Project managers face ethical challenge

Chandran Nair delivered the keynote address at the PMI Global Congress in March 2007 in Hong Kong.

More than 400 project, programme and portfolio managers were challenged to take a stand on ethical, political and environment issues by Chandran Nair, founder and chief executive of GIFT, in his keynote address at their annual congress.

The PMI Global Congress 2007 -- Asia Pacific was held in Hong Kong, at the heart of the Asia Pacific, which Project Management Institute chief executive Gregory Balestrero said was “home to some of the world’s most exciting projects … [and] Forbes Asia magazine is reporting on the short supply of qualified project managers in India and China”.

Mr Nair threw down the gauntlet in his keynote address: “What I am going to say is sure to make you think, worry and be angry,” he said. “I will draw a broad canvas of what is happening in the region, and you will see if it is relevant to you.”

A short report drawn from the PMI’s publication, PMI Today, which reported on the global congress, follows:

“Mr Nair then painted a picture of how globalisation is affecting the poor in Asia, who represent 75 per cent of those in the world living in poverty. He compared what it would cost to provide basic health care in the region – $13 billion (US) – with what is spent on business entertainment in Japan ($35 billion) or alcohol consumption in Europe ($105 billion).

“ ‘One billion people do not have safe drinking water in Asia and 1.5 billion do not have access to basic sanitation facilities, yet many have mobile phones,’ he said, warning that giving poor people access to information could be a douboe-edged sword.

“Urging project managers to support change through sustainable development, Mr Nair said making affordable products for the poor is a marketable opportunity. To make a difference, he said, changes will be required in resource exploitation, as ‘there is not enough to go around, and most people will not obtain what they are promised.’

“For project managers, there is a risk of being disconnected from the world they are involved in changing.

“‘You are trained to manage complexity,’ said Mr Nair. ‘Good project management can make a real difference. Don’t shy away from responsibility and opportunity. Take a stand on ethical, political and environmental issues.’”

[Extract from PMI Today, March 2007, a supplement to PM Network.]