PMO Conference Agenda

The PMO Conference 2021

Bringing Together PMO Practitioners

Inspirational PMO sessions

Book Your Place Today

Passionate About PMO

The PMO Conference takes place on the 3rd November 2021 and hosts a wide variety of expert PMO speakers. This year our keynotes include the NHS PMO team behind the COVID-19 vaccination roll out, acclaimed author, Ian Leslie, and an interactive workshop with People Deliver Projects.

On this page, you can find the synopsis of each session and biography for all our speakers. Just click to download the Agenda – At a Glance.

Opening Keynote

Mark Angus

Deputy PMO Leadership & Oversight Lead

Liz Howarth

PMO Director Covid -19 Vaccines Deployment Programme

COVID-19 Vaccination Deployment Programme – The Central PMO Story

Perhaps one of the hardest working PMO teams of the last 18 months, we kick off the PMO Conference 2021 with an inspirational story. How did the PMO manage to come together to build the wings whilst the plane was flying to support the delivery of the first vaccination in December 2020 and the subsequent millions of vaccinations since.

What were the priorities; what were the challenges and the triumphs? What was the technical response of the PMO and how did they support the people and cultural side of such a high profile deployment. How did they fair personally and emotionally – keeping pace with the ups and downs – and what do they think about their part in such an historical event.

We hear from two of the central PMO team from the COVID-19 Vaccination Deployment Programme.

Session 1 – 10.05am to 11.00am

Donna Wayman

Leading Change Portfolio Management at Zurich Insurance Company Ltd

A Perfect Pairing – PMO and Portfolio?

Cheese and port, Batman and Robin, sweet and salty, gin and tonic. Is the combination of PMO and Portfolio in one function a perfect pairing?

An overview of the PMO journey at Zurich , starting a month before Covid hit with a new team combining PMO and Portfolio functions, with a brand new expanded remit.

This session will cover services, practice and people outlining the journey they took to discover the best way to bring these pairings together.

The session includes the redesign of the PMO services to cover a broader remit of change, the launch of a new assurance frame work and navigating building a team virtually in the middle of a pandemic and what has been learnt from that in the longer-term.

The PMO’s Guide to Stakeholder Engagification: How to Get People To Take Action on Projects

We’ve moved away from stakeholder management as a concept, and now the practitioner’s focus should be on stakeholder engagement.

This presentation will look at the differences between management and engagement in a project-led environment, and provide practical tips for “doing” engagement and encouraging participation through game mechanics.

Gamification gets people to take action through the techniques and mechanics of games.

We’ll look at the 5 principles of using engagement + gamification that can be used in your Project Office to support stakeholders’ engagement with project work.

1. Track your steps
2. Take small actions
3. Create feedback loops
4. Keep it simple
5. Make it special

These principles encourage participation and make it easy and fun for people to want to work with us.

Elizabeth Harrin

Author, Trainer, Speaker

Roy Millard

P3 Risk and Assurance

Professionalising Project Assurance – The Role of the PMO.

Having the right, high quality, project assurance to the right people at the right time has never been so important.

There’s greater intolerance of project delays and failures; greater scrutiny of value for money; and greater expectations for benefits to be delivered.

No longer can assurance provision be just an add-on to projects. It’s not just a nice-to-have. It’s becoming an essential component of project delivery. When things go wrong, people ask: “where was the assurance to stop that happening?”

How will assurance providers meet this need? What will be the role of the PMO in that?

The aim of this talk is to consider what needs to happen to turn what has been a traditionally ad-hoc approach to assurance provision into a something more robust, higher-profile, impactful? How do we ‘professionalise’ project assurance?

Project and Programme Management: Understanding the Challenges, Delivering your Vision and Getting it Right

Project and Programme Management offices are a vital part of a delivery focused organisation.  PMO’s need to work with delivery teams to support new delivery methods and ensure the smooth running of the business for all stakeholders, but what is the key to successful project delivery?

Over time, key pieces of the process that are vital to the smooth running of your Project Management may often get left behind, forgotten or worse, they become the opposite of what was intended.  This can lead to your processes hampering, rather than assisting, the smooth running of the delivery engine.

Join Derek Strachan as he explains the key challenges your project delivery will encounter, and how to implement your vision and get it right.

