Oliver Wyman: Fuel for innovation top concern Gulf CEO

23 March 2015 Consultancy.uk

Securing fuel for innovation is the top concern for CEOs in the Gulf, the most recent survey among Gulf CEOs by Oliver Wyman and Zogby shows. While CEOs have gained optimism concerning the current business conditions in their country, they see risks in the on-going talent war, lack of capital to grow and the insufficient infrastructure – all of which negatively impact innovation.

Global management consulting firm Oliver Wyman together with public opinion research firm Zogby Research recently released the results of their 10th Oliver Wyman/Zogby survey of 219 senior executives in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait. The survey is set up to track private sector leadership confidence levels and economic reform priorities in the region.

10th Oliver Wyman - Zogby survey

The results highlight the optimism across the Gulf, which, after the dip expressed at the last poll, has returned and reached a peak in all regions except Saudi Arabia, where the peak was seen during the fifth poll in 2011. The biggest bump in confidence from last year is seen in Kuwait, where confidence increased with more than 50% from 38% to 93%, and in Qatar, which saw an increase of 33% from 56% to 89%.

Confidence over the past years

Although confidence has returned, concerns among the CEOs remain as the region is affected by the falling oil prices and continued violence in the region. However, according to the report, these are not the main concerns keeping these CEOs ‘up at night’. The survey indicates that the main concern of Gulf CEOs is the shortage of fuel for continued innovation and competitiveness, with the report noting that “the needs for investment, talent, research, and infrastructure are stubborn obstacles to innovation within the four countries.”

When asked about their worries concerning talent, investment, and infrastructure, the 48% of respondents rate the risk of capital ‘very significantly’ for their business, which is an increase of 7%. Slightly less, 45%, view the talent war as a significantly risk, with 75% of CEOs in the UAE concerned about talent. Existing infrastructure is cited as concern by 38%, a number that is slightly up from last year.

Risk for business in the next 5 years

With the lack in talent, research, infrastructure and regulatory support seen as obstacles to innovation, the survey researched the biggest hurdles. The lack of new ideas and research was mentioned as an important obstacle to innovation by more than half of the respondents (54%), with the highest percentage found in UAE, where almost 64% cited this as important. The lack of talent (43%) and lack of infrastructure (41%) are also viewed as big hurdles. Overall, more CEOs in UAE are experiencing obstacles to innovation, compared to Saudi Arabia, where the concerns are the smallest.

Innovation faces hurdles

Commenting on the results of the survey, Pedro Oliveira, Partner and Middle East & Africa Region Head for Oliver Wyman, says: “Executives in the region are still playing the long game in their concern for the ways to make their achievements sustainable. They want continued internal investment, a flexible and capable workforce, secure and free-flowing business knowledge, and a continued strong partnership with their governments.”

The report was presented during last Friday's FT Live Strategic Forum held in Dubai.



Project management industry adds £156 billion of value to UK economy

15 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

Project management has grown into one of UK’s largest areas of business over the past decade, amid the increasing ‘projectification’ of work. With the gross value added to the UK economy by project management estimated to be £156 billion, this trend is likely to continue in the coming era.

Despite the huge success of project management in recent years, until now there has been relatively little data available on the size of project activity. As a result, there has been a great deal of debate on things like the number of people involved in the sector, the number of projects, and how it contributes to economic output. Due to this need for clarity, APM, the UK’s professional body for project management (the largest organisation of its kind in Europe, with 28,000 individual members) commissioned economists from PwC to shed light on the industry's economic impact.

The research concluded that the profession makes a more significant contribution to the UK economy than the financial services sector. 2.13 million full-time equivalent workers (FTEs) were employed in the UK project management sector, generating £156.5 billion of annual gross value added (GVA). In comparison, the financial services sector contributes £115 billion, and the construction industry adds £113 billion.

Gross value added to UK economy

Commenting on the discovery, Debbie Dore, Chief Executive of APM said, “Project management runs as a ‘golden thread’ through businesses, helping to develop new services, driving strategic change and sector-wide reform.”

Who is a ‘project manager’?

To reach these estimates, PwC’s researchers used detailed models to map out the value of project management activity. They ultimately defined relevant ‘projects’ as “temporary, non-routine endeavours or rolling programmes of change designed to produce a distinct product, service or end result… [with] a defined beginning and end, a specific scope, a ring-fenced budget, [and] an identified and potentially dedicated team with a project manager in charge.”

Building on this, they then went on to define what the act of project management actually is. The job consists of applying “processes, methods, knowledge, skills and experience” so that clients can meet their objectives and bring about planned outputs or outcomes. The analysts added that this includes “initiating the project, planning, executing, controlling, quality assuring and closing the work of an identified and dedicated team according to a specified budget and timeframe.”

Importantly, it should be noted that the profession is not exclusive to only roles explicitly labelled as ‘project manager’, but to any role where specialist project management skills are used. This means that across sectors these roles can have very different titles, from the self-explanatory contract managers of procurement, or the campaign managers of advertising, to the likes of festival co-ordinators in the events sector, and many more. The roles in question also span all strategic levels of the profession, from strategic to tactical and operational positions.

Gross value added of project management profession

From a sector perspective, the financial and professional services, construction and healthcare industries make up almost two-thirds of the total project management GVA. At the same time, understandably, the UK Government has a huge project portfolio, which further drives the size of the GVA the sector contributes, thanks to megaprojects like HS2 and Crossrail.

Commenting on this to the report’s authors, Oliver Dowden, Minister for Implementation remarked, “Project delivery is at the heart of all Government activity, whether it’s building roads and rail, strengthening our armed forces, modernising IT or transforming the way government provides public services to citizens. Getting these projects right is essential if we are to ensure that we build a country that works for everyone.”

Throughout 2019, 26 major government projects were delivered, representing a fifth of the overall Government Major Projects Portfolio (GMPP) of 133 projects. According to the IPA annual report 2017-18, these represented a whole life cost of £423 billion. In addition to this were a plethora of smaller scale projects, and those in early development.

Elsewhere, with the increasing digitalisation of the economy impacting entities of all shapes and sizes, IT and digital transformations tended to dominate the projects of the UK scene alongside new product development projects, with a respective 55% and 46% of organisations in the research sample having undertaken these types of project in the past year. At the same time, this varied across sectors, and unsurprisingly, in the construction and local government sectors, fixed capital projects were the main project type undertaken.


Looking to the future, 40% of business leaders expect project management will grow in the coming years due to the increased use of projects – or the ‘projectification’ of the UK. In a trend that has been witnessed elsewhere, organisations have to rapidly and continuously change in the digital age of business, driving the need for project management.

Outlook for project management services

An increased focus on value over cost – especially in the construction sector – and a forecast increase in the number of international projects are predicted to be key drivers of growth, according to the expert contributors. However, this will not happen in the absence of challenges; more than half of organisations expressed concern over the perceived impact of political uncertainty in the UK. Skills and capability shortages were also cited as a potential barrier by a third of organisations.

With regard to budgets, meanwhile, a third of those surveyed by PwC said they expect the size of project budgets will increase in the coming three years, while 40% anticipate a growth in project size. As the profession continues to mature, and as the recognition of the importance of good project management grows, it is expected that a greater proportion of project work will gain more distinct attribution to the profession itself, giving more recognition and appreciation to the role of the project manager.

Speaking on the findings of the study, Sandie Grimshaw, a Partner at PwC, concluded, “The project management profession is relatively new compared to some other professions, such as lawyers, teachers and doctors. However, as project management is a core competence vital to organisations in the UK, the profession is critical and will continue to grow in stature.”