ATHENA Alumni Talks: the dynamics of project management

renata zaliauskaite

Last December, the new ATHENA alliance career service-initiated project “Alumni Talks” began gaining momentum. In these discussions, ATHENA alumni share their experiences, insights, and knowledge with the student community.

Renata Žaliauskaitė, a Chairperson of the Alumni Association of the Faculty of Environmental Engineering at Vilnius Gediminas technical university, shares her experience in the ATHENA Alumni Talks series on successful project management, sustainable solutions, and reveals the essential qualities of a successful project manager.

Renata Žaliauskaitė’s involvement spans diverse projects, ranging from the implementation of information systems to the management of intricate infrastructure projects. She has led project management teams and implemented strategic project management practices within various companies. Thus, together with her, let’s explore the successful project management dynamics.

Key Personal Qualities for Effective Project Leadership

Žaliauskaitė underscores the paramount importance of several key qualities for successful project leadership. “Foremost among them is the imperative to be result-oriented, directing focus towards the project’s end goal. It’s easy to become entangled in processes, but the ultimate objective is to achieve tangible results through these processes,” she asserts.

Other crucial qualities identified by R. Žaliauskaitė for an experienced project manager include strategic thinking, effective communication skills, and emotional resilience.

Prompted by the overlap of these qualities with leadership attributes, the question arises: must a project manager embody leadership qualities?

Žaliauskaitė leaves no room for doubt. “The formula for a professional and successful project manager lies not just in executing project management processes correctly but in executing the needed project management processes at the reasonable moment,” she firmly believes.

Integrating Sustainability into Project Management

According to R. Žaliauskaitė, sustainability has become an integral aspect of modern project management, necessitating the selection of enduring, environmentally conscious solutions. However, the ultimate decision rests with the project client, irrespective of the project type, whether infrastructure-related or otherwise.

“Today, sustainability often entails a higher cost. Opting to pay more is not a simple choice, but this tendency accompanies shifts in culture and attitude. As society increasingly underscores the significance of sustainability, more projects will emerge with enduring solutions. My hope is for this ethos to become ingrained in our philosophy, a self-evident principle,” R. Žaliauskaitė expresses.

She anticipates that as environmental perspectives evolve, and a new culture of sustainability takes shape, legal regulations will gradually align with more sustainable solutions. Acknowledging that this transformation is a gradual process tied to societal attitudes, she emphasizes the current opportunity to instil a culture of sustainability, starting within families, kindergartens, and schools.

Applying LEAN Methods in Project Management

R. Žaliauskaitė reflects on her immersion in the world of LEAN since 2017, incorporating LEAN tools into her daily practices.

“LEAN is rightly considered a philosophy, and once you experience its benefits, relinquishing these tools becomes impossible as they evolve into a guiding principle,” R. Žaliauskaitė emphasizes.

In her view, the most effective tools for enhancing project management processes through a project management lens include “Mini Kaizen“, “PDCA Kaizen“, “Gemba“.

Confidently asserting that LEAN has become an inherent part of her approach, she evaluates every process through the lens of value creation. Quoting Peter Drucker, a pioneering figure in modern management, she underscores that there is nothing more meaningless than efficiently executing tasks that should not be undertaken at all.

Factors Contributing to Project Success

Drawing on her extensive experience, R. Žaliauskaitė identifies the essence of project success as purpose and collaborative teamwork. Even for a seasoned project manager, she maintains that if the project team lacks clarity on the purpose, implementation becomes exceptionally challenging.

Recalling one of her most memorable projects, where the team had to deliver contract results three months ahead of schedule, R. Žaliauskaitė attributes success to effective communication and collaboration. Collaborating with the company’s leadership, they worked with the team to ensure a shared understanding of the project’s significance and the need for immediate focus. Underscoring the pivotal role of top-level leadership support and clear prioritization, she acknowledges that success would have been unattainable without these factors.

In the ATHENA Alumni Talks series, Renata Žaliauskaitė delved into even more aspects of project management.

Watch the video recording of the R. Žaliauskaitė’s discussion here:

renata zaliauskaite