For the final post in our PMO Leader series, I spoke to Tusar Dash, the Director of Technology Governance at Western Union. In this interview Tusar highlights the progression his career has taken from managing small projects to the CIO's top program. Tusar also shares his perspective on the most difficult situations facing PMO practitioners, and the characteristics that will help you successfully navigate challenging environments.
What was your professional journey to becoming a senior-level PMO leader?
Early in my career when I was part of a technical team, I had a tendency to “own” and “do” something about it when I saw a gap or issue or problem. Leaders around me noticed that and asked me to manage small releases that led to managing small projects, to large highly visible projects, to the CIO’s top program. When the enterprise IT got outsourced, I was picked to lead the global PMO delivery organization where I had to simplify processes to deliver on tight budgets and aggressive time lines. Since then I had the opportunity to fix two Fortune-100 PMOs to deliver, and started a PMO from scratch to a machine that delivered results. Now I lead Western Union’s Technology Governance that includes process, tools, training, resource management, and architecture governance.
What was the biggest challenge you faced as a PMO leader in your career? How did you overcome that challenge?
Organizations have varying appetite for change, speed of adoption and true leadership buy-in. While assessing current state and where a PMO needs to be, one has to assess the culture, potential barriers to overcome and identify the change agents as part of transformation. Sometimes you have to crawl before you walk and walk before you run.
What key competencies and/or skills make a great PMO leader?
Collaboration, building community, transformation mindset, making people as well as yourself accountable, providing recommendations and analysis to Executive leadership, commitment to growth of people, listening and providing active help where appropriate.
What organizational and/or cultural characteristics allow PMOs to succeed and thrive?
C-suite support to overcome cultural barriers, data-based decision making, effective resource management and portfolio management, process and a good PPM tool, enabling culture, and executive management looking to PMO for recommendation, analysis, and ramifications of any potential decision.
How do you exhibit and measure the value the PMO brings to your organization?
PMO plays an important role in acting as the operational connective tissue in execution of successful portfolio management, ensuring projects are set up for success during initiation stage, demonstrating PMO effectiveness and operational excellence through KPIs and metrics, monitoring and controlling performance, collaborating to evolve as organization’s goals and strategy change, adopting the mental model of servant leadership, coaching project and program managers to develop soft skills around partnering, driving, consistency, and timeliness. The list goes on and on….