PPM Graduate 2011-2012
"Much more than I expected"
Bringing more than 12 years’ business experience, Carlos Serra arrived at WMG in 2011 to study for an MSc in Programme and Project Management. He talked to us about his year at Warwick – and how his course helped him to see things in a new way.
Before coming to WMG, Carlos had forged a successful career in Brazil that had seen him gain a Postgraduate Specialisation Certificate in Project Management, become a certified Project Management Professional, publish articles, win business awards and work as a consultant for Petrobras, Brazil’s largest oil and gas Company. So why, after more than 12 years in industry, did he choose to study for an MSc at Warwick?
“I wanted to get a different perspective on things,” he explained, “and gain a deeper understanding of project and programme management. In Brazil, the way we do business is largely influenced by the USA. I was hoping that by coming over to Europe, I would be exposed to some fresh ideas that would help me to change my outlook and broaden my thinking.
“I spent a lot of time researching universities in Europe,” he continued. “WMG stood out for me, not only because of its reputation and ranking, but also because it has a very good name in industry. Companies hold an MSc from WMG in high regard, and recognise that graduates bring a very practical approach to their work. I also spoke to ex-students who spoke highly of their time at Warwick.”
Carlos joined us in 2011 and quickly settled into his programme. Coming half way around the world to study in a completely different environment would make anyone feel a little apprehensive, but Carlos was keen to comment on the support he received from day one, together with the friendly and inclusive atmosphere at Warwick.
We asked him what he thought of the programme. “It was something extremely special and I enjoyed it much more than I expected to,” he answered. “Working collaboratively with fellow students in a multicultural environment like this was completely new to me. It gave me a new understanding of the world and of people.
“The course itself was extremely dynamic. There was a constant mix of seminars, workshops, projects and simulations, all geared toward giving students practical business experience to prepare them for life in industry.”
Carlos talked earlier about how he hoped the course would broaden his outlook, so did it? “Definitely,” he said. “At Warwick, you have access to a whole world of information and resources, as well as many different ideas and concepts. The tutors were great at helping me to navigate my way through that information to find what I needed.
“The tutorial staff also helped me to realise that for every business problem or challenge, there is often no one right answer, but different possibilities that can all be explored. They encouraged us to discuss things and work together to create solutions, rather than just expect to be given ‘the right answer’. This was totally new to me and completely different to my previous experience of education. Doing things this way though, you quickly develop key critical thinking and analysis skills. Looking back at my year now, I realise that most of what I gained wasn’t learned in the classroom. Instead, I discovered it myself with the guidance, encouragement and support of everyone around me.”
Carlos also found it valuable to spend a year away from the working world and in an environment that’s totally focused on learning, as he explained: “I am glad I didn’t study part-time while still working. To get the most out of this, you need to immerse yourself in it, surrounded by like-minded people. During my year, I had the time and freedom to look into new areas, seek out new ideas, talk to new people and fully assimilate all of this information that I was gaining.”
Having completed his programme, Carlos’s first priority is to take a well-earned holiday! “I need time to think things through,” he said. “I have had offers of work, but I’ve met so many people with good ideas that I feel inspired to start my own business – or possibly go on to study for a PhD. My year at WMG has certainly opened up a lot of options for me.”
Life Since WMG
September 2012: Upon completion of his degree, in September 2012, Carlos worked as a Project Management Advisory Consultant & Entrepreneur, supporting businesses on the execution of their business strategies through Project, Programme and Portfolio Management and Benefits Realisation.
November 2012: Carlos was announced winner of the 2012 Postgraduate Student Award from the Association for Project Management. Carlos won the award for his project entitled 'The influence of Benefits Realisation Management on the success of projects in Brazil, the United Kingdom and the United States of America'. You can read more about his award here. Congratulations to Carlos. The award really demonstrates Carlo's hard work at WMG and commitment to his studies and work within the Project Management field.
April 2013: Carlos joined Venture Information Management, a leading UK company in E&P Information Management as Project Office Consultant. Carlos was responsible for overseeing the company's project portfolio including governance, resource management, financial management and revenue forecasting. During his time at Venture, Carlos also provided best practice advice to Project Managers and Business Executives, reviewed the organisation’s Project Management and Resource Management processes and successfully implemented a Project Management Information System (PMIS) specifically designed for Professional Services Automation (PSA).
May 2014: Carlos found a new opportunity at Lloyd's Register Energy, where he is now very happy in his role as PMO Officer. He is responsible for providing direct specialist assistance to Programme and Project Managers and contributing to the on-going development and improvement of project management tools, practices and techniques as well as to the implementation of project control systems and tools.
Since leaving WMG, Carlos' career has gone from strength to strength. With the MSc as a good foundation, Carlos has expanded and developed his work experience, received a range of certifications and is delighted to have recently had an article based on his Masters research published by academic journal, 'the International Journal of Project Management'. The article can be viewed online here.
In his spare time, Carlos shares his passion and experience in project management in his online Project Management blog and is currently working on writing a book based on his Masters research.
We caught up with Carlos a year on and 2015 has proved to be a busy year for Carlos so far.
In July 2015, Carlos started a new role as PMO Lead for Gazprom Marketing and Trading, the UK headquartered commodities trading division of the Russian oil and gas giant company. He is responsible for their project governance processes and is also managing a project to enhance and expand their project management framework.
In May 2015, he presented a session at the PMI Global Congress in London about his Masters research. With over a hundred senior professionals in attendence. He has also recorded webinars about his Masters research for PMI and ProjectManagement.com.
His book that he has been writing is currently under review for publication and he recently had an article published by the IJPM entitled 'Benefits management: Lost or found in translation' written in co-authorship with three gurus in the subject of his MSc research, as well as reviewing articles for the IJPM, as a specialist in project governance.
We congratulate Carlos for his success to date and look forward to catching up with him in the future.