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SCB's President-elect, Tony Lynam, recently took a course with WildTeam on project management. Read about his experience below.
As a mid-career professional, you have a lot of practical experience. What prompted you to take a course on project management?
In my training as an ecologist I never had classes in project management but this is a very important set of skills to have. Any time you raise funds for a conservation project it has to be effectively managed, executed and reported on. I took the course to learn some new skills that could help me with my work that involves multiple projects ranging in size from small site-based initiatives to global technology projects. I also wanted to find out about WildTeam courses so I could share the experience with other SCB members.
How can you relate or apply the course on project management to the projects you're involved in at WCS?
WildTeam have designed a course that teaches skills that one might normally be taught in a business school, and adapts them for use by conservation practitioners. The focus is on how projects can have measurable impact within a defined schedule and budget, and of course this goal applies to any project!
How do project management skills make you a more valuable employee and more effective in your job in conservation?
The principles for project management are simple and apply to any project; do something, focus on impact, know who does what, ensure the project can adapt to changing conditions, and ensure your approach is adapted to suit the scale, complexity, importance, and risk level. It makes sense that sticking to these principles should help me to be more valuable to my work team, and more effective in doing conservation.
What is your greatest take-away from the project management course?
This course has brought together 61 conservationists and each one has their own experiences from study and research, volunteering or conservation practice to share with the group. The common ground is that we can all recount projects that failed due to a lack of adequate planning or execution. Conversely we can all benefit from applying the PMWC approach with its standardized components. Through signing up for the training, I have also joined WildHub which is a place for conservationists to meet, share experiences, look for jobs and training opportunities. This is a cool idea especially for students and early career conservationists but also for mid career people like me.
Where do you see the greatest need for project management skills in the conservation sector?
The PMWC approach applies widely across the conservation sector and is applicable to any project large or small. We need to be more effective at managing a short term Masters conservation study at one site just as we are a global project to save an endangered species like tigers or elephants.