Derek Strachan

Director of Business Consulting at CPS

Matthew Milsom

PMO Consultant and Lodger

Agile PMO Coffee

In this interactive breakout session, we’re aiming to get delegates into the room that are interested in talking everything agile – that could be getting to grips with aspects of agile delivery; supporting hybrid delivery approaches or even the PMO becoming more agile.

We take the Agile Coffee concept – the ability to gather together the questions that are most on our minds; take a group vote and then get talking. The group then decide when to move on to a new question or keep discussing.

Facilitated by Matt Milsom, the session takes about 25 delegates in the room, so if you’ve got a burning question you want to put to the crowd, join us in the Lodger Room.

Session 2 – 11:30am to 12.30pm

Carol Hindley

Head of Digital PMO, Parliamentary Digital Service

Catherine Hallett

Director, IHSE Portfolio Management Office, In House Services and Estates

Gavin Woods

Head of EPMO, Houses of Parliament

Improving Parliament’s PMO capability

Hear from the Houses of Parliament, the centre of government and politics in the UK,  about their experience of adopting the House of PMO – PMO Competency Framework.

Imagine taking over a PMO where every member has a personal objective to get out of the PMO!  That was exactly the situation encountered in 2016.

Hear how the various PMOs in Parliament (we have several!) have shared the love for PMO; how they have built up happy, healthy, high performing teams and how they have rooted PMO as a fulfilling career at Parliament (and further afield).

We hear from the PMO practitioners that lead the various PMOs within Parliament as they share their insights on the journey over the last five years. We’ll hear about the highs and lows, the things that made a difference to how their PMOs perform and ultimately how they support one of the most iconic institutes in the UK.

Making Workshops Work (even when they are stressful)

As PMO practitioners, we face the challenge of running really effective workshops in what are often very stressful situations: with demanding participants, bad news to share, challenging groups each with their own agenda, very senior leaders and more. On top of all of this, we need to collaborate creatively whether our workshop is virtual, in-person or hybrid.

You don’t need me to tell you that this is stressful, but all too often stress makes us less effective at facilitation. This session will explore the effects of stress on workshop leaders and how to counteract it to make your workshops work.

Penny Pullan

Making Projects Work

Ross Garland

Project Governance and Project Assurance Expert

Why Governance is Important to the PMO?

We all know that effective governance is a key factor in project and programme success. But what exactly is it, what does it look like and why is it important to a PMO?

This presentation provides a practical approach to governance in projects, programmes and portfolios (P3G).

While theoretical approaches to governance are important, it can be difficult to transition from the theoretical and strategic to the point of “this is what I need to do next”. We are all practitioners, so we need to know how to practice.

This presentation proceeds from a practitioner’s definition of governance. It explains the importance of P3G from a PMO perspective and discusses the principles that underpin effective governance. And it shows how you can use these principles to build a governance framework for a project, programme or portfolio. We discuss the benefits of getting governance right and, finally, your actions when you leave this room.

Pushing Resource Management Up the Slope of Enlightenment: A Change Centered Approach

Gartner’s Strategic Portfolio management 2021 hype cycle put resource management just at the cusp of entering the Slope of Enlightenment. Given that organizations have been actively doing resource management for decades, we have to ask what will it take to finally move up the curve?

This presentation will explore how a new, more people-oriented resource management maturity model can be used to get organizational acceptance of resource management as a vital discipline for executing strategy. A must watch session for people still using excel or having difficulty with their current system of resource planning.

Greg Bailey

Vice President, ProSymmetry

Lain Burgos-Lovece

PMO Consultant and Lodger

Escape from Admin-Compliance Island

In this open space session, Lain facilitates the group in finding the answers that help you deliver value to your organisation and feel like a rock star PMO!

For many PMO managers, the focus on Admin services and compliance with methodology absorb a significant amount of time. It is isolating from those who are seeing as creating value, and is a drag on efforts to do something more valuable

As a PMO, you can go from being seen as an overhead to being a trusted delivery partner within your organisation.

Areas to explore include how stakeholders see us, methodology pros and cons, and those superpowers many PMOs could do with.

The outcome will be an understanding of what it takes to be recognised as valuable by the organisation and how to start putting Admin/Compliance in its place so that real work can get done.

This is an opportunity to join an interactive, workshop-style session to explore key themes together and take away personal action plans.


