Project Management Institute

Exit Plan

U.K. Project Professionals Reflect on How They're Preparing for Various Brexit Outcomes

Brexit opinions in the United Kingdom are evolving right alongside shifting potential outcomes. Project professionals across the U.K. weigh in on how it could impact projects—and their careers. Let the weatherproofing begin.

Respondents ranked their outlook on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the least optimistic and 10 being the most optimistic.




Brexit optimism rating


“From an economic perspective, Brexit will have a detrimental impact on the U.K. economy. However, as project management consultants, we have to be adaptable. In my own career, I see both pros and cons. This effectively is just a large-scale change—although it may be the largest many practitioners have faced. The underlying principles remain the same—risk mitigation options are still mitigate, avoid, transfer or accept.

I believe change managers will be highly sought after. Demand for agile practitioners should continue to grow as well, provided the economic impacts don't stop companies from spending.”

—Niki Singh, program management consultant, PMI Global Executive Council member FedEx, Coventry, England

Brexit optimism rating: 3


“I work in a freelance capacity, which involves a degree of risk management anyway, so I haven't made any additional plans around Brexit. If anything, uncertainty usually proves beneficial for freelancers because companies don't want to commit to hiring permanent staff.

I could see there being a language skills shortage. The number of British people learning foreign languages at college or university has dropped significantly, and we rely on our European neighbors to fill that gap.”

—Natalie Payne, PMP, freelance localization project manager, Apple, London, England

Brexit optimism rating: 5


“Our research* indicates an increase in the recruitment of project managers in Ireland and Northern Ireland as a result of Brexit. Any form of large-scale complex change is good for career development in project management, as it provides new learning experiences and enhances skill sets. Brexit has increased the demand for portfolio management through an intense focus on ‘whole organization’ impact and change. Organizations are also investing in change management and communication skills as these are critical to a successful Brexit transition.”

—Peter Glynne, co-chair, Joint All Ireland Brexit Working Group, Dublin, Ireland

Brexit optimism rating: 6

*Research comes from the Joint All Ireland Brexit Working Group, an initiative from the PMI United Kingdom Chapter (Northern Ireland Branch) and the PMI Ireland Chapter.

Brexit Realities


Portion of CFOs in the U.K. who believe the U.K.'s withdrawal from the European Union will hamper the long-term business environment

1.7 million

businesses in the U.K. have tabled IT, digital and technology projects amid Brexit uncertainty.

£27 billion

Total value of halted IT projects

Sources: Deloitte CFO Survey: 2019 Q1, Deloitte, 2019; Survey of Business Leaders, Beaming and Opinium, 2019



“I believe Brexit brings both great opportunity and some significant challenges for the project management profession, especially in the short- to medium-term. Projects spanning the U.K. and the European Union will become more complex, consequently increasing the requirement for project, change, risk and legal compliance experts to help sail these murky waters without running adrift. On the flip side, there may be fewer projects, but this is still conjecture. Project managers who are flexible may thrive.

As there is no precedent for Brexit, worst-case scenarios may well be used as the baseline for future inference.”

—Maryna van Harmelen, PMP, technical project manager, PMI Global Executive Council member KPMG, London, England

—Maryna van Harmelen, PMP, KPMG, London, England

Brexit optimism rating: 7


“Brexit is affecting my career in a positive way. Due to the political split, lots of changes are happening or are about to happen. Change is the powering engine for program management, and we've got all the reasons to imagine program management jobs will be in ever-increasing demand from now on. Within these ever-changing environments, it's a program manager's job to get all these never-stopping programs properly planned and completed.”

—Sandro Gasparoto, PgMP, operational director, Orange Business Services, