Leaders’ Insights: Jackie Glynn, Three Ireland

13 Apr 2017

Jackie Glynn, head of portfolio management at Three Ireland. Image: Three

Three’s Jackie Glynn offers insight on how to tackle the shortage of skilled project managers, and explains why Sheryl Sandberg and Iseult Ward are her business heroes.

As well as heading Three Ireland’s portfolio management office, Jackie Glynn is educational foundation liaison officer with the Ireland Chapter of Project Management Institute (PMI).

Glynn will speak at the Ireland Chapter of PMI’s annual national conference, which will take place on 4 May at the Aviva Stadium. With Challenge in Changing Times as the theme, Glynn will discuss project management in the 21st century, touching on the need to promote and develop project management within the school system at second level.

Describe your role and what you do.

At Three Ireland, my role involves developing, managing and evolving a best-practice, business-driven portfolio management office. I work with our CEO and senior management to ensure we have effective portfolio management processes. This is coupled with a decision framework that ensures we are focusing our resources on the programmes that deliver strategic objectives. As educational foundation liaison officer with the Ireland Chapter of the PMI, I create initiatives to encourage members to give back to their profession through educational means.

How do you prioritise and organise your working life?

I use Outlook Calendar as my bible. Each day, I ensure I know what is on the agenda for the next day, and prioritise based on business need. I spend a large portion of my day at meetings or workshops, so I keep up-to-date on emails on my smartphone. I tend to use early morning for thinking time, going through my day on the journey to work. This enables me to prepare, prioritise and hit the ground running once I get to my desk.

What are the biggest challenges facing your business and how are you tackling them?

Change is the only constant in Three, which presents its challenges. The pace of change and the large programmes we are committed to delivering means we are always focused on ensuring that the benefits accrued from our investment are realised by the business. This needs to provide tangible benefits to our customers.

In terms of project management, a recent survey by the PMI found that 60pc of Irish project managers identified a skills shortage in their sector. This needs to be addressed, as Irelands talented workforce is a major factor in attracting FDI into the country. A long-term solution is ensuring that project management (PM) is taught in schools and our members, on a volunteer basis, are already working with TY students. These are tomorrow’s business leaders. We are also partnered with the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition, providing finalists with expert-led PM training.

What are the key industry opportunities you are capitalising on?

At Three Ireland, we are in the middle of executing a major network upgrade programme. This initiative, which represents an investment of €300m, will deliver a state-of-the-art 4G network nationwide for our 2m customers.

We are also in the second phase of our digital transformation, which, on completion, will dramatically transform our business and deliver cutting-edge customer experience innovation.

In addition to all of this, we are focused on mobility and IoT and are capitalising on our M2M business, which is experiencing significant growth across many sectors.

What set you on the road to where you are in the technology industry?

My first job was as an administrator in a local authority, while I studied computer science at night for four years in Trinity College. Carrying out manual tasks and the repetitive nature of the work had a huge influence on my career choice as I could see technology was going to have an enormous impact on the business environment. I also realised I wanted to be in an industry that continuously evolved.

What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?

In terms of roles, I certainly have taken one or two opportunities that ended up being career cul-de-sacs! To my parents’ dismay, I left a permanent and pensionable job, not once, but twice in my career! However, whatever the role, I have always expanded my business, industry and technical expertise. In the last 10 years, any learnings have enabled me to grow as a leader within different organisational cultures and industries. I now have a wealth of experiences to draw from in doing the job I do today.

How do you get the best out of your team?

I believe it is about making the goals clear, then rolling your sleeves up and doing whatever it takes to help people achieve them.

Who is your business hero and why?

COO of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg‘s advice certainly resonates with me. She said: There is no perfect fit when you’re looking for the next big thing to do. You have to take opportunities and make an opportunity fit for you, rather than the other way around. The ability to learn is the most important quality a leader can have.
This is relevant in my current role in Three and also applicable when changing roles.

I also admire Iseult Ward, CEO of FoodCloud. FoodCloud makes the redistribution of surplus food as easy as possible, matching businesses with too much food with charities in their community that have too little; tackling food waste and food poverty in the process.

As a young female social entrepreneur, I think she is very impressive and a role model for us all.

What books have you read that you would recommend?

I’m currently reading The Culture Map by Prof Erin Meyer. This book provides a brilliant guide to what all business leaders need to know right now: how to succeed in managing the diverse cultural contexts of today’s workplace.

The second book I am reading is Phil Jackson’s The Last Season: A Team in Search of its Soul. It charts the LA Lakers’ 2003- 2004 season and is a case study in leadership under duress.

What are the essential tools and resources that get you through the working week?

Loving what I do, family time and laughter!

To gain further insights from Jackie Glynn on project management, you can register and purchase tickets for the Ireland Chapter of PMI’s conference on 4 May here.

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