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The University of Southampton
Southampton Business SchoolPostgraduate study

Pedro Gonzalez MSc Project Management2018

Pedro Gonzalez's Photo

After this experience, I am not afraid of any challenge that the business world can pose, as I have learnt how to manage them.

What are your reflections on the programme?

As I handed in my dissertation, I realised that my masters programme was just getting started, perhaps that’s the way it was designed to be. I did not fully understand the idea of individual learning at the beginning of the programme and I even questioned it. However, it is clear now the immense value it has.

The main skills that I have developed are self-reflection and disciplined thinking to approach topics. The ability of taking an idea, posing questions, approaching it in a structured manner and producing original thoughts is of immense value. After this experience, I am not afraid of any challenge that the business world can pose, as I have learnt how to manage them.

This year, with all the experiences it brought, has prepared me to face the rest of my life. Of course the process has been difficult, as it should be. Growing hurts, but if you stick to the process, the results are always waiting on the other side.

What are your thoughts on how the programme prepares you for real-life project management?

A former boss once told me: “Project management does not work, the theory of project management doesn’t apply in the real world, do not waste your time pursuing a masters degree in that subject". Of course, he was thinking of traditional project management, the approach that has failed to deliver efficient projects and benefits to stakeholders. I agree with him in that a masters degree on traditional project management is not worth pursuing.

However, that’s not what the MSc Project Management programme at Southampton is about. Project management is about much more than meeting time, cost and quality constraints. It’s about an organisational capability that allows implementing strategy and change and delivering products that are aligned with the overall business objectives of the organisation. It has to do with strategy, with structuring problems in a way that generates a common understanding among stakeholders, decision-making to make the right trade-offs within and between projects. It has to do with management of uncertainties, but most importantly, it’s about people and getting the best out of all the stakeholders involved and out of the project.

MSc Project Management teaches useful management tools that allow the understanding of the big picture. It essentially provides a toolkit that should be applied in a contingent basis, understanding the context of the project.

Project management and project failure has been widely reported in the literature. However, organisations insist in managing projects the same way. They think project performance will improve if they adjust or change the methodology or if they get more training. Although these efforts might help, what is needed is a change in the understanding of what projects are, and their purpose. A new view on projects and how they fit within organisations is what is taught at Southampton.

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