New Resources Pt 3- Interview with Samad Aidane

Samad Aidane is a cross-cultural leadership and Project Management Consultant and Coach with over two decades of experience in information technology change initiatives. He is also a featured speaker at Project Management Institute Congresses, local PMI Chapters, and at organizations such as J.P Morgan, HP, and T-Mobile.

Please tell us about your website which is a great resource for the upcoming project managers and why understanding the co-relation between neuro-science and project management/leadership style could be the key to being successful in this profession.

Although we tend to think of project work in terms of tasks, resources, and milestones, the brain experiences projects first and foremost as social systems. The latest research on how the brain works is bringing a fresh perspective on how the brain responds during times of change, uncertainty, and ambiguity and the drivers that create an environment that fosters engagement, collaboration, and commitment.
Neuroscience is the interdisciplinary science of the nervous system that collaborates with other fields such as chemistry, computer science, engineering, linguistics, mathematics, medicine, philosophy, physics, and psychology. The field has seen significant advances in recent years which can be largely attributed to very recent scientific and technological advances, particularly functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, which allows researchers to literally watch the brain in action.

Guerrilla Project Management and Neuro Frontier reflect my interest in this field. The blogs explore core neuroscience of leadership principles that form the foundation for making decisions, solving problems, collaborating with others, and facilitating change. Understanding these core neuroscience principles and drivers of human behavior will help us understand individual capacity to cope with ambiguity, deal with conflict, and find innovative solutions to complex problems.

Why do you think this is a must read for new project managers?Wwhat are the 3 main takeaways from the site?

Through Guerrilla Project Management and Neuro Frontier, new project managers will be able to:

  • Understand the neuroscience of leadership, its latest research findings, and its implications for project managers
  • Gain insights into the effectiveness and benefits of brain-based leadership for Project Managers
  • Learn how to apply these insights in our projects to make effective decisions and solve complex problems, stay cool under pressure, and facilitate lasting change.

One piece of advice that you think is an absolute must for new project managers?

Project are a series of moments of dull but important work interspersed with moments of pure joy and often even euphoria. To sustain ourselves, every project must contribute a body of knowledge to our journey of mastery. This starts with not letting projects happen to us. This means we must get to the point in our career where we get to select the type of projects we work on, the way film directors choose their next film or musicians select their next album project. This power of choice is the secret to making sure every project we touch tells a story about our journey to mastery and contributes to our masterpiece.

Samad Aidane holds a Post Graduate Degree in the Neuroscience of Leadership from Middlesex University, U.K. His research connects the latest findings in brain science research to leadership development and informs the ways leaders can improve their capacity to make effective decisions, solve complex problems, and facilitate lasting change. Samad is certified by the Project Management Institute and a member of the Social & Affective Neuroscience Society.

(Pic courtesy: Samad Aidane)

You can also read Pt 1- Interview with Jeff Furman  and Pt 2- Interview with Elizabeth Harrin.

New Resources Pt 2- Interview with Elizabeth Harrin

Happy New Year to all of you! 

We start this year with another great resource that is sure to bring a  smile. Elizabeth Harrin who also writes the award-winning blog, A Girl’s Guide to Project Management has a newly launched
e-coaching services. She talks about how it can help so many project managers and definitely something that's much easier to access than formal coaching sessions.

So, please tell us about your newly launched course which is a great resource for the upcoming project managers and where can we find it.

I realized that lots of people wanted access to a coach but in a more informal way than scheduled Skype calls or face-to-face meetings. So I thought offering bespoke coaching for particular issues over email would fill the gap. You don't have to have a massive career problem to work out over several months. It's just about tapping an expert for advice, for example when you've got questions about a difficult project and you can't discuss them with someone at work (or you want an external view).

E-coaching is an easy way for you to get access to support and career resources whenever you need it. You don’t have to be tied to a particular time for a phone call and you don’t have to wait until the next session to get some advice. It’s also affordable and manageable, so if you thought you’d never be able to engage the services of a coach, think again!

I don't actually have anything on my website about it yet. You can read about it in one of my newsletters here

Why do you think this is a must have for new project managers? what are the main takeaways from the mentoring sessions that newbies can directly have with you.

I was lucky enough to have a senior project manager assigned to me as a mentor when I started out but that isn't the case for everyone, and even with her help I still had to learn a lot of things the hard way. I wrote Project Management in the Real World because I was frustrated at having to learn everything about project management from scratch. It was the book I wished for when I became a project manager.

A coach can help you unpick problems faster. They can help you work out your own style and help you develop. My style of e-coaching is based on questions and answers over email and clients get a very detailed response, action steps and additional resources for their queries in a reflective style which they can then decide if they apply to their situation. I think this is particularly good for new project managers who don't necessarily have the experience to work out exactly what they need to do by themselves and need a helping hand to offer a few alternative directions.

If you are working in project management or would like to work in projects and need some help sorting out some of the daily problems you face, putting together a career plan for your next job, improving project communications, getting to grips with virtual teams or practically any other project-related problem, then you should consider a coach (whether that's me or someone else).

One piece of advise that you think is an absolute must for new project managers?

Being gracious and appreciative has always worked well for me. When you are a new in post, everyone else knows more than you so it's not easy to assert your authority in a traditional way. A facilitative style actually works better anyway. Take the time to thank the people on the project team for their contributions and make them feel that their work has meaning. You can be very effective while knowing very little if you keep in mind that your job is to make their jobs easier. What do they need to get their tasks done? That's what you have to provide. That and a little structure in the form of a plan and you are well on your way to completing your project successfully with a happy team.

Elizabeth Harrin, MA, FAPM, MBCS is Director of The Otobos Group, a project communications consultancy specialising in copywriting for project management firms. She has a decade of experience in projects. Elizabeth has led a variety of IT and process improvement projects including ERP and communications developments. She is also experienced in managing business change, having spent eight years working in financial services (including two based in Paris, France). Elizabeth is the author of Shortcuts to Success: Project Management in the Real World, Social Media for Project Managers and Customer-Centric Project Management.  You can find Elizabeth online at or on Twitter @pm4girls.

(Pic Courtesy: Elizabeth Harrin)

You can Read Part 1- Interview with Jeff Furman here.