If you’re looking for an engaging and enjoyable listen, check out PCS Principal Project Controls Trainer Michelle Banner on Project Chatter, a podcast that focuses on all facets of project management and project delivery. In Episode 109, Banner is featured alongside her former apprentice, Johnny Shepherd, where they discuss all things early careers in Project Controls. Banner emphasizes that apprenticeships in Project Controls “not only go a long way to reducing the skills gap but provide a clear career pathway for individuals.”  Some highlights of the interview include:

  • Praising the ‘earn while you learn’ aspect of the apprenticeship program, Banner notes how quickly apprentices “pick up the tools aspect of the job – estimating, planning, risk assessment, operations maintenance” but notes the importance of cultivating expertise in “communication and relationship-building.”
  • When asked whether enough is done to equip new project controls professionals with a foundation of ‘soft skills’, Banner contends that “how to communicate effectively can be taught,” and that it’s crucial for new project controllers to have a trusted mentor that they can ask, ‘how do I handle this?’ and feel safe that they can “fail and not be berated.”
  • On how to teach prioritization: Banner explains that one of the most important skills is learning to know when your plate is full. “It’s okay to say, ‘I can’t do this right now,’” says Banner, and schedule the work for a more opportune time.
  • On presenting to management: “Storytelling is incredibly important,” says Banner. Even displaying data can be viewed as “taking someone on a journey.”
  • Regarding barriers to entry in the field, Banner mentioned the need to go into schools and not just promote the science and engineering side of STEM, but the vast opportunities in project management and project controls. According to Banner, one way to address the project management/project controls skills gap is through publicizing the profession to students “as young as primary school.”
  • As for what skills you need to succeed in project controls? Banner: “The ability to communicate, take initiative, and learn by failing.”

In other PCS news, on March 10th Global Director of Training at Project Controls Solutions, Christine McLean, presented on Resilience in Leadership to IFATE (Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education) where the UK Education Secretary was in attendance. She focused on emotional intelligence, adaptability, and resilience. Later in March, McLean will share her insight with the Department of Education in London for a discussion attended by small and medium-sized employers around the UK apprentice system. These businesses play a vital role in economic growth and are significant recruiters of apprentices which lead to sustainable jobs in areas of deprivation. McLean’s participation in the event helps support the PCS social impact mission of expanding economic opportunity by providing meaningful work, dignity, and improved quality of life to people no matter where they live or who they are.