and what you need to make that happen. That’s only the key question. What are the benefits and how can you deliver them faster without sacrificing scope or quality? That’s where I would like people to move so that value becomes the priority.

Determine how your business can deliver quality results faster without sacrificing scope or quality. Share on X

One of the other things a lot of companies wrestle with, and we would be among them, is how you bridge the business tech divide, if you want to call it that. More and more projects are tech-enabled. Getting the technology people to have enough appreciation of the business side of things and vice versa always feels like a challenge. People operate in their functional silos.

Most of the questions you’re making are the concepts I’m trying to develop for this new book I’m starting to work on for HBR. It is how to become, as an organization, more project-driven. That links to these few points that we talk about in the senior leadership accountability, but also the collaboration, across breaking those silos also within projects, which are, I think, one of the bigger challenges when you become into requirements and scope, definition and alignment. To be honest, what I share is not super complicated. Try to put everybody together. Don’t work in silos when you define goals, your project and the scope.

Put everybody around the table, tech people, business people and even some customers, vendors, and sponsors, and together, define the boundaries of what you want to do and what’s out of scope. When you get that level of alignment, then you can work with teams individually. I did a lot of SAP projects and IT projects and amazingly, SAP projects are always laid by far over the project by millions. It was that you build the scope and the requirements by talking to groups individually, and then you struggle because nothing connects. It’s crazy.

Career Sessions, Career Lessons | Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez | Project-Centric World

Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez: Don’t worry about silos when defining goals. When you define your project and its scope, put everybody around the table to make it a success.


I was reminded of a project that we had finished at my company. We started it during COVID, and obviously, most of the initial work was virtual. There was one point where we said, “We need everybody to come into a room together.” After that session, our chief technology officer said, “We made a ton of progress just having everybody around the table.” To your point, it worked great. Two weeks later, everybody on the team had COVID. It’s a little bit of a special circumstance.

Keeping The Momentum

I wanted to ask you about project management in different contexts. When you’re doing a bigger-scale transformation, this isn’t a 3 or 6-month project. It’s like an SAP integration or some other big system integration or whatever the case may be. I’m curious to get your view on what you have to manage differently about those. Certainly, one thing that would come to mind for me is keeping the energy going because it’s months. You’ll work on something for months and months before you get to that finish line. There’s a big difference between a Project 5K and a Project Marathon.

There’s already been quite a lot of research on large projects and mega projects, and they tend to fail much more than the smaller ones. I think here the strategy, even if you have a three-year massive program, is to start small. Make mini projects of 3 or 4 months. Focus on those three months, and then you keep momentum. People know where the end of that phase or mini-project is. You can celebrate success in three months. You can do lessons learned in three months. “Let’s do the next three months.” We learned that we can do that better.

How Big Things Get Done is a very good book from a professor in Oxford. There are not many people in this space who talk beyond what traditional project management is. Professor Bent Flyvbjerg is a good reference in this space. He recommends similar. The biggest projects always have that modular approach, which is a bit Agile, if you know Agile, and is more micro, but don’t work on a 3-year project because the motivation will be gone after 6 months if you don’t slice it and keep the momentum, give them some breaks and then push back again. That’s the mistake we made all the time in the ‘80s, ‘90s, and 2000s because we didn’t think that we could slice projects like that.

Career Sessions, Career Lessons | Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez | Project-Centric World

The whole idea of what started as rapid application development many years ago and the rise of Agile since then. It forces you to deliver in smaller bite-sized chunks that are measurable. Even if they don’t deliver the end result, you’ve at least got something to say, “We said we were going to get this part of the program done, and we got it done.” It gives people a sense of success and focus so that you don’t have months go by without there being a measuring stick about whether you’ve delivered what you’re setting out to deliver.

It works for personal projects, too, if you want to run, learn, lose weight, or put a 6 or 4-week target, and then you learn what you did. It’s just common sense, but we were not doing that. That helps a lot.

Strategic Planning And Execution

What about you talked about the Brightline Initiative that you’ve worked on trying to bridge between strategic execution and project management? What are the key aspects of that that make applying project concepts and strategic execution a good way of thinking about it?

There are a lot of books on strategic planning. The most famous on execution. There’s very little. There’s maybe The Balanced Scorecard from Kaplan and Norton. That’s the best one. The challenge here is how to connect your strategy to programs and projects. How do you connect that to your business as usual? How do you run your operations successfully while you try to change them at the same time?

That’s where I think project managers need to learn more. We do projects to run the business more effectively and to sell more products. I don’t see that connection happening all the time. We think that the project is a project by itself. Never. It’s how you connect it, integrate it and impact your whole business that makes a bigger difference. Brightline helped to create more awareness and know why strategy implementation fails, but there’s a lot of room for improvement.

