Iliyana's Blog

My Top 5 Learnings from Creating and Running a PMO

[fa icon="calendar'] 27-Jul-2022 14:10:16 / by Iliyana Stareva

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In my previous job at Cisco, I was put in charge of creating and running a PMO (Project Management Office) for the execution of the departmental strategy. 

I had never done this before but I took the challenge. It was incredibly interesting and rewarding to have to figure out something from scratch. It was also a big responsibility but this is what made it so exciting to work on. 

The approach I took was to examine the organisation and teams we had, look at what was going on already and figure out a way to make it work with what we had at hand and align with the teams and the existing projects. This PMO was focused on internal projects, not external so I think adapting to the organisation and your clients (internal or external) is extremely important. 

I learned so much from designing a PMO. When I reflect back on it, there are five key things I believe are key when being in charge of a PMO. 

My Top 5 Learnings from Creating and Running a PMO

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The Four Management Zones in the Age of Disruption

[fa icon="calendar'] 11-Apr-2022 14:01:00 / by Iliyana Stareva posted in Brands and Business, Growth

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I was recently made aware of a book called "Zone to Win" and having just watched a video summarising the key points, I found it fascinating.

It's not just about why established companies struggle to embrace disruptive innovation but about how they can do it. 

Even though I have not yet read the book, I thought it would be helpful to share some of the key points with you as they can be an eye-opener. 

The author, Geoffrey Moore, argues that companies struggle with disruption because of internal issues. Having worked in different types of industries and different organizational sizes, I can definitely agree. Internal processes and challenges stall innovation. Companies get too bogged down into fixing things rather than innovating and changing.  

To resolve such issues, the book says organisations need to segment the enterprise into distinct management zones, each with its own methods and metrics.

These zones are also aligned with the strategic horizons of the company - a model defined by McKinsey around annual planning of investments and resources and when you get a return on them. 

The Three Investment Horizons

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Going Sustainable When it Comes to Fashion - Fast vs Slow Fashion

[fa icon="calendar'] 20-Mar-2022 13:00:04 / by Iliyana Stareva posted in Sustainability, Zero-waste

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At the beginning of the year, I promised myself to go slower

That promise relates to clothes, shoes and accessories as well - either through 'slow fashion' or simply making a lot more conscious decisions about the things that I buy to wear for myself or my family (if at all). 

Why am I making this decision? Because 'make, waste, dispose' is the premise of fast fashion and it doesn't fit with my sustainability beliefs and zero-waste efforts.

Fast fashion has become so big and we're all guilty of it. We buy pretty clothes and fashion accessories or shoes that are the latest trends, we use them, then simply dispose of them and certainly, not everyone reuses them or recycles them.

Fast fashion is basically “an approach to the design, creation, and marketing of clothing fashions that emphasizes making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers.” It's fueling your desire for “new" and FOMO.

Thanks to COVID-19,

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The 6 Pillars of Project Management Leadership

[fa icon="calendar'] 21-Feb-2022 10:48:29 / by Iliyana Stareva posted in Program Management, Project Management

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70% of all projects in organisations fail. Shocking isn't it? But it's the reality. And most often than not, projects fail because of competing priorities. 

We move too fast and work on too many things at the same time. Many leaders want everything done now. Program and project get assigned to multiple projects at the same time alongside other stakeholders from the companies. And because there's so much to do and little prioritization to everything that needs to be done, project teams have to choose shortcuts and many times jump right into doing without planning. But by skipping planning, project teams are bound to see surprises later for their initiative.   

That's why I see the job of the project or program manager to push back to leadership and ask for prioritisation, to really look at where do we get the most impact among all the projects and to work with leadership to identify what to 'kill'. Organisations have the habit of just adding things but we never look back at what's actually not working and just stop it so we reuse the resources and talent for the initiatives that will bring an impact. 

In fact, the ROI from quitting the wrong thing is far greater than the ROI from doing the right thing.

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Going Slow in 2022

[fa icon="calendar'] 03-Jan-2022 11:30:14 / by Iliyana Stareva

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With the New Year having just arrived, I have a confession to make. 

I'm a total speedoholic and a rushaholic.

And I've become an even bigger speedoholic and rushaholic since having a baby and returning to full-time work. 

Reflecting on 2021, I realise that I have managed to achieve a lot - got back to work from maternity, managed to juggle having my daughter at home until she was 11 months before she started daycare, made new friends in the Netherlands, travelled 3 times during these COVID days (probably would've been 13 had it not been for COVID) and generally, kept everything going smoothly, taking care of my family daily while having a newborn and now a toddler. 

I'll be honest, having a child is a lot of work, especially when neither my husband nor I have any family living here in the Netherlands. I did not expect it to be that much and I'm guilty of trying to do many things on my own (even though I have a terrific, supportive husband) and putting pressure on myself to get so many things done in a single day, feeling like a failure when not getting something done or not getting it done on time as per my original plan. The time I've had for myself to recharge or disconnect has been minimal, mainly because I had prioritised other to-dos. 

The work-life balance or work-life integration I had before having my beautiful daughter was figured out and sorted; it was working perfectly. But in 2021, I've been trying to adjust to my new normal. In some areas, I've succeeded, in others I haven't and especially in taking care of myself.

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