Navigating project management talent in the data-rich era


The digital transformation in project management is causing disruption on how the organizations recognize and value the skills and expertise of the new data-savvy talents in organization’s decision-making processes for improved project delivery. Existing research on digital transformation in projects has mainly focused on what technologies can help organizations and people achieve, without connecting to the disruptions that technologies bring to projects human and social capital. To address this deficiency and harness the data-rich era, there is a need to go beyond the prevailing technical line of thought and think about people’s issues in project settings. Therefore, this research aims to examine talent management initiatives for project management professionals on how they can exploit the inherent advantages of the data-rich era and digital transformation to build an inclusive workplace. The study poses two research objectives, first to understand how project management professionals experience the trends of the data-rich era in the project environment and data-savvy talent (also in light of the changing demographics in the sector) and second to identify the opportunities and obstacles for managing project management talent to deliver projects in the data-rich era. To answer these questions, this paper uses semi-structured interviews from a purposive sample of 24 interviewees with diverse project management experience. The interviewees were recruited from three main categories of stakeholders from industry, academia, and professional institutions. The research through qualitative data analysis and abductive thinking first identifies an overemphasis on developing data-savvy talent in the expense of attracting or retaining it. Second, the study documents the existence of six clusters of opportunities and obstacles in delivering of projects through data savvy project management talent. Accordingly, the identified themes/clusters of connectivity, communication, information management, project delivery, disruption, and project work and wellbeing provide new directions for talent management practices such as attracting, developing and retaining data-savvy talent in the data-rich era.

In Proceedings of the 2023 Annual Conference of European Academy of Management (EURAM)
Dr Eleni Papadonikolaki
Dr Eleni Papadonikolaki
Associate Professor in Management of Engineering Projects

Researcher and consultant at the intersection of management and digital economy