Inspiring Women in Project Management: Caroline Crewe-Read

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Inspiring Women in Project Management: Caroline Crewe-Read

This year, I am interviewing 10 incredible women in project management. My blog was started 10 years ago to increase visibility for women working on projects. I’m thrilled to be able showcase the careers and voices of some inspiring women.
Today, Caroline Crewe-Read is Head of Corporate Programmes and Projects at Historic England in England. Her work has taken her to some the most historic and iconic locations in the country. One of her major programs laid the foundations for a new way to manage historic environments conservation – a legacy she can be proud of.
Let’s not get into that now, but let’s get to the beginning.
Caroline, how did your journey into project management begin?
Accenture was where I first encountered project management. I worked on large IT programmes and projects for clients in the financial sector. Accenture-specific methodologies meant that I had a narrow focus and approach. I think that this is why I didn’t really “get into” project management until I started working for English Heritage.
I was in a transitional role and my skillset allowed me to be asked to manage an exciting new capacity-building project called the Historic Environment Traineeship Scheme (HET). I had a limited time frame to set up the scheme and recruit my first trainees. It was then that I realized the importance of following best practices in my approach. This was when the project management seed was planted.
What do you love most about project management?
Bring order to chaos I love helping people realize their visions and turn strategy into reality.
This skill set is something I only recently realized is important. I used to think that those with big ideas were the ones who added the most value to an organization. However, I now realize that visionaries need people who can help them see their goals and make them a reality.
You will be working in amazing places as part of your job at Historic England. What is the most amazing place you have ever visited as part of your work at Historic England?
It must be Stonehenge. English Heritage, as it was then known, was my organization in 2003. I led the fundraising campaign for an earlier version of the Stonehenge Project.
This was the ultimate goal, and it has been a decade since achieved.
My academic expertise is British prehistory (particularly stone circles!) It was a truly unique opportunity to be able to work on such an amazing project. It has also given me many stories to tell about dining out, such as stewarding the midsummer Solstice, a marquee dinner at Stones in midwinter, and escorting Joan Rivers around this site during a stormy thunderstorm.
What is the greatest challenge you face in your current role?
Prioritising. Each of the programmes and projects I am currently working on is an important corporate priority. But which one is more important than the other? !
It seems that managing sponsors’ expectations and complex interdependencies involving many key stakeholders is a common theme…
Do you believe prioritisation is a problem that you are dealing with or something that everyone at your level would have to face when managing multiple initiatives?
If you don’t work in an organization that recognizes the benefits of portfolio management, and prioritizes its projects and programmes accordingly, I think this is a common challenge.
I believe we all have to manage time and priorities on a daily basis. This is true regardless of our level of experience and whether we are delivering a single project or a large number of projects.