The people behind the roles: meet our President!

Behind the Roles

In the first of a series of board member interviews, find out why Saskia Van Dyck loves being part of the Luxembourg chapter, what impact the pandemic has had on day-to-day chapter life and what else she is passionate about.

Watch the video interview!

Saskia Van Dyck

Question: Can you briefly explain how the chapter is organized?
The chapter is registered in Luxembourg as an asbl (“not-for-profit" organisation) with the objective of promoting and supporting the practice of Project Management as well as promoting training and certifications related to the profession.

The chapter members elect a Board of Directors (BoD) composed of volunteers, who do the work required to serve the members and the purpose of the association. To do so, the BoD work along a yearly cycle of observing current and past performance and members’ feedback, incorporating these learnings into a new plan that is aligned with PMI’s strategic goals and approved by PMI centrally. Finally, the BoD execute the plan and continue collecting feedback for the next cycle.

Much of the operational work is carried out by additional (non-elected) volunteers, some of whom evolve into a leading role in their area and eventually become candidates for an elected seat on the BoD.

Question: How has the pandemic changed the life and functioning of the chapter and what has been the biggest challenge?
Hmmm, not sure about the past tense in this question, it is still a challenge today 😉.

Early March we were preparing a workshop with guest speakers from Italy. As Italy was already battling the virus outbreak, we cancelled that event and naively thought we would reschedule for April. A week later, lockdown was introduced in Luxembourg, and we all needed to find a new normal and had no mental space for the life of the chapter. Some of our volunteers lost their job, others had to home-school children while working full-time and many of them could no longer handle volunteering any more.

With less time and fewer people available to do the work, we had to re-invent member value and how to deliver it without being able to get together physically. We switched to virtual events with webcasts, webinars and even a week-long conference in September. But since our day-job happens mostly in virtual meetings, many of us tire of being behind a screen and we don’t feel like even more screen-time after work. We have offered way more hours of content this year than the same time last year, however we are not reaching as many members as in the past. The truth is that we find it very difficult to differentiate our chapter value proposition from the vast offering of webinars already on offer by PMI, without being able to meet with our members.

I also realized that it was the member meetings with personal interactions that used to give me satisfaction and energized me in my own volunteering experience with PMI. I will admit that running the chapter without this personal contact is challenging my leadership skills and requires resilience.

There you go: volunteering with PMI offers so much potential for learning and practicing new skills, that will be my silver lining of the pandemic-cloud!

Question: PMI has recently completed a major rebranding. Can you tell us more about the reasons behind the change and the new chapter logo?
I like how you ask the question, because change is what the brand refresh is all about. We needed a brand refresh that would position PMI for its next decades of leadership as we strengthen society, enable organizations and empower individuals to turn ideas into reality.

Because it is so visual, you might think that our new logo, colours, typography and symbols are the “new brand.” But these images are only a visual representation of our new brand position, representing how PMI, 50 years after its foundation, is adapting to a changing world – we call it the “Project Economy”. PMI powers The Project Economy, strengthening society by enabling organisations and empowering people to make ideas a reality.

As so often when change is introduced, there is great controversy over the design and colour of the new logo. Whereas there will never be unanimity about a logo’s design, there should be unanimity about the need to evaluate and adapt your skills to new trends. If you used the same tools, methods and practices managing your projects for more than 10 years, you would be obsolete, you need change.

Along with the new logo and graphics, there are 10 unique symbols that make up the language of The Project Economy that represent some of the characteristics needed to be successful in the future. These are Collaboration, Determination, Change, Innovation, Teamwork, Outcomes, Growth, Vision, Community and Philanthropy.

Question: For you personally, what is the best part about being a chapter member?
Being with PMI has different aspects for me: I have been a “simple” member, participated in panel discussions, volunteered as an event organizer, and I have held 3 roles on the Board so far. I have experienced positives in every role, but most of all on the Board, as that has held the biggest potential for me to feel I can give something back to the community. I am passionate about project management and all the soft power skills that the future PM will need so much more than the technical ones (which will largely be replaced by AI). With 30 years' experience, I am at that stage in my career where I want to share, give back, coach the next generation to be the brilliant leaders of the future. Driving the chapter forward, making sure we deliver pieces of the puzzle that our members need for their personal and professional growth, gives me a huge amount of satisfaction.

Question: Let's get a bit more personal: Apart from project management, what are you passionate about?
Cooking! I am a true foodie. I love to eat well and feed others, and I also love cooking my food myself. I experiment with all types of cuisine, and my favourites are French classics and South-East Asian curries. During lockdown I experimented making my own fresh Italian pasta although I am not sure if that was up to the standards of Eloise, our Director of Volunteers, who is also a passionate cook and has Italian roots! I taught both my children to cook from their young teenage years onwards, which turned my son into my toughest critic but also a very good cook, as is my daughter.

Question: Who is your role model (in whatever sense you wish)?
I have no role model, sorry to disappoint you! I believe in a set of values that drive me, a combination from my upbringing and life experience. I believe in kindness, integrity and respectful tolerance. In my experience, if you go through life with these in mind, most people mirror that behaviour and the world feels like a better place.

Question: Where would you like to go on a dream vacation?
My dream vacation could take me to a lot of places, mostly in Europe but also in Africa. I have never been to the North of Europe (blame it on the weather, I like to be sure to get warmth and sun on my holidays). I fell in love with South Africa (and the animals) and would like to discover more of the continent. I enjoyed traveling to Italy and would also like to discover the islands in the Mediterranean Sea. So many places… but what is certain is that wherever I go, a big part of discovering the country and culture will be through the local cuisine, and coming back home to try and reproduce it in my own kitchen!

The people behind the roles: meet our President

In the first of a series of board member interviews, find out why Saskia Van Dyck loves being part of the Luxembourg chapter, what impact the pandemic has had on day-to-day chapter life and what else she is passionate about.