Branch of Power
Sandrine Wamy, PMP, Bolloré Transport & Logistics, Douala, Cameroon
ILLUSTRATION BY CATERINA ZACUTTI
SANDRINE WAMY, PMP
TITLE: Regional CIO
ORGANIZATION: Bolloré Transport & Logistics
LOCATION: Douala, Cameroon
For global organizations, strategic alignment must span the entire enterprise, flowing all the way down to each local site. But after central offices delegate authority, local leaders need to be empowered to do more than follow headquarters’ orders—they need to be innovators in their own right.
Sandrine Wamy provides that vital link for Bolloré Transport & Logistics, a global company based in France that focuses on four lines of business: ports, logistics, railways and energy. With more than 36,500 people across 107 countries, Bolloré leans on Ms. Wamy to ensure 15 subsidiaries in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad and Equatorial Guinea stay on the same page.
As a regional CIO, how do you balance local needs with global strategy?
Most common solutions come from our headquarters in France. But agility is part of our DNA. We try to fit corporate solutions to meet our needs and implement them regionally. Depending on the needs or specificities of the project, we can also design new solutions and propose them to other countries.
How do you ensure your projects stay aligned with the organization's strategy?
I work closely with headquarters, regional management and CEOs of the subsidiaries in the Guinea Gulf region to give them a view of what we're doing at the local level. I regularly report to headquarters and to the African CIO. But written reports can't fully reflect reality, so once a month I meet with my regional top management to go deeper into our projects.
What's an example of a strategic objective and how you've helped achieve it?
The organization wants to become more innovative to better satisfy our customers. So last year, our regional CEO tasked me with launching a project to gather employees’ ideas for innovation. We then asked our employees in Cameroon to provide proposals for projects that would make us more efficient and deliver more value to our revenue-generating clients. Our regional CEO wanted them to realize that they're a key part of the organization—and employees know what our clients want.
So we organized a contest to encourage participation. We thought it would be great if we got 20 ideas. After two months, we received about 100 project proposals. They involved information solutions, human resources, finance, transportation and security. Among the projects submitted was one that recommended the use of a specific type of sensor to optimize our rail wagons’ rotation.
Did Bolloré launch any of these proposals?
The jury committee was supposed to choose only three projects to pursue, but it finally decided to select a dozen, and now we're launching 14 of them, with the committee members as the project sponsors. After that success, headquarters decided to do the same innovation contest in other regions where the company is operating.
What project delivery approaches do your teams use?
Historically, we have used a waterfall approach. But with waterfall, users sometimes have to wait one or two years to see the project's results. In the meantime, their needs might have changed, and then the business always has modifications or additions to the project. So for the past few years, we've been making the case for an agile approach, because we think it leads to faster results and greater client satisfaction. We also use hybrid on some of our application projects: waterfall at the start and then agile to develop and test functionalities in sprints.
How do your teams collaborate with users to make sure projects meet their needs?
We have to ensure our clients are satisfied with the solutions we deliver. This is why we make every effort to involve them at every step of the project. All our steering committees have business managers to make sure we deliver to our clients what they precisely need. Our agile or hybrid projects’ tests always involve our clients. We want them to see projects as their own.
How have you helped bolster your team's project management expertise?
We've been applying PMI's standards for almost 10 years, and now our organization sees us as an experienced project management team. We also offer our team members’ project management training courses so that they can earn the PMI Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification. PM
What one skill should every project manager have?
Communication. Good and regular communication ensures that a project's end result satisfies its stakeholders.
What do you wish you had known at the start of your career?
To learn from both my failures and my successes. To understand why I succeeded or failed in the ways I did.
What's your favorite travel destination?
Paris. When I grew up there, I wanted to travel the world. Now that I live in Cameroon, I can't go more than six months without seeing Paris and my family there.