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Brand Conversation with Kareem Shaker

by Mohammed on March 26, 2010

Today, I spoke to Kareem Shaker,  Kareem is an experienced project manager who enjoys writing about management and leadership, he has worked on and managed challenging IT projects from different industries such as online payment processing, supply chain management, retail management, classifieds management system, CRM, e-Government, Finance, and other. Kareem holds a B.Sc. in telecommunications and is a PMP certified.

You can connect with him via @Twitter

Mohammed: “A World without Failed Projects”, do you think it is possible to achieve that especially in the crisis happening around the world, what the project managers, sponsors, PMO, etc. need to work on in order to make it happen?

Kareem: I think it is only possible when the sun rises from the west, a 0% failure rate is sort of impossible, I am not trying to be pessimistic but I am realistic, I strongly believe that projects fail because of people, though there are many other root causes of failures that have been identified by many analysts and as I identified in a series of articles that I have written on my blog about why projects fail, people are the key, if there is no process in place, it is people’s fault, because people are the ones who devise the process, if technology is the reason, then it should not have been selected in the first place if people have conducted robust due diligence, hence most of the reasons the failure is based on are strongly bound to people

Project managers have to pay more attention to planning phase and to do more effort to identify and manage risks, Mohammed, show me a failed project and I will show you tens of risks that either have not been identified or managed, project managers will always be suffering in organizations that do not really believe in the role of the project management, it is so exhausting for the project manager to work in a weak matrix structure where people may not have good reasons to be productive, and here comes the role of the project sponsor to empower the project manager and delegate his power in order for the project manger to influence functional managers and resources to get the project delivered, the world will have better products only when project management role is appreciated!

During recession times, sponsors have to ensure they are doing the right thing, projects have to be selected with utmost attention and proper feasibility study has to be conducted for each and every project, only projects whose solid business cases have to be implemented, on the other hands project managers have to ensure that the a value is delivered without only focusing on delivering on time, within budget, and to scope.

Mohammed: I found many of Project Managers without PMP certifications but they are running multi-million projects and most of them closed it successfully. Does having a PMI PMP considered a prestigious cue or is it a way to validate your experience and differentiate yourself (personal brand) from other project managers?

Kareem: PMP has become so famous these days, and this is in fact started to be counterproductive, the reason it has become so famous is that, with the increasing rate of project failure, companies try to take a preventive action to maximize likelihood of success and they mistakenly make PMP a must to interview candidates, this is real and it is happening, at the beginning I thought it is only in the middle east, but with interaction with different project managers around the globe, I came to know that it is a global trend, I have strong belief that PMP may be an indicator to knowledge but it is absolutely not an indicator to experience nor skills, the worst thing a company can do is to screen job candidates based on certification, you know what, when the Pharaohs built the pyramids the project manger was not PMP certified!

PMP has become a matter of compliance, people only get certified to increase their chance of getting a job as it is quite unfair to be dropped because you are not certified, I think that the first thing a PMP does after passing the exam is adding “PMP” next to his name in email signature and business card, the bottom line is that, PMP can be a pro for genuine project managers and so a project manager is encouraged to get it, if it may not benefit him it will never harm!

Mohammed: What are the top 3 tools every project manager need today?

Kareem: The tools are:

1. Microsoft Project 2010 has become much mature and it is my preferred scheduling software it offers great capabilities with Microsoft Project Server

2. xMind is a great mind mapping tool to brainstorm, it can be used for building work breakdown structure, requirements gathering, and to communicate information to stakeholders in a clear and understandable format, it also can be used for capturing minutes of meeting and for many other purposes.

3. Microsoft SharePoint has become one of the most famous technologies, it is bundled with most of Microsoft enterprise products, using SharePoint a project manager can build a Project Management Information System (PMIS) in short time, there is a free edition of SharePoint that is called Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 (WSS 3.0), while the learning curve may be steep at the beginning, with time benefits will be realized.

Brand Word: Every morning I think of new ways to lead people, and the only thing I am always left with is respect.

Spotlight: I recommend you read “First Things First” by Stephen R. Covey.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Kareem Shaker April 13, 2010 at 5:52 PM


It has been my pleasure to network with you, thank you so much..



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