Extract from Project magazine, April 2010

David Shannon has made many contributions to the profession of project management.   he is probably best known for his work on governance – the influence and reach of which stretches far beyond these shores.


WITH projects and programmes increasingly multi-owned and having to meet ever more relentless time scales and corporate responsibilities, the importance of effective, strong and accountable governance of project management has never been clearer. Few people have done more to ensure that governance is recognised as a key factor in project success or failure and in reaching an organisation’s financial, strategic and social goals than APM stalwart David Shannon. Chairman of the APM’s Governance Specific Interest Group and a significant contributor to the association’s Body of Knowledge, David has been a keen and effective champion of promoting higher project management standards within APM and the profession at large.

“When the Office of Government Commerce listed the eight reasons most likely to lead to project failure, seven of them could be attributable to poor governance,” says David. “It is important that project management is recognised as crucial to the future value of any organisation. Guidance for directors is needed and that is why the Governance SIG is active in effectively defining and promoting good practice.

“Our common interest is to influence directors and others to adopt excellent practices regarding the governance of their portfolios of programmes and significant projects. This involves aligning the interests of directors, of programme and project teams and of wider stakeholders.”

David has been a passionate advocate of high project management standards since his early days working in the planning office of Taylor Woodrow building the Wylfa nuclear power station in Anglesey in the 1960s. During a varied and globe-trotting career David has earned a reputation for improving organisational performance and the delivery of complex projects.

“Project management appealed because it was a developing discipline, provided a continuing challenge, offered huge variety and required me to deal with senior management’s issues,” says David.  It also appealed because as a consultant I could concentrate on giving my clients the best value projects.”

David’s career has taken him to more than 20 countries while working as a senior consultant with PA Management Consulting, as an institutional development specialist at the World Bank and in his current role as managing director of advisory and training firm Oxford Project Management Ltd. He said the biggest influence on his career has been approaching project management from the client’s point of view while with PA Consultants. The World Bank focus on institutional competence and sustainability reinforced that focus.

“This perspective has never left me and is the reason why I have such an interest in governance,” he says.

He has been an enthusiastic member of APM since arriving back in the UK in 1988 and has fulfilled several roles. These include heading the professional board, encouraging the birth of the association’s qualifications and starting two SIGs which have gone from strength to strength. He served several years on the then Council during a time when it had to make many strategically difficult decisions which laid the foundation for the APM as it is today. David said he is delighted that the APM is becoming more professional, adding: “Long may we continue to rely on the voluntary involvement and support of our members through the branches, SIGs, committees and the leading officer roles.

“My plea would be that we in APM continue to be an outward facing community. Through co-operation with all the stakeholders in project management we will maximise our impact for the general good while at the same time strengthening ourselves.  Such outreach should include close cooperation with other professional bodies and with local and central government. Our Governance SIG includes several non-APM professionals and is all the stronger for their contributions.”

There is no doubt David has been an exceptional influencer of project management thinking while, he says, in return he hugely enjoys the many friendships he has made within APM and in the wider international project management community. The mission now is to press home the message that good governance equals good project delivery – not to mention piece of mind. As David remarks: “ I have continued to concentrate on helping clients to master their project management and have enjoyed seeing them more in control and knowing they can sleep easier at night.”

Mentor Highlight

David Shannon


Read Project magazine's April 2010 profile of David Shannon as one of their top influencers on project management.…