Step up – Powering up the PMO Service by Overcoming Hierarchical Barriers

PMOs are often left in a value quandary.  Needed by senior management to help better decision making, but left just to provide no more than reports and data.  Needed by project managers for resource and support, but treated as just a lowly ‘extra pair of hands’.  As the PMO we are there to make a real difference, but how can we if our stakeholders don’t give us that opportunity?  And the big question for us to own… do we bring that upon ourselves by the way we behave? And do we collude with the hierarchical behaviour of our more senior stakeholders?

At this workshop we will unpick this problem, looking at how different PMO conversations can build stronger engagement and more valued relationships.  Ultimately, to step up to the next level, we need the business to want our PMO services.

At this session, we won’t just talk about PMO relationships, you will watch them in action, in a scenario played out by professional actors, with audience interaction from where you sit.  There will be debate, laughter, and serious learning.  No one will be bored, we promise.

Session 3 – 2.35pm – 3:20pm

Kirsty Bennett

Virgin Atlantic

Suzy Wardle

Virgin Atlantic

The Art of the Possible Revisited

Back in January we heard from Virgin Atlantic – a business heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic – with 9 out of every 10 flights grounded during the first lockdown and a 50% reduction in the workforce the impact was devastating.

We’re delighted to have Kirsty Bennett back again. Kirsty is the Vice President of Transformation at Virgin Atlantic and she will be joined by Suzy Wardle Head of ePMO to update on the story of how an effective PMO can really make the difference when the business strategy changes from growth to survival and back to growth.

The session will cover:

• A brief recap on the art of the possible from last time
• Lessons learned and improvements made one year on
• How we capture and model demand
• How we determine value – our value frameworks
• How we capture and track benefits
• Future plans for the next 3 years

All bought to life with a demo of how we surface our reporting data live to the enterprise.

Join us as we learn from Kirsty & Suzy’s lessons and insights – an inspiration for any PMO wanting to make a real difference when it matters the most.

An Award Winning PMO: One PMO

The last 6 years Chris and Dawn have spent working together to implement a blended PMO service. Staff and industry working together to deliver an enterprise wide PMO service. Not just a service, but a seamless one; our slogan being One PMO!  Once established along came Transformation of our PMO; how do we modernise and become even more efficient?  Very challenging and tricky to get right.  In fact, in some cases they didn’t; but they did learn along the way. Then the added challenge of CV19 and distributed working, against the organisation and industry partner challenges. A rollercoaster ride!

Chris and Dawn’s PMO won the PMO of the Year Award in 2019, it’s only now, post-pandemic that we get to hear the story of their journey.



Nicola Young

Project Practitioner, Department for Work and Pensions

Applying Academic Findings to PMO Ways of Working: A Practitioner’s View

The session will convert the past eight years of research findings into practical steps for PMO professionals. Nicola will demonstrate, through the building of a conceptual model, how academic theory and practitioner experience can be brought together to develop an effective governance framework and approach.

By combining theory and practice, she will show how the PMO team can secure buy-in to governance through good stakeholder engagement and clear communications.

The session will also explore how critical supportive, capable leadership sitting outside of the project is in ensuring project success and provide some ideas for developing these relationships.

Throughout the presentation, Nicola will discuss the research approach, the techniques and methods used to gather data, the personal benefits gained from the ongoing challenge, including how she has applied and disseminated the findings in her day-to-day work. Nicola will also share how she balanced academic studies with a full-time project delivery role for those interested in pursuing further and higher education.

Power Up Your PMO with Microsoft Cloud

Is your PMO still caught up with disconnected spreadsheets, inefficient manual processes, and Power Point reporting? Are you struggling to unlock budget to address your collaboration and reporting challenges with appropriate tools?

If your organisation has declared a ‘Microsoft Cloud First’ strategy, then you have a great opportunity to harness for PPM those Microsoft services that will drive the digital transformation of your entire organisation – rather than deploying non-strategic 3rd party PPM tools.

Why not benefit from world-beating collaboration, integration, automation, and business intelligence features that are at your fingertips – in the platform that your team logs into every day already.

This presentation will give you a whirlwind tour of services in Microsoft’s Power Platform and explain how you can combine those with collaboration and work management tools such as Teams, Project and Planner to transform your PMO.

Do more with the platform you already own – make it the foundation of your data driven PMO! 

