Dr Charles Willbe, Project Assasin, Project Management Speaker, Seminar Leader and Consultant on Project, Programme and Portfolio Management, Charles is an entertaining and engaging presenter with a broad knowledge of project, programme and portfolio management and related areas, a coach/mentor/consultant with a successful track record, and a highly experienced manager of projects, programmes and business change in a wide variety of environments. Charles’ background is IT project management but he has managed a wide variety of projects in different sectors. He is particularly adept at: • Communicating and influencing – using creative approaches to ensure lasting improvements • Detecting and solving problems – rapidly assimilating and analysing with a value and delivery focus • Implementing portfolio, project and quality management – implementing real world solutions effectively Before he left them in 2003, Charles had worked for GlaxoSmithKline and its predecessors for twenty-five years, latterly in a number of global roles. Originally employed as a Research Chemist, he is named on several patents. He moved into Information Technology (then known as Computing) in 1985 and into Project Management in 1990. After seven years of hands-on responsibility for projects, Charles spent a further five years introducing and promoting best practice in both Project and Quality Management within this large and diverse organisation. Charles has since provided expert advice and "hands-on" assistance to public, private and not-for-profit sector organisations e.g. Ofsted, BT and the Association for Project Management, and is in demand as a presenter on various project/programme/portfolio management topics and for lectures at Cranfield, UCL and Cambridge universities. He is the creator of the Project Assassin, a shady character, dedicated to the demise of projects, found in the “Project Assassin’s Guide”. This seminar presents the reasons for project failure in a novel way – from the Project Assassin’s viewpoint – and has proved very popular. Parts of the “Guide” have been published in Project Manager Today for whom he has also written other articles.

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Dr Charles Willbe

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Background

Charles is an entertaining and engaging presenter with a broad knowledge of project, programme and portfolio management and related areas, a coach/mentor/consultant with a successful track record, and a highly experienced manager of projects, programmes and business change in a wide variety of environments.

Charles’ background is IT project management but he has managed a wide variety of projects in different sectors. He is particularly adept at:
• Communicating and influencing – using creative approaches to ensure lasting improvements
• Detecting and solving problems – rapidly assimilating and analysing with a value and delivery focus
• Implementing portfolio, project and quality management – implementing real world solutions effectively

Before he left them in 2003, Charles had worked for GlaxoSmithKline and its predecessors for twenty-five years, latterly in a number of global roles. Originally employed as a Research Chemist, he is named on several patents. He moved into Information Technology (then known as Computing) in 1985 and into Project Management in 1990.

After seven years of hands-on responsibility for projects, Charles spent a further five years introducing and promoting best practice in both Project and Quality Management within this large and diverse organisation.

Charles has since provided expert advice and "hands-on" assistance to public, private and not-for-profit sector organisations e.g. Ofsted, BT and the Association for Project Management, and is in demand as a presenter on various project/programme/portfolio management topics and for lectures at Cranfield, UCL and Cambridge universities.

He is the creator of the Project Assassin, a shady character, dedicated to the demise of projects, found in the “Project Assassin’s Guide”. This seminar presents the reasons for project failure in a novel way – from the Project Assassin’s viewpoint – and has proved very popular. Parts of the “Guide” have been published in Project Manager Today for whom he has also written other articles.

Areas of Expertise

Charles is regarded as an authority on many areas of project/programme/portfolio management but has particular expertise in the “softer skills” such as Benefits Management and Business Change Management.

His approach to work is to identify the simplest solution that delivers the maximum value and he favours the flexibility of principles over the rigidity of procedures. He is not constrained by conventional thinking in arriving at an optimal solution.

Charles has a track record of providing sound advice, presenting in a lively and engaging way and “getting his hands dirty” to stay in touch with the reality of project management practice in an increasingly complex environment.

Topics include…

Delivering Value – how an organisation can get the “best bang for the buck” from its investment in projects

Integrating Benefits Management – how the management of value needs to be woven into Project, Quality and Business Change Management

Planning Projects – some more recent examples of best practice and new ideas worth exploring

Creating a Project Culture – steps for changing the way a company approaches its business

Implementing a Project Management Framework – what works and doesn’t work

Project Management Mythology - reviewing some beliefs about project
management and questioning whether they are fact or myth

…and, of course, The Project Assassin’s Guide

Charles is heavily involved in the Association for Project Management (APM) and is Corporate Liaison and PR Officer for the East of England Branch. He is also AIM (Business Change Management) accredited.

