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becoming obsolete in an increasingly digitalised and unpredictable world we are in today.


MANAGING PROJECTS & PEOPLE The Singapore government has made it clear what the objectives of Singapore’s Growth and Transformation Scheme are. The scheme aims to drive a whole-of- value-chain approach in transforming the construction industry. This focuses on the human factor in construction, such as grooming strong industry leaders and leveraging them to spur widespread adoption of technologies like Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) and Integrated Design and Delivery (IDD). This aligns with how innovative industry players view project management today too.


Development of project skills across the industry requires far greater attention and coordination from organisational leaders. Capable and experienced project leaders play an invaluable role in helping teams to break up projects into manageable portions and navigate changes as they emerge. Companies are increasingly seeking talents that bring attributes beyond the traditional technical skills expected in construction projects. Indeed, project talents today are called on to wear more hats than ever and get accustomed to multifaceted job expectations.


Technical skills will always be instrumental, but they increasingly must be complemented by capabilities focusing on working with people and leading teams. This tracks with the feedback from the ground as well. No less than 40,000 project managers we interviewed listed leadership as the most important skill followed by communications, followed by the more traditional project management skill of cost control.


Rather than calling them soft skills, they should be considered power skills given how essential they are, particularly with more professionals working in dispersed virtual environments and across generational divides. These include attributes like creativity and collaborative


A digital supply network is increasingly becoming a must-have for engineering and construction firms as well, especially with expected construction delays caused by the pandemic.


leadership—the type of capabilities that will not be assumed by even today’s most sophisticated machines anytime soon.


Especially when engaged in complex projects that require the input of a variety of stakeholders, it is essential that professionals can leverage these capabilities, including empathy for the voice of the customer and applying an innovative mindset.


Singapore’s quest to find and form the leaders of tomorrow to drive true industry transformation will require similar out-of-the-box thinking about project management too. It is no longer just about managing projects but managing people as well.


LEVERAGING TECHNOLOGY Construction and engineering firms have doubled their investments in


technology over the past decade to reach US$18 billion6


, including greater use of


technologies like 3D printing, robotics, and modularisation to boost productivity and shorten project timelines. As the world grows increasingly digitised, project management skills will also expand into overseeing these technologies effectively for construction.


For example, robots are helping many firms decrease dependence on human labour by automating repetitive steps like bricklaying. A digital supply network is increasingly becoming a must-have for engineering and construction firms as well, especially with expected construction delays caused by the pandemic, requiring efficient use of resources, both human and material.


The pandemic has also brought about ways of working that are more efficient,


Illustrative digital technology application


Image by Shutterstock.com/Gorodenkoff


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