Thought Leader Top Picks Most Influential Projects 2022

Our annual Most Influential Projects list highlights exciting projects from around the world and across industries that have positively impacted society over the past year. In this post, PMI leaders share some of their favorite projects that are delivering inspiring solutions for the world’s more pressing issues.

Written by Pierre Le Manh | PMI • 21 December 2022

Thought Leader Top Picks Most Influential Projects 2022

Each year, PMI celebrates the 50 Most Influential Projects, recognizing the projects and project leaders behind them that are turning ideas into reality. 

The fourth annual Most Influential Projects list demonstrates how project professionals have found ways to make the way we live, work and play a whole lot easier, better and more interesting.

The main list features innovations in workplace transformation, education, climate action, infrastructure and more. Additionally, PMI has released 30 lists recognizing the Top 10 Most Influential Projects in a variety of regions and industries. These endeavors turn innovation into an art form, showcasing creative thinking around everything from climate change to infrastructure development to space exploration.

In total, the lists include more than 250 breakthrough projects, proving that there’s no shortage of smart problem-solving and initiative amongst project professionals across the world.

Here are a few of the projects on the lists this year, as selected by PMI thought leaders:

Startup Lions Campus

Pierre Le Manh, President and CEO

To help the youth unemployment problem in Kenya, nonprofit Startup Lions built a campus on the banks of Lake Turkana to offer 400 students free training in information communications and technology (ICT), as well as free networking and housing. Designed by Kéré Architecture principle Diébédo Francis Kéré – a Burkina Faso native who recently became the first African to win the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize – the campus is a first step in a vision of spreading ICT networks in remote areas.

Why I Chose This Project: Dynamics are changing, and our world is becoming increasingly complex, fast-paced and agile – and we need the next generation of leaders to be prepared. That’s why I’m so inspired by this year’s top educational project, the Startup Lions Campus in Kenya. Not only is the school providing educational opportunities for the region’s youth, but the nonprofit is also training students in valuable technical skills that will help fill education gaps, such as web development, animation and graphic design. At PMI, we place a priority on upskilling and reskilling teams and project professionals around the world. This project sets a grand example of what can be accomplished when we come together to prioritize education and upskilling amongst tomorrow’s entrepreneurs and leaders.

The New HQ

Mike DePrisco, Chief Operating Officer

The past two years have seen extraordinary upheaval in the modern workplace. Those accustomed to spending their days in an office were forced to work from home – and this pivot ushered in a transformative (and often heated) debate over whether the office had ever truly served the needs of the employee, and whether a happier, healthier employee might be a more productive one. (Spoiler alert: The answer is yes.)

And while executives and employees alike saw benefits to having an established place to come together and collaborate as a team, there was no going back to our old ways of working. Thus began a collective brainstorm to imagine a better way forward. Over the past year, we’ve seen a wave of ground-breaking ceremonies for new workplaces, where employee well-being and flexibility are as fundamental to the structure as bricks and mortar or glass and steel. The New HQ highlights seven of-the-moment workplaces built for how work gets done now – and in the future.

Why I Chose This Project: If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the past few years, it’s that there is no right answer about how and where people should work. In today’s modern work environment, it’s all about experimentation, flexibility and innovation – and how your team drives outcomes that create value for stakeholders. The ways these organizations are changing how they work not only create a productive and engaging work environment by listening to employees’ needs, but also by fostering a healthy company culture that considers mental, emotional and physical well-being.

The New School at Sundby

Joe Cahill, Chief Customer Officer

In support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, The New School at Sundby focuses on social impact – through its coursework and its physical building – to benefit its students and the community. In addition to an array of sustainable features, the building also has an adaptable interior, meaning the space can evolve in lockstep with the community’s needs.

Why I Chose This Project: The New School will lead the way in how schools talk about sustainability and social impact with their students – and their surrounding communities – for decades to come. Not only does The New School support the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of quality education and sustainable cities and communities through its physical structure and coursework, but the school also supports the UN’s goal of industry, innovation and infrastructure. The world as we know it is constantly evolving – and so are our needs. With this building’s adaptable interior, future generations will have the opportunity to innovatively reconfigure the space so the building can evolve to meet the changing needs of the community. We must all work toward a more sustainable future, and this project gives me hope that more buildings will be designed with sustainability and future generations in mind.

