What’s the one skill
every project manager
commitment I mean
engagement, communication and leadership.
Project management is
a service. To serve other
people, you have to be
committed to them.
What’s the best pro-
fessional advice you
“Learn to recognize
when speed is not
important.… It’s sometimes vital to strike the
last blow, to give the
final answer or to arrive
after everyone else.” It’s
from a Star Wars Jedi
What’s your favorite
of mountain running.
You have to run above
2,000 meters ( 6,562
feet) at a minimum
incline of 30 percent.
It helps me to reconnect with nature and
recharge my batteries.
What does your role entail?
I’m redesigning the Arctic Portal’s portfolio and
also planning and submitting proposals for five
large research projects funded by Horizon 2020,
the EU’s biggest funding program for R&D. Each
project would take three to four years to implement. We’re transitioning from a rather hectic
environment, where we tried to get any projects
possible, to a portfolio with greater stability of
funding and development. We’re not just redesigning the portfolio; we’re also diversifying and
What ensures success with these project pro-
It’s about targeting the appropriate calls for proposals, knowing funders’ requirements, building
the consortium and then planning the proposal.
To plan a large research project with a budget of
€ 8 million to € 10 million requires a minimum of
four months’ time, including communicating with
Can you describe a few of these larger research
One involves advanced weather prediction in polar
regions and beyond—linking the climate changes
in the Arctic to changes in midlatitudes. For this
project, we’ll partner with meteorological centers
and research institutes, and our role will be to
communicate the science to stakeholders, mainly
in the private sector. We serve as a translator of
science, while also dealing with data management.
For another project, called the Arctic Renew-able Energy Atlas, we will collect renewable-energy
best practices—from Russia, Scandinavia, Iceland,
Greenland, Canada and the United States—and
enable these countries to learn from each other.
If we show there’s a school in Finland that has
the largest solar panels in Scandinavia, then other
countries can learn to establish similar practices.
You’re working with a wide range of stakehold-
At the center of all our projects is stakeholder
management. What we fundamentally do is manage different expectations and needs and try to
get people to work together to achieve shared
objectives. We have stakeholders from many different regions—a minister from Russia, a senator
from Alaska, an official from the prime minister’s
office in Iceland. It’s very difficult to get people, for
example, from Shell and Greenpeace to sit down
and discuss Arctic drilling and oil extraction and
remain calm and address the problem.
How do you handle that challenge?
First, by earning trust. Second, by developing a network. Even if we don’t agree on everything, there
has to be a lot of respect and friendly discussions.
Despite the fact that the Arctic is a huge region, it’s
also a very small community. We know almost all
the stakeholders in the region, so it’s easy to pick up
the phone and check in. Whether you’re in Siberia
or Greenland, we have common challenges.
How do you determine the value of project
management to your organization?
We look at our partners’ and customers’ satisfaction. The level of trust between us and our partners has grown. They see that our organization
has invested in a professional manager who has
success submitting proposals, which encourages
them to partner with us. Our organization has
only about 10 people, yet we’re currently involved
in four large project proposals involving institutions that have from 600 to 800 people and a lot
of Arctic infrastructure, such as research stations
or icebreakers. We’re involved in these projects
because of our expertise in science communication
and data management—and strong project and
stakeholder management are critical factors in the
success of these projects. PM
“It’s very difficult to get people, for example, from Shell and
Greenpeace to sit down and discuss Arctic drilling and oil
extraction and remain calm and address the problem.”