Client Comments

I've been impressed with Charles’ counter-intuitive presentations. He certainly holds the attention with thought provoking comments. His key-note talk for the UCL/APM professional series 'Introduction to Project Management' is always well received and consistently achieves one of the highest feedback ratings.
One of my research areas is delivering effective professional training, his talks have the rare balance of being memorable and also imparting sound project management/management advice.

Graham Collins, Senior Teaching Fellow, UCL


Charles' presentations are always enjoyable, informative and thought provoking. He is always well prepared but can also react to the audience to ensure that they leave feeling entertained but with a few nuggets to take back to their day to day work and careers. Charles is able to appeal to the wide cross section of our membership; I can wholeheartedly recommend Charles as an excellent speaker.

Joseph Lee, Chairman, APM London Branch

I have known Charles for some time and had the opportunity of hearing him speak at events and make presentations - I am particularly thinking of his talks on Project Assassins.
Charles is a good, original presenter who is clearly knowledgeable about his topic and delivers his messages with clarity and good humour - even rather dry ironic humour, which is a great way to deal with what can be dry subjects such as project management.

Tom Taylor, Principal of dashdot and joint founder of Buro Four

…delegates rated you as one of our top scoring speakers…comments included "Good questions raised”, “ Interesting points, lots of material", "Refreshing views on PM"

Senior Conference Producer, Marcus Evans

Specifically about the 'Project Assassin' presentation
I have been fortunate enough to be in the audience when Dr Charles Willbe has been presenting his 'Project Assassins' talk. This is one of the 'real' project management presentations which gets everyone on the edge of their seat for two reasons, firstly they can relate immediately and say to themselves ' I've been here' , and secondly they don't want to feel embarrassed by not caring !
The presentation has a flow about it and is 'interactive' with the audience. Professional , amusing and gets to the heart of project managers - all of them !

Phil Wright, Director, Plowman Craven & Associates

The Project Assassin's Guide was a very useful presentation. Afterward - I couldn't help looking at my project and seeing 'assassins' everywhere. In a way it made me a bit negative about my whole team, and I reached the point of thinking 'no-one gets it'. I was frustrated. Really frustrated. We were just drifting. It was death-while-still-alive levels.
And then an interesting thing happened. With some built-up emotion, and more than a few nerves, I went to the project leader and said 'If you don't change what you are doing, this project will die'. 'Oh no it won't' he said 'Oh yes it will and here's why' said I. At then end of it he 'hmmmed' a bit and said 'Thanks leave it with me'. (I was also relieved that I still had a job!)
The next day he came to me and basically said 'Right, what do we need to do to change things?' And so change them I did, and we are now going so much better. So can I therefore say 'Thanks - you helped save a project, and I think what you do is excellent.'

Scott Lawlor, Penguin Projects

The Project Assassin's Guide is a surgical analysis of the actions and attitudes of people who can ensure the underperformance of projects, presented in a humorous way. Whilst drawn from experience in the IT world, with a little imagination, it is applicable across a range of industry sectors. I would most certainly listen to it again because I am certain that I did not capture all the gems first time around. A word of caution, it is not something that the mischievous should be exposed to.

Tony Lloyd, Tube Lines

'When I first heard Charles present his Project Assassin's Guide, I entered a roller coaster of emotions - nodding enthusiastically in agreement gave way to laughing, crying, cringing even, at these wonderful insights into the HUMAN factors of projects which cause so many to fail! I felt I must share this with my colleagues and so I did.... It was a huge success. The subject of 'How to do Project Management Better' no longer draws in the crowds, but 'Project Assassins' certainly did. From Deputy MD to salesmen and systems engineers - the room was packed and everyone got something out of it. The common, humorous language of Project Assassins really caught on and created better company wide awareness and understanding.'

Programme Director, Software Engineering Company

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