Worldview: TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA

By Hunsberger, Kelley | PM Network, July 2008 | Go to article overview
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Worldview: TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA


Hunsberger, Kelley, PM Network


IN THE SHADOW OF A SUPERPOWER, THIS DIVERSE METROPOLIS SETS ITSELF APART AS A BREEDING GROUND FOR FUTURE GLOBAL PROJECT LEADERS.

Toronto seems to take a certain pride in being a city of firsts, biggests and bests. Not only is it the largest city in Canada, it's the fifth-largest in North America. The Canadian metropolis also boasts the world's longest street, North America's biggest castle and the country's largest museum. And until the Burj Dubai passed it last September, Toronto was the hometown of the world's tallest freestanding structure, the CN Tower.

The epicenter of Canada's entertainment, financial and banking industries, this city clearly likes to stand out from the crowd.

And it expects its project managers to do the same.

That might be a problem, however, because while organizations have plenty of project managers to choose from, the really good ones are in short supply, says Michael Flint, PMP, a Toronto-based independent consultant and president of the PMI Southern Ontario Chapter. "I'd say we have maybe a quarter-million people in the city that claim to have that [project manager] title.... They can spell project manager, but they can't necessarily run projects."

To make it here, project managers must be ready, willing and able to prove their skills-and that may require more than earning the Project Management Professional (PMP®) credential. Indeed, many organizations in Toronto view the certification as a basic requirement.

Companies are looking for project managers to show leadership-and that's not necessarily something that can be taught. "There's no certification for leadership," Mr. Flint says. "It's experience."

It also helps if project managers can work across the organization, says Ardi Ghorashy, PMP, PgMP, senior executive director, global solutions, International Institute for Learning Inc., Toronto. "The difference between a project manager and a good project manager is in their [people] skills. It's their ability to work with senior managers, line managers and technical professionals alike, build bridges and create a culture of collaboration across the firm."

And that means developing a skill set that transcends any specific industry or talent.

"Companies would like to see project managers with skills in multiple areas," says John Abraham, an IT talent scout and human resources liaison at Metafore IT Solutions, Toronto. For example, in the IT industry, it's no longer enough to simply manage a project. The project manager must be able to "go down to a level of coders and developers to understand the technical side," he says. Then they must have the writing skills to document the entire process.

To ensure their project teams have what it takes, some companies are looking to grow their own talent.

"Project management is a profession that is well-recognized and understood in the majority of industries in the greater Toronto area," Mr. Ghorashy says. "Several of this area's business sectors such as banking, telecom and consulting have gone beyond just training their project managers, recognizing that project management is a skill applicable at all levels. As such, these businesses are training a larger portion of their workforce in basic project management skills and techniques."

TRAINING GROUND

At a time of non-stop chatter about globalization and multiculturalism. Toronto can stake its claim as one of the world's most diverse cities. Nearly 50 percent of the city's population was foreign-born, according to 2006 census data. And the business community has clearly learned to adapt. Ten of the 25 organizations named by Mediacorp Canada Inc., BMO Financial Group and TWI Inc. as "Canada's Best Diversity Employees" last April were in Toronto.

Mr. Ghorashy came to Toronto from the United Kingdom nearly 18 years ago and says the city's diversity can be an asset to project managers. "In Canada, cultural differences are not suppressed, but on the contrary are celebrated and encouraged," he says.

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