Long before his career in pharmaceuticals took off, Kamil Mroz understood the power of projects to change lives. After jobless rates skyrocketed across Europe during the 2008 global economic meltdown, Mroz led a group of volunteers from Junior Chamber International to help young professionals in Belgium rebuild. His team created a career workshop series featuring speakers and human resources specialists giving feedback on résumés and CVs, then scaled and exported the model to other countries.
Turning obstacles into opportunities fuels Mroz. While working for pharma engineering firm NNE in 2014, he was part of a team responsible for the delivery of critical bioengineering equipment for GSK’s €340 million poliovirus vaccine production plant in Belgium. Now working for global biopharma UCB, he’s a director for strategic programs and projects.
“How do we drive project success in today’s rapidly changing environment, while companies expect us to do more with less? Today’s project managers have to learn on the fly, cope with business turmoil and balance agility with quality.”
That requires a certain resourcefulness.
“It’s the ability to think creatively and to stimulate, evaluate and act upon ideas. This mindset enables a project team to be open and change-oriented,” he says. “Although the project conditions may sometimes be daunting beyond belief, the project managers that live up to the challenge inspire others to do the same.”
And project managers shouldn’t feel like they’re in it alone, Mroz says. “Success in this globalized world truly depends upon their ability to embrace diversity and harness the benefits of intergenerational and global project teams.”
“Today’s project managers have to learn on the fly, cope with business turmoil and balance agility with quality.”
Q&A: Kamil Mroz on leadership, professional recognition and Steve Jobs
What’s the most influential project you've worked on?
I worked on a new GSK manufacturing facility destined to produce a polio vaccine. Being able to be part of the project team was really satisfying, especially in the context of knowing this project will help protect many people.
What’s the one must-have skill to succeed in The Project Economy?
Leadership. Simply put, a leader is like a musical conductor who orchestrates and extracts the best traits out of each team member to make the most of the performance.
What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
Early on in my career, I received two important professional recognitions, including PMI Young Professional Award in 2019. These awards catapulted my project management career, which enabled me to share my experiences with the next generation of project managers and become an ambassador of the profession.
What’s your philosophy for leading projects?
Trust in project management makes the team more productive and enables people to rely on others. For a project manager and team member, it means working effectively in a collaborative environment where ideas and knowledge are shared openly.
What famous or historic person would you want on your project team?
Steve Jobs viewed the development of Apple’s products as something that must be truly collaborated on at a cross-functional level, with a deep customer-centric approach. He made sure to meet with key players from all departments—which communicated the importance of their contribution to the end product, while arousing the curiosity of those who would eventually buy the product. Having him on the team would surely mean success as a project, and final product or service.