Is the PMO Becoming Obsolete? with David Zweier, Ep #14

In this episode of Tech Talent Today, I’m delighted to be joined by David Zweier, Vice President of the Enterprise Program Management Office at Selective Insurance. David has over 20 years of experience in engineering and management, delivering business value across several industries such as defense, financial services, consulting, publishing, and insurance. I invited David to the podcast because of an intriguing post he made about the common misperception that project management will become obsolete. Listen to learn more!

You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in…

  • Changes in business frameworks [03:39]
  • Effective risk management governance [07:24]
  • Interviewing for soft skills [09:30]
  • Rebecca’s Homestead [11:34]
  • Employee retention through relationships [14:42]
  • David’s career journey [21:03]
  • Diversity and inclusion at Selective [24:19]

What is Selective Insurance?

Selective Insurance is a 96-year-old property and casualty insurance company based in northwest New Jersey. Selective’s distribution is exclusively through an elite group of independent agents who provide tailored coverage. The supportive culture at Selective has kept David with the company for many years. Employees are encouraged to be authentic and true to themselves, so they feel valued and develop meaningful relationships.

One great benefit Selective Insurance provides for its employees is that each year, every employee has one volunteer day they can use that doesn’t count towards their paid time off. The PMO team coordinates and spends a whole day working with the local non-profit organization Rebecca’s Homestead, which provides resources for differently abled adults. Supporting volunteer work is just one way Selective is generous to non-profit donations and contributions to local communities.

Interviewing effectively

When searching for a project manager, a candidate’s soft skills are just as important as understanding the science, processes, and procedures of project management. Selective Insurance looks for people who are more entrepreneurial in spirit and bring different types of competencies forward to succeed. Strong business acumen and a focus on the customer are as important as deep technical project management knowledge.

Interviewing for soft skills isn’t easy. In interviews, David asks about previous work or volunteer experience unrelated to project management to encourage candidates to open up. This process provides insight into what they are passionate about and how they think and communicate. Early in his career, David asked this question of a candidate. This candidate shared his experience as a young employee in a video game store, where he became the top salesperson, despite being so young. He shared his tactics and how he established relationships with the customers as they came in. That sort of storytelling and approach to people is an indication of how the candidate is going to work long-term.

Project management of the future

Organizations are moving from projects to products, changing their methodologies from waterfall to agile. There’s no specific role for the Project Manager in these new frameworks. Some assume that project management is no longer required for success or to achieve that business agility everyone is looking for in the business age. However, the opposite is true. The PMO value proposition is changing with the move to digital, and project managers can play an even more strategic role than they do today.

Traditionally, project management’s role was managing and developing detailed project plans and understanding cost, schedule, and quality. While these are still significant aspects, project managers can now help drive efforts such as effective governance, benefits realization management, risk management, developing capability-driven roadmaps, and being an investment store for the organization. These capabilities with the evolving value proposition are ways the PM can play a much more strategic role in the organization than traditional project management.

Having PMs understand the business well is the most important part of being successful in terms of managing benefit realization. #Business #Success Click To Tweet

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with David Zweier

Connect With Jodi Kulek Mayer

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