Ellen Maynes: Inspiring Women in Project Management
Do you think project management is about building bridges and IT systems? What if I said that project managers were involved in brokering peace around the world? Yes.
Today’s interview features Ellen Maynes, a project management consultant, 2016 Global Peace Fellow and one of my most fascinating people. Ellen may inspire you to take project management to the next level.
Ellen, tell me about your work in Myanmar.
I arrived in Myanmar from Bangkok, where I had been participating in the Rotary International Peace Fellowship. My fellowship ended with the election of the new democratic leadership of Myanmar.
I chose Myanmar because of my interest in women’s leadership and multi-sector partnerships. Also, because of my passion for the peace process and Myanmar itself, it was a great place to use my skills. Myanmar is fascinating, sometimes frustrating at times, but at other times exhilarating.
Which projects are you involved in and how do you use your project management skills to manage them?
Currently, I am involved with three projects. As a mentor for young Burmese girls, I am participating in the Myanmar Women’s Mentoring Network.
I am also involved in the design of a Timor Leste project management curriculum for Engineers Without Borders. This is a project that I work remotely on.
I am also the Public Engagement Strategist at #womenseriously.
Wow. What does #womenseriously mean?
#womenseriously advocates for women’s representation at all levels of peace and decision-making.
The world is currently very conflicted. While governments, military, and ethic groups all work to broker peace, women are not included in the discussion.
Women make up less than 10% of peace table participants, despite all the research showing that peace is more sustainable when men and women work together to broker it.
#womenseriously is running a campaign in October asking people to host peace tables in their local communities to raise awareness and demand change.
It’s all very exciting, and I’m also project managing a global launch of Women’s Peace Tables Worldwide in Dublin this September.
How did you learn project management skills?
Through a university bachelor’s and masters degree, I learned a lot of the theory. My real learnings came from my work in the corporate and social sectors in Australia, Europe, and Asia.
I learned that the best project managers are those who connect with people, are great leaders, team-builders, and communicators.
You mentioned that you were creating a curriculum for project managers. What is the demand for PM training in Myanmar?
There is a huge need to build technical and project management capabilities in the region. In countries like Myanmar and Timor Leste, where decades of conflict has affected women’s access and work experience, this is especially true.
What role does the PM community play for women?
Unfortunately, women are not represented in the workforce and in project management.
It’s wonderful to see initiatives such as the Myanmar Women’s Mentoring Network, which aims at supporting women in the workforce.
You’ve been involved in some incredible initiatives. Which one has been your favorite?
Good question! I loved designing and delivering a Journalism Fellowship Program in Cambodia for young Australian journalists during my time at World Vision. The immersion program was extremely powerful. All the successful applicants were women.
They learned about post-genocide Cambodian issues, including logging, deforestation and human trafficking, as well as health issues, including the effects of trauma. All of these journalists have achieved great success in their careers, including awards and outstanding job opportunities in Australia and abroad.
You have worked all over the globe. What is your top job?