Machine Learning Bootcamp

Dave Garrett, Chief Strategy and Growth Officer

Rather than just investing in the latest tech, this organization is also betting big on its people. In 2021, in partnership with an artificial intelligence consultancy, these organizations created an eight-week Machine Learning Bootcamp – the first of its kind in the industry. Covering the foundations of data science, coding, machine learning and agile, and taking a deep dive into use case specifics, this bootcamp provided an upskilling opportunity for employees at all levels of the organization.

Why I Chose This Project: Digital transformation is key to organizational success – we know this. But digital transformation is also equally important for leaders to show that they value their employees. One way to do this is through upskilling opportunities. With the Machine Learning Bootcamp, this organization created a digital enterprise office and scaled its use of digital tools and machine learning across the organization to encourage an agile and digital-first mindset in its employees. This project is just the beginning as more organizations will likely move toward upskilling and reskilling their employees from within, ultimately helping employees to both further understand and embrace perpetual transformation in an evolving work environment.

Simplicity Sprint

Kerman Kasad, Vice President, Global Communications & Brand

To help spur innovation and growth, this organization’s project set out to gather insights from all employees over a two-week period. The Simplicity Sprint eschews the usual employee survey questions in favor of more philosophical ones: What would help you work with greater clarity and efficiency to serve our users and customers? If an employee’s idea rises to the top, it earns them a chat with senior staff, in a radical upending of the typical top-down decrees of the tech world.

Why I Chose This Project: With continuous rapid changes in the ways we work, it’s no surprise that global organizations are looking at how they interact with their employees and, in turn, how their employees are looking at company culture. What Simplicity Sprint did for this organization can spark real change, impact and clarity for others. Often, leaders turn to their closest and most trusted employees to help make decisions and enhance the organization’s bottom line. But what happens when you ask those employees who are on the frontlines – the ones leading and driving change for the organization? As Simplicity Sprint demonstrates, this is where leaders can turn a moment of organizational uncertainty into positive change – and a more positive company culture.

Las Americas Social Housing

Mary Pat Kessler, Vice President, Global Engagement

In León, México, unchecked urban sprawl has increasingly pushed housing to the edges of the city – isolating residents from core infrastructure. Las Americas Social Housing took a different approach, however, and delivered a high-density housing structure that evokes the privacy residents crave. Backed by the government, this US$2.5 million project could serve as a template for future affordable-housing developments that helps foster community connections.

Why I Chose This Project: One of the most natural elements of our humanity is our longing for connection. That’s why I’m inspired by Las Americas Social Housing and the vital work they are doing in the urban development space to create affordable, sustainable and equitable housing for people in León, México. When it comes to urban development, we often think about revitalizing cities for a new age, including new technology and people movement. While those are important facets of urban development, we must also remember that it is our duty to prioritize the well-being of our fellow humans, which is exactly what the project team behind Las Americas Social Housing did. I’m looking forward to seeing how other urban areas replicate this model to enhance the lives of people in all corners of the world.

Store of the Future

Sierra Hampton Simmons, Vice President, Products

Ecommerce, it’s often lamented, has ushered in the slow death of the shopping mall. Well, not if Emirates developer Majid Al Futtaim has anything to say about it – joining forces with a U.S. tech giant to create a new kind of brick-and-mortar retail space. Staking out a prime spot at Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates, Store of the Future opened in January, awash in next-gen sensors, cameras and AI tech, welcoming each guest and collecting data throughout their journey to respond with customized recommendations and interactions. And to make sure those experiences never feel stale, the developer shares data with the rotating band of brands occupying the space – offering insights on everything from dwell times and footfall heatmaps to sentiment analysis and store capacity.

Why I Chose This Project: Many believe that technology and digital transformation are the end of the business world as we’ve known it. However, the team behind Store of the Future is proving that we can evolve alongside technology by focusing on where we’ve been and where we want to go, in addition to how to marry technology with our former and current ways of working. Furthermore, capitalizing on advanced data collection and analytics allows us to ensure we are continually evolving even after we have mastered an advanced project, like Store of the Future. I am amazed by the smart, future-focused work behind this project, proving that there truly is no limit to what we can do when we combine technology and the human spirit for innovation.

Pierre Le Manh headshot

Pierre Le Manh
President & CEO | PMI

Pierre Le Manh is the President & Chief Executive Officer of the Project Management Institute. As a global executive with a multi-cultural background, Pierre Le Manh brings a proven track record of delivering results and guiding organizations through complex transformations. He is passionate about leading teams in innovating and creating new ways to disseminate specialized knowledge, upskilling and education.

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