Our Crisis Talks series explores how project managers are adapting and pivoting to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this episode, Emma De Vita (editor of APM’s Project journal) speaks to Sonia Sharma, head of planning and corporate PMO at Channel 4. Sonia explains the challenges of working within an organisation of low project management maturity, where staff are sometimes resistant to the structures and governance she is trying to implement.

Prior to lockdown, Sonia had been working on building up the enterprise PMO, while in February Channel 4 had kick-started a significant transformation programme. When COVID-19 hit, the organisation experienced a “chaotic” few weeks, with staff unsure how to react. The wider picture for the broadcaster looked challenging, with major events such as the Paralympics postponed, leaving Channel 4 facing a revenue hit and the task of rescheduling through the summer.

After a difficult few weeks, Sonia found that staff managed to adapt effectively to new ways of working. She relates how her team approached the prioritisation of their portfolio, a shift in the pace of work, the challenges of a virtual workforce, and more. Through the crisis, Sonia has kept a focus on achieving a lean state and maintaining it at the broadcaster, with senior executives growing in their awareness of the importance of project management.

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