Project management and leadership as key tools for digital transformation. Interview with Marisa Ciarlo

Marisa is an alumna of the renowned LUISS Guido Carli University in Rome. After graduating in Economics and Management she has served as a project manager in major consulting firms and in the public sector. She also authored several publications and textbooks in economics and leadership.

Which is the importance of project management in governing the digital transformation?

If they want to govern effectively the digital transformation, project managers have to adapt their approaches in order to deal with a more and more competitive industry. As a matter of fact, technological progress has given birth to an abundance of new tools with the aim of facilitating planning and control in project management.

However, despite the rise of disruptive technologies, project management encompasses complex and delicate activities that cannot (and never will) be managed by a software, such as interactions with stakeholders, communication and dissemination of project results. These are activities that require strategy, speed and above all a good leadership.

Let’s talk about your vision of leadership.

Amongst the many definitions of leadership, I agree with Daniel Goleman, who defines it as the ability to influence people and help them to work better in order to reach a common goal.

Developing a good leadership is all but straightforward, and you may wonder whether people are born or become leaders. To this question I answer that both options are indeed true: that is, the good fortune to be endowed with natural gifts, or to be bred in a conducive familiar and social context, is a plus; but at the same time I believe that leadership skills can be acquired and increased during our personal and professional journey.

Following a specific training path, developing our education, getting out of the comfort zone, cultivating a pragmatic, problem-solving-oriented attitude, and above all helping people in the broadest meaning of the word, definitely increases our chances to develop a leadership habit. According to my personal experience, a good leader is a woman or a man who is recognized as such by others, who feel involved, motivated, and even captivated by those who are able to convey their passion.

Do you believe in lifelong learning?

According to commonly accepted tenets, the general objective of lifelong learning is to contribute to the development of our own community, which is an advanced knowledge-based society and requires a sustainable economic development, more and more skilled jobs and greater social cohesion, while guaranteeing a valid environmental protection for future generations. Indeed, I think that our society has made many steps forward: nowadays everyone has the opportunity to study, choose her profession, set her goals, and create the right opportunities to reach them.

The social context we live in provides us with many “socially enabling” tools and, unlike in the past, we exercise a much greater control in developing our fate. Yet this is only possible if we commit to a self-improvement path, increase our skills and knowledge, define our goals, are prepared to giving back and, most importantly, never stop learning. The bottom line is that I firmly believe in lifelong learning, but I also believe that this approach is part of a more general positive attitude towards ourselves and the society we are part of.

Which educational and professional path would you advocate?

The learning process must be considered an integral part of our entire life and it is for this exact reason that the habit of continuous learning must be encouraged from the very first years of life. Those who decide to quit school and training too early may face a prolonged and premature exclusion from a system of knowledge-based opportunities.

It is imperative to cultivate the potential of individuals, if we want to create the proper conditions for those who decide to plan a new and effective path in their private and professional sphere. Self-confidence, but above all the development and “upgrading” of professional skills, will make the difference. Such a vision requires the careful design of a large offer of formal and non-formal training paths, as much flexible as they can be in their organization and in the manner and timing of delivery, aimed at acquiring specialized, transversal and socially certified skills throughout the course of life.

First published on Eventual Consistency
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