Speaker & business coach
Dr Penny Pullan founded Making Projects Work Ltd. in 2007 to focus on solutions to make projects and programmes work.
Dr Penny Pullan is a renowned expert in Virtual and Hybrid Leadership. She’s the author of the bestseller and CEO Today Top 5 book for lockdown: ‘Virtual Leadership: Practical Strategies for Getting the Best Out of Virtual Work and Virtual Teams’. Penny works with leaders and teams who are grappling with the challenges of our virtual and hybrid world, to enhance collaboration and effectiveness across dispersed and often newly formed teams. Over the last nineteen years, Penny has built and rolled out globally her Virtual Leadership model, facilitation tools and techniques, achieving stunning results, working with organisations such as Robert Half, Astra Zeneca and the UK Government. Clients say: ‘Penny’s virtual leadership ideas are easy to implement and have transformed my effectiveness and that of my team.’ They find that clarity, connection, collaboration and confidence grow when they apply Penny’s methods.
Penny’s experience of virtual and hybrid teams began when 9/11 forced her to run a major programme virtually, rather than starting with a two-week kick-off in New York as planned. Through this sudden, unplanned immersion in virtual work, Penny showed that virtual could work for global programmes, despite the limitations of technology at the time. Her employer at the time was Mars Incorporated, where Penny developed Mars’ first guidelines and training for remote teams. Later Penny set up her consultancy, Making Projects Work Ltd, where she mentors individuals, runs masterclasses, advises project and leadership teams, and speaks internationally, all from her base in the middle of England.
Until the lockdowns of March 2020, demand from Penny’s work came predominantly from leaders in multinational companies grappling with dispersed programme and project teams. Since March 2020, her expertise and advice are being sought by leaders across industries and across the globe, as they realise that working virtually is here to stay, and achieving excellence in it is essential for their businesses to flourish. She is frequently asked for articles and has been invited to appear on national TV and radio.
Penny founded the annual Virtual Working Summit in 2010 and this year’s virtual summit had participants from 81 countries, a record. Her next book focuses on collaboration: ‘Making Workshops Work: Creative Collaboration for Our Time’ (PIP, 2021). Previous books include: ‘Business Analysis and Leadership: Influencing change’ (Kogan Page 2013), ‘A Short Guide to Facilitating Risk Management’ (Gower, 2011) and a chapter in ‘The Gower Handbook of People in Project Management’ (Gower, 2013). She is a co-author of the upcoming ‘Managing Successful Programmes’ (TSO, 2020) and a past chair of the Association for Project Management’s Special Interest Group in Programme Management.
To complement her virtual leadership expertise, Penny has pioneered the use of simple visuals for virtual communication. During her initial engineering training, she learnt to use diagrams and visuals to capture the essence of a problem, and continued to do this in business. Penny’s graphics provide a holistic, visual, overview and help with clarity of communication. These engaging graphics feature in her talks – she was the first person to retain over 97% of people to the very end of an APM webinar. She has helped hundreds of people to develop competence and confidence in using simple visuals to communicate with clarity, both in-person and virtually.
Penny was honoured to be one of the first dozen people worldwide to be given the ‘Certified Professional Facilitator – Master’ designation. Her PhD in Nanotechnology and MA in Engineering are both from Cambridge University – she is a Chartered Engineer, along with holding a number of other certifications and qualifications. She lives with her family, adult children and a handful of fish in a market town in the centre of England. When she is not busy at work or writing, she spends her time learning the violin, cultivating cucumbers and studying theology.
As a direct result of this work our planning has gone out by a further 6 months with more to follow. This is a fundamental change in the way we operate and it yields more time for quality preparation rather than “seat of the pants” responses. This will translate into cost savings that will find their way into projects that are at the heart of our work.