When Mark Phillipy, The Sensible Project Manager, approached me for this new #PMFlashblog I was of course willing to respond positively.
But, even more so when I learned that the subject would be to write about the state of project management in “my” part of the world. This will allow me to highlight the part of the world from where I practice project management since close to 20 years !
What’s so specific about Project Management in Sophia Antipolis ?
- International environment
- Rich PM ecosystem and great PM Community
- Variety of companies and industries
- Sunshine !
1. International Environment
Sophia Antipolis is a technology park northwest of Antibes and southwest of Nice, France. Today, the park is home to 1,335 companies who employ 31,500 people representing 63 different nationalities, alongside 4500 researchers and 5500 students. Sophia Antipolis extraordinary human capital and vibrant professional networks promote synergy and cross-fertilization between the different fields of science and technology. The many training and higher education institutions further reinforce synergy between academic research and business, creating a reservoir of managers, engineers and highly-skilled developers. While having always been based in the south of France, I’ve had the chance to work exclusively in International companies and lead several “global reach” programmes. It meant a lot of travel and use of the latest technologies in terms of communications to manage geographically distributed teams. The same applies to a lot of PMs in Sophia Antipolis. These are truly growth and motivating factors for all of us.
We’re often managing projects more "from" Sophia Antipolis than "in" Sophia Antipolis as their scope spans way beyond the business park!
2. Rich Project Management Ecosystem and great PM Community
Early on, the plethora of international companies growing in the region started to train their engineer to project management techniques and behaviors. When I obtained my PMP® certification in 1998, the exam I attended regrouped PMs from Texas Instruments, NCR, IBM, AT&T, HP and several other companies. Soon after our certification, realizing that we all had a lot to gain from sharing best practices amongst the local Project Management community, we created a nonprofit association that became a couple of years later the Project Management Institute France-Sud Chapter. This chapter organizes forums every month where local PMs meet and exchange on different aspects of our profession. The PMI France-Sud chapter grew to over 800 people over the past 15 years to become the largest French chapter at the time of the unification of all PMI chapters in France last fall. Nowadays, PMI France is the largest PMI Chapter outside USA. Taking a very active role in the chapter and even presiding it for a few years was a great experience. It allowed me to meet many very interesting people, to organize numerous events in the region, to participate and present at several PMI Global Conferences…
The variety of industries in IT, telecoms, biotechnologies, R&D, travel… enriches largely our debates and opens our eyes to techniques used in other businesses.
3. Variety of companies and industries
Created in 1970-1984, Sophia-Antipolis houses primarily companies in the fields of computing, electronics, pharmacology, travel and biotechnology. Several institutions of higher education are also located here, along with the European headquarters of W3C and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute. As you can guess, the mix of business experiences, backgrounds and nationalities provides a very fertile ground for all PMs to grow their competencies. Most of us work in very international environments where the working language is English and a great number lead projects where a significant part or all of their teams happen to be remote. While this is particularly challenging, it also benefits us as we develop key PM skills such as communications, delegation, virtual team management, multi-cultural awareness… And, also run across different methodologies: PMI, Prince2, IPMA, Agile…
4. Sunshine !
Located 20 km from the Nice international airport, the Sophia Antipolis Business and Research Park is an exceptional site that spreads across 2400 hectares, ideally balanced between the sea and the mountains. Two thirds of the science and technology park are given over to green spaces where employees can enjoy running, walking, swimming, tennis and golf to relax and replenish their energy levels. I’m personally a runner and I see a lot of my PM colleagues release some of their stress doing sports several times a week at lunch time. This sunshine boots your vitamin D which is key to positive thinking and we definitely need that in project management !
Fellow PM colleagues working in Sophia Antipolis, please do not hesitate to comment and add to this blog post.