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A catalyst for regional development

Source: PSE Feb/Mar 17

Sandra Booth, Pro-Vice Chancellor at University of Cumbria, considers the challenges and opportunities for the project management (PM) profession to deliver lasting transformational change in regional economic development and local engagement.

Cumbria LEP’s vision is simple: to create one of the fastest growing economies in the UK. This vision includes £25bn private sector investment in capital programmes, including nuclear new build and infrastructure improvements over the next 10 years. 

To achieve this ambition requires leadership and critical thinking. PM professionals delivering on these programmes are at the vanguard of transformational change affecting the region, communities and supply chains beyond the lifespan of individual projects. The PM profession is at a critical juncture, requiring collaboration across organisational boundaries and a hardwiring of statutory, commercial and social responsibilities to build sustainable economic development and to demonstrate lasting impact. 


The Project Academy for Sellafield is delivering the expansion of world-class PM professionals engaged in complex world-leading projects to create a centre of excellence and a focal point for PM. 

The Academy supports the advancement and transformation of project communities through applied education, developing talented and experienced project managers at scale who will optimise operational performance and generate tangible outcomes for their businesses and beyond. This benefits the whole region by increasing skills across all areas of PM, from entry to executive level. 

Transformational PM takes careers seriously, establishing career pathways, developing a talent pipeline, attracting workforce to the area with a visible growth plan that promotes excellence and builds credibility with business leaders and investors. 


Next generation PM training spans boundaries to intensify efficiency in commercial, non-profit and public sectors. Training is multidisciplinary, supporting mobility and flexibility in the industry – people transfer across disciplines, locations and organisations resulting in a skilled and diverse workforce, developing repeatable PM practices to enhance the resulting effectiveness of projects. 

PM training includes reflective practice and critical enquiry, identifies common principles and facilitates communities of practice to promote and provide project managers with a forum to share expertise, drawing upon networks to solve PM problems and gain confidence to challenge conventional wisdom. Project managers work as a collective to share and address regional dynamics. 


PM training integrates corporate social responsibility into PM with a focus on benefits realisation for people, planet and profit. PM is a career of choice and has become an aspirational vocation, attracting those who are intrinsically motivated and values-driven. Whilst there may be a temporary nature to projects, PMs want to make a difference and to contribute a lasting legacy to the profession and to regions. 

Integrating ambitions across complex projects with different objectives and timelines to deliver common frameworks for multiplier effects for regional transformation is the next PM challenge. The commercial PM community working in partnership with PM agents of economic development embed and cultivate quality projects in line with growth strategies of host regions to achieve shared deliverables of widespread prosperity, inclusive growth, local procurement and stakeholder benefits anchored locally with demonstrable and measurable social value. 

Place leadership requires interconnectedness to deliver more localised, regional economies, rebalanced, resilient and less buffeted by outside forces. Regions must demand a joined-up, assertive response and a call to arms to the PM community. 

Who better than the PM community to drive regional economic development, leverage inward investment and infrastructure programmes, co-ordinate employment and training relevant to local requirements and address housing, health, social care and education issues? PMs acting as ‘place leaders’ can regenerate localities, catalysing action, resources and community response.

For more information

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