One of the biggest points I always make is that less is more when discussing strategy objectives. Most companies have way too many goals and projects.  It’s more about, “How can we keep focus? How can we know what the top three initiatives are?” Put our best people deliver, and then launch 1 or 2 more. There’s an implementation. The more successful companies I’ve seen are the ones that are extremely focused because they know where to focus when they need to make a decision. We make lots of decisions throughout the day, but everybody decides in the same direction, and that’s powerful.

Most companies have way too many goals or projects to accomplish. Instead of drowning yourself in work, focus on your top three initiatives and put the best people to deliver optimal results. Share on X

They say the strategy is as much about what you choose not to do. It is what you choose to do. I think a lot of companies struggle with that, and I think you bring it down to the project management level and they try and do too much at once. They bury their key subject matter experts. You can hire all the project managers you want, but I think that the pinch point, at least in my experience, is always the people who are the domain experts in the relevant areas. They tend to be the same people all the time. They’re the ones who become the bottlenecks, which is more than your capacity to bring in project management.

The capacity is a big issue. How much can you deliver? I love what you’re saying. It’s about saying, “No.” That’s a difficult choice. The difficult decision is to say no. We all struggle with that. I think senior leaders should be better at that because it impacts the whole organization in a positive or a negative way.

Career As A Project

I know you speak as well about project management, which is a mindset that’s inherent in the way that we manage our careers. I wanted to make sure we spent a few minutes on that to see you on it.

Coming from many years ago, you would not see your career as a project. It was more about loyalty and staying in a job, but nowadays, you see your career as a set of projects, a portfolio of projects that can be sequential, but you can run some projects in parallel. That’s what you’ve done with the show and PathWise.

Building something on top of your day-to-day job is another project that I think is fulfilling. It’s in an area that you love and want. People will view their careers as a set of projects you can do. There’s always an end in your corporate project or in a startup. Thinking about what’s the next one and having a bigger picture of, “Where are you going with all these projects? Is there an end goal for your career, or are you going with the flow?”

Most of the time, there’s an end goal or something you want to reach in many years. Does that goal connect with the decisions that you’ve been making or moving forward? That is powerful because I think having a job you like, besides having a good partner, is one of the most important things that need to happen in life. You see many people that don’t enjoy work. They’re not happy and it’s painful. Taking a project approach to your career, where you can launch several projects at the same time and see the one that works better, is something I would be teaching to people when they’re looking at their career, early stages, mid-life careers, and most people are still lost. It’s painful to see.

Career Sessions, Career Lessons | Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez | Project-Centric World

Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez: Launch several projects at the same time and see which one works better. The same approach is applicable when building the right career for you.


Decline Of Traditional Corporate Structure

I would completely agree with that. Anybody who’s a regular reader has certainly read here before that the Gallup results show that the vast majority of workers are not engaged. It’s a tragedy of the modern world. The idea of portfolio careers and Dorie Clark, who we were talking about before we started the show, she is a proponent of the idea of taking an entrepreneurial mindset in the way that you think about your own professional life.

The gig economy has gotten bigger. You’ve got these matching platforms that match talent with need. It begs the question for me as to whether the traditional corporate structure is in decline or whether more is going to be a very fluid model of people coming together to work on things and then moving off to the next. Does it go that far in your mind?

You read what I have in my mind when I talk about these project economies. We’re moving from operational roles and business as usual. If you look at AI and robots, that’s what they take over. In a bank, you have more IT people than bankers. Many banking companies work in projects in Agile because the day-to-day is run through operations that have been automated. I have a chart using my keynotes. There’s a piece of operations and projects.

When AI and robots are used, 20% of the people working in operations are left, and some senior leaders tell me, “I don’t want anybody working in operations. What’s the added value?” They need to work in projects, in teams and in Agile. For me, the vision taking this forward, if people start working on projects, is that to create engagement, people will be able to choose the projects they want to work on.

We’re moving from this top-down approach where they tell you, “Congratulations, tomorrow you are starting this project.” No. Do you want to work on this project? That’s how you get the most engaged people. It’s people who volunteer. You launch their projects. Five people want to work on it. The other five, don’t even start them. Give them the opportunity to choose what they want. I see the corporate world as more of an ecosystem. People will be able to choose, “I want to work on a project for our partners,” or, “I want to work on a project for the foundation.”

