Role: Head Of PMO
Company: BT on the island of Ireland
Track Record: Rachel Overton delivers large IT solutions for government and commercial customers across Ireland.
What does your job entail?
I am the head of the project management office (PMO) in BT on the island of Ireland. My team supports the programmes and projects across our company, ensuring that we are delivering on time, in budget, and supporting our project management teams to do so.
The programmes and projects that we deliver are large IT solutions for government and commercial customers across the island of Ireland.
We deliver many major programmes and projects for our larger public and private sector customers. They vary in size and scale — from short-term design and build projects through to those much more complex such as our financially free-standing 20-year PFI/PPP with Northern Ireland’s Land and Property Services to manage the region’s end-to end registration process online.
The PMO function is being extended within BT Ireland to cover central programme and project governance, risk and issue management, change controls and other key functions.
It is a busy time for the PMO while we continue with our core work and take on the additional functions. In addition, we’ve recently merged the teams across all the departments in BT Ireland to simplify the way we work. This is to ensure that we have a clear delivery model to manage our customer projects consistently and to quality.
Is it 9-5?
The job isn’t 9 to 5, as with many jobs I could work 24/7 so I try to keep on top by making sure I get home on time a few evenings a week. My team are based in both Dublin and Belfast so I travel with the job too.
I am also the corporate representative on the committee of the Association for Project Management. I attend committee meetings and events in the evenings that are run for project managers — for example attending a tour of an NI business such as Bombardier or hearing first hand from a project manager who has delivered a project and what their experiences were, such as the Titanic building.
How did you get into this line of work?
I started out as a qualified engineer and went into the broadcasting industry. I worked my way up into project management and then technical and customer management.
Having worked in the broadcast industry for 12 years, I decided I’d like to join an organisation that had technology as its core business and to go back to dealing with external customers — so I joined BT.
I’ve really enjoyed working with the company as I love working with our customers and delivering projects and programmes.
Outline your career to date?
I graduated with a first class engineering degree in electroacoustics. My first job was with Granada Studios in their sound department and then I worked as an engineer with UTV.
I joined the BBC projects department in London where I worked on a number of broadcast engineering and IT projects including digital television roll out. I returned to BBC NI in 2000 for a technical manager role, looking after the news and operations departments for new technology, service issues and projects.
I joined BT in 2006 as a project manager and delivered various projects before being promoted last year into a management role.
Having held different management roles I’ve been fortunate to benefit from leadership training both at the BBC and BT. At the BBC I was selected for a women’s leadership course which had 40 places across the organisation and was excellent and very inspiring.
I am on the committee of the Association for Project Management and I’m a chartered engineer.
What qualities are required for your job — personal and professional?
The main qualities are being organised, focused on getting results for our customers on time, to quality and budget. A key quality for a project manager or manager is to be able to work with your team to get things done together — and enjoy it.
What are the biggest challenges and rewards of your work?
The job can be very demanding, in terms of dealing with lots of activities across a number of projects, customers, my team and other parts of BT.
The reward is working with my team to rise to the challenges and deliver great customer experience — the best reward is a happy customer and getting results.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love to go running and do yoga. Myself and my partner love spending time with my gorgeous seven-year-old step daughter and have great fun with her hanging out at home or going for days out in the beautiful Northern Irish countryside.
We have just got two kittens who are only seven weeks old so they are very cute and we’re loving having them as an addition to the family.
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself?
I am a qualified yoga teacher… one day I may find some time to put it into practice.
Who has inspired you most in your life?
Personally, my family have inspired me — my brother, to keep smiling no matter what, my sister to make sure I look after myself and my mom to work hard and do the right thing.
Professionally, I was inspired by Greg Dyke when he was in charge of the BBC. He was excellent at making everyone in the organisation clear on what our priorities were, motivating us to meet those priorities and making a large complex organisation feel small and energetic.
This resulted in great outputs like the start of Freeview which made digital TV much more affordable and the launch of digital TV and digital radio channels.
Staff walked out in protest when Greg Dyke left the BBC in 2004 during the controversial Hutton Inquiry. It’s inspiring that he had such staff support and to think about the qualities industry leaders would hold to get the same reaction.