When almost all work is done on a project, the project leader’s expertise is vital. That is why Technical Research Centre of Finland has arranged project training for around 300 professionals within a couple of years. The coaching has been important in helping projects run more smoothly and increased their effectiveness.

Business impact

  • Improved customer satisfaction and internal satisfaction
  • Participants were impressed with many factors, including
    • Practicality of the examples used
    • Expertise of the coaches
    • Encouragement to participate actively.

“Project expertise is essential to the success of all our work. This has been the case for a long time, and is becoming more and more true in the development of our own operations as well”,

says Sari Ek-Petroff, who is head of people and leadership development and talent attraction and management at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.

VTT handles about 3,000 projects a year, the largest of which are international joint projects with many partners or even whole ecosystems. The projects may include the organisation’s own experts, customers and other research institutes. VTT has a leading role in many such projects. In addition to steering these processes, project managers need excellent coaching, human leadership and interaction skills.

International-level certification for added credibility

Since the smooth running of projects is so important to VTT, the organisation provides its staff with three levels of project training. The most comprehensive of these, Talent Vectia’s (Verona Consulting currently) coaching programme, is a seven-day Professional Project Manager – Project Excellence programme, the goal of which is international IPMA C certification. In addition to expertise, this comprehensive project management programme includes the prestigious international certificate.

“For large international projects, it can be a requirement from the outset that the project leader has IPMA certification. And even where this is not required, it can nonetheless be a strong competitive factor that gives the customer added confidence in the organization”,

Ek-Petroff says.

VTT usually offers two of these training programmes a year, with about 20 participants in each group. The key elements of the programme relate to project lifespan management, project leadership and specific skills required for obtaining the IPMA C certification. Further sessions cover areas including self-management, interaction skills, engagement of people and stakeholders, and leadership of teams and networks.

The coaching aimed at certification is primarily intended for those who work on demanding projects and who see project management as a key element of their careers. The certification is granted by an independent organisation, the Project Management Association of Finland.

“It is important to emphasise the importance of leadership and interaction in project work. Simply managing things is not enough for top-class results”, says Sari Ek-Petroff, head of people and leadership development and talent attraction and management at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.

The coaching aimed at certification is primarily intended for those who work on demanding projects and who see project management as a key element of their careers. The certification is granted by an independent organisation, the Project Management Association of Finland.

In addition to the comprehensive courses, more intensive, two-day project manager coaching programmes support professional project management for smaller projects. VTT organizes these intensive courses up to four times a year.

In addition, VTT offers one-day coaching for experienced project leaders couple of times a year. This is aimed at supporting and strengthening leadership skills and interaction skills for project management teams.

Projects run more smoothly

Systematic and comprehensive coaching is also a clearly visible part of VTT’s day-to-day work. VTT continuously strives to enhance the effectiveness of projects.

Customer satisfaction is excellent, and based on feedback it is also evident that internal projects run more smoothly.”

says Sari Ek-Petroff

Among the things that participants in the project coaching programmes have praised are the involvement and support of trainees in their own learning and development processes. In addition, the case studies used in the courses were found by many participants to be useful in their own work. The coaches were widely considered to be experienced and inspiring. This can be seen in the fact that all those who have sought IPMA C certification passed the test the first-time round.

VTT finds it highly important that the content of the programmes is tailored to the company’s needs.

“Our special needs and goals have been taken into consideration very well. In addition, we are constantly discussing content in the steering group and tailoring the programme as our needs change”, Ek-Petroff says.