There will not be those structures that we are trapped in this cage. People will choose to move sideways as well to choose the projects they want. I find it very exciting. I think there’s nothing where you learn more than doing projects and not everybody fits for a project, but when I know people in operations and they move into projects, I say, “I’m learning. I’m using my brain. I’m meeting new people. I was always working with accountants.” There are a lot of benefits. There’s a risk because, in six months, you don’t know what you’re going to be doing, but I think the benefits pay off that risk.

It’s different strokes for different people. First of all, I don’t think robots are going to take over all operations jobs. There’s always going to be something that requires a bit more situational awareness, but certainly, more of that will happen. It has been happening for decades in the white-collar world, robotic process automation or whatever you want to call it.

The other thing is, are you somebody who wants the consistency of day-to-day or are you somebody who, on the other end, wants to live from gig to gig? There are people across that spectrum. It’s what you want, but we have people who will come and work for us who don’t even want to be employees. They want to be contractors. They want to work on these things. They may have multiple going on at the same time. As I said, different strokes for different folks.

The younger generations are more inclined to this model. They are more experienced. They want more stability, but as we move forward, more and more people will embrace this approach.

New Trends

One last question. What else do you see out there in the project management landscape that is intriguing to you as a future trend?

It happened a while ago. It’s a huge luxury company worldwide. They asked me, “We’ve never trained in project management. Can you train 60 people?” I did three sessions. They came back and said, “Can you now train 5,000 people?” We realize that everybody is working on projects. They’ve never followed, not just even 1 or 2 hours. Can you scale up? Can you build these competencies across the entire organization? They might spend 1 or 2 days per week.

This is going to become something that companies will need to build. With that goes the senior leadership. There is a big transformation to be made as well, moving from that business as usual to being more change-driven. That’s where I want to focus on my book. How can we help the organization move from there to this more agile and fast-moving world? I think it’s very exciting. AI is coming into place. It’s going to be disruptive to several areas, which I think is exciting. Finally, after many years, I see that there’s a lot of momentum recognition. It’s not tactical anymore. It is strategic.

Closing Words

It’ll be interesting to see how some of these things play out, AI or otherwise, the project economy and all of it. There is the more traditional project management world, which is still something that a lot of companies need to be better at. Thank you for doing this. I appreciate your time. It’s been a great conversation and it’s good to dive into it a bit with you.

Thank you. You know a lot about this. It’s always a nice show where people say, “What’s projects?” You know and you lived it. It makes it even next to have this discussion. It was a pleasure. Hopefully, we can get together again once I’ve done my research and I have new things to share.

That would be great. Let me know if you get to London. We can certainly get together.

That would be nice. Thank you. Take care.

I want to thank Antonio for joining me in discussing all things project management, how project management concepts can also apply in things like strategic execution and transformational efforts, and even in your career. So much of what we do in business is project-related, as we talked about in the discussion. Honing good project management skills is pretty essential. If you’d like to learn more about this topic or other career-related topics, visit You can become a member. Basic membership is free. You can also sign up for our newsletter on the website. Follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. Thanks.


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About Antonio-Nieto Rodriguez

Career Sessions, Career Lessons | Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez | Project-Centric WorldAntonio Nieto-Rodriguez is a global champion of project management and author of the Harvard Business Review Project Management Handbook and HBR’s featured article “The Project Economy Has Arrived”, which argues that projects are the lingua franca of the business and personal worlds from the C-suite to managing your careers.

Antonio has served as the global Chairman of the Project Management Institute – arguably the world’s largest training ground of project managers – and he has been recognized as a Fellow of PMI for his contributions to the project management profession. He is a member of the Thinkers50, and he is also part of Marshall Goldsmith 100 coaches.

In his work, Antonio advises senior leaders on prioritizing and implementing strategic initiatives and leading transformational change. He is currently the Sustainability Transformation Program Director at GlaxoSmithKline Vaccines, and he previously worked as Head of Project Portfolio Management at BNP Paribas Fortis, where he led the acquisition of ABN AMBRO. He also worked for ten years at PwC, becoming the global lead practitioner for project and change management.

Antonio is also the author of Lead Successful Projects, The Project Revolution, and The Focused Organization, and he is a visiting professor at six different institutions, including Duke Corporate Education, Instituto de Empresa, Solvay, Vlerick, Ecole des Ponts, and Skolkovo. He has presented at more than 220 conferences worldwide, including the European Business Summit, Strategy Leaders Forum, Gartner Summit, TEDx, and EU Cohesion Policy Conference. Finally, he created the Brightline Initiative, founded Projects & Co, and co-founded the Strategy Implementation Institute.

Antonio was born in Madrid and educated in Germany, Mexico, Italy, and the United States, He has an MBA from London Business School, and Insead’s IDP.


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