After graduating with a qualification in business management in the mid-1980s, Prabesh Aryal’s career path seemed set. But like the development projects the Nepalese project manager now manages, such a path is never predictable, and it was not long before the discipline of project management captured his attention.
Following stints as a government and banking employee, Aryal says he “realised I wanted to do something else”, prompting a move into projects. He took up a position at a European multinational doing business-related projects, and although he knew he didn’t want to remain in that industry, he says the experience was an important one: “That’s when I started to understand project management systems.”
Inadvertently, Aryal had hit upon a different way of doing things, one that made sense to him and made him excited. “At the government and at the bank I was doing normal office activities, not projects. It was something different that I wanted to do, like to establish things like a product, or to start an implementation and give benefits,” he explains.
It was not until 2000 however, that Aryal was able to make his admiration for project management more formal. “I went to my first international project management conference in Vienna, and that conference changed my whole way of thinking about how a project should be managed. It opened up looking at everything from a project management perspective. It’s a very structured way of doing things. That was very special to me,” he says. “Right after that conference I wanted to attend more conferences on project management auditing and to find out about project management best practices throughout Europe.”
In his thirst to learn more about the discipline, Aryal discovered the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM) and has since been to a number of its National Conferences, networking with Australian project managers and acquiring an understanding of project management best practice. This equips him well to not only work at international organisations, but to progress project management maturity in Nepal.
“In Nepal, it is early stages. Many people still think project management applies only to construction projects, a very early 1970s concept,” he relays. This is changing, however, as people begin to see the benefits of project management in areas other than construction.
The Nepalese counterpart to the AIPM is also at a nascent stage, with just three years of history. The goal remains familiar, though, “to promote project management practice and advance the profession to show that project management has a systematic approach to make your project a success”.
Education will help, says Aryal, as will the support from the International Project Management Association (IPMA), of which the Project Management Association of Nepal (PMAN) is a member, and the regional Asia Pacific Federation of Project Management (APFPM), with which PMAN associates.