Gero Renker

Co-Founder, Program Framework

Zoe O’Toole

PMO Consultant and Lodger

PMO Minutes – An Interactive Breakout

We are part way through the PMO Conference and if you’re looking for something different – an energising breakout session where you can help drive the conversation – join us for PMO Minutes.

This is the chance to reflect on what you’ve heard and seen so far – perhaps you have an insight or question you’d like to share with your PMO peers?

In this completely interactive session, we get into the practical lessons and observations made in everyday PMO life. This is your opportunity to bring a question or insight to the group, for example:

  • How do you explain beneficiaries and recipients to non-PMs
  • PowerPoint tricks of the trade for effective reports
  • Why don’t people like to update RAIDS logs
  • Why Assumptions matter

To give as many people a chance of being involved as possible, delegates have a maximum of 60 seconds to make their point, share their view or ask a question. 60 seconds might not be much time for some people but for others will feel like an hour. This is a chance to take the plunge.

This is a facilitated conversation-based session, giving people the opportunity to air their thoughts in a safe, smaller environment. After five minutes we’re ready to move on to another topic.

Session 4 – 3:50pm – 4:40pm

Eileen Roden

Founder, House of PMO

Does your PMO offer Support or Services?

How do you describe what your PMO does?

Many people still object to the PMO being seen as a support service; others don’t like to be restricted by a defined set of services within a Service Catalogue.

During this session, we’ll look at the two different approaches, the pros and cons of each, and in which contexts they are most effective.

Success Factors to Implementing PPM Systems and Automation in a PMO

Maybe you are considering how to automate your PMO or how you can further enhance the PMO function to make the best use of technology. In this session David will share his experience from the last 7 years of implementing and managing PPM systems for GSK’s complex global change programmes.

These hard-won learnings are applicable to all sizes of PMOs wanting to drive insight and efficiency by making the best use of technology. There are many things to watch out for on this journey. Remember it’s not about using latest tech or having the fanciest dashboards; it’s about how we apply the technology correctly to the challenges in front of us.

This session will talk less about the available technology itself but look to address pitfalls we face and principles that can guide us to a successful outcome.

David Mitchell

Planning and Controls Lead, GSK

Dr James Smith

CTO, Projecting Success

Next Generation PMO – AI and the PMO

According to Oxford business school only 1 in 200 projects are delivered on time, on budget and on benefits. This statistic has been relatively static for the last 20 years and data is the only way to move the dial.

Data is everywhere but we still don’t know exactly how to utilise it correctly; storage, collection, cleaning, trust, validation, etc. are all issues that organisations are facing every day.

In this session James will demonstrate what large organisations are doing with data analytics, AI, process automation and apps in the fight to deliver the next generation PMO.

T-Mobile – Tips & Tricks for Portfolio Management

Increase value for our T-Mobile customers and to support company strategy through waterfall/ agile governance, portfolio project management, cross company prioritization, tools and Agile Transformation.

Lucie Rychtarova

Portfolio Manager in T-Mobile /
Slovak Telekom and
Vice President of PMI

Sarah Roach

PMO Consultant and Lodger

Handy Tips to Get You Through the Challenging Bits

You’ve had a busy day at the conference and it’s coming to an end. This interactive session is a perfect place to drop into, take a breather and spend some time thinking about how you can manage your work (and life!) better.

Join our lodger for a session focused on what stress is, what resilience is, and some handy hints to try and manage it. The session ends with a guided meditation.

Facilitated by Sarah Roach, a trainer with the Happiness Club, the session takes about 25 delegates in the room, so if you’re looking for something a little different, a change of pace, join us in the Lodger Room.

Closing Keynote

Ian Leslie

Writer and Journalist

Conflicted – The Power of Productive Disagreements

In our closing keynote we welcome Ian Leslie,  author of acclaimed books on human behaviour, described by Malcolm Gladwell as “one of my favourite writers”. Ian’s latest book, Conflicted, is about the power of productive disagreement.

Working within a PMO, supporting portfolios, programmes and projects, our work thrives on interactions with peers, managers, senior executives, customers and a wide range of stakeholders. None of us will be unfamiliar with conflict in our daily working lives, projects by their very nature are all about solving problems, working at fast pace, dealing with dependencies, agendas and internal politics – all hotbed areas for disagreements.

In this session, Ian finishes our day with a thought-provoking, different perspective on disagreements in the workplace – and how we can all benefit from productive conflict.