Associate Director - PMO
Following a leading role at London Heathrow Airport, Pavitar Sahans’ career continues to soar to new heights as he heads up the Project Management Office for Keflavik Airport in Iceland. From tactical problem solving to strategic thought leadership, Pavitar is helping Mace's aviation clients reach for the skies and deliver with impact.
- How did you get into what you do?
I was first introduced to project management when I left university and landed a role within the aviation industry. I was fortunate to gain experience across a number of roles - from wayfinding to programme leadership - eventually finding my calling working in the Project Management Office (PMO). I made the move to Mace to put my skills and experience to the test, taking a leading role in setting up the PMO for Keflavik Airports Expansion Programme - where I’ve been ever since!
- What do you enjoy most about your current role at Mace?
Mace gives you the autonomy to apply entrepreneurial flair and innovative solutions to deliver distinctive value for our clients.Seeing challenges as opportunities is embedded in our culture and I’ve witnessed this first-hand as we’ve embraced the digital agenda, looking to deploy products such as the ‘Control Centre’ and ‘Control Room’ in live environments.
- How do you redefine the boundaries of ambition?
By surrounding myself with talented people who push me to continually learn and improve every day. I have a passion for personal development, from both a physical and mental wellbeing perspective, and I strongly believe taking small positive steps every day will lead to big change overtime.
On the project I’m working on in Iceland, we’re adapting the UK approach to project management to suit local context, and right-size it for the environment we’re working in. So, we’re constantly learning and thinking of better ways to do things across all PMO functions, like commercial management, reporting and information management. For me, the pursuit of a better way is what redefining the boundaries of ambition is all about.
- What has been your proudest achievement at Mace?
It’s been fantastic to develop the PMO team in Iceland, as we support our client’s vision for Keflavik Airport to grow in its role as the main gateway to the country. I have the pleasure of working with a dynamic, diverse and empathetic team and it’s our collaborative approach that helps deliver results.
- Why Mace?
Mace has given me opportunities that I don’t believe I would have found elsewhere. Whether it’s UK-based or international; hands-on project delivery or behind the scenes innovation and strategic problem solving; being part of a forward-looking organisation affords you the flexibility to find your own “why” and go after it. Working at Mace not only empowers you, but it also challenges you to think of new ways of working and bring new perspectives to some of the most exciting projects around the world.
- What skills do you need to be good at your job?
You need to be highly organised, process orientated, and outcome focussed. You also need to be an effective communicator that’s flexible when crossing between strategic thinking and tactical execution. At Mace, we deal with a variety of projects and clients from all walks of life, so you need empathy to improvise and adapt to ever-changing environments.
- What advice would you give to somebody looking to get into what you do?
I would encourage people to find their ‘why’ - something to anchor their motivation around when the going gets tough. Being clear on your purpose is something that is so important, regardless of your field. To get into PMO, project management qualifications are very helpful, such as APM, Project Planning and Control, PRINCE2, MSP and Agile. However, the route I’ve taken has been via project and programme management both in the IT and construction-led markets, before moving into the PMO. I'd encourage anyone new to the industry to try new things and don’t see your path as being linear or in one specific direction. As a result, I have a greater breadth of experience and can take a more rounded approach to PMO services, that ultimately serves the delivery of projects.
- What are you passionate about outside of work?
My physical and mental wellbeing is of utmost importance to me. I do my very best to live a healthy lifestyle. I stay as active as possible and I’m always pushing myself to learn new things.
- If you hadn’t got into this line of work, what do you think you might be doing?
Most likely a career in IT. I like tech solutions, data and most of all, trusty old Excel. However, I feel working in the PMO allows me to reach a perfect compromise.
“Working at Mace not only empowers you, but also challenges you to think of new ways of working and bring new perspectives to some of the most exciting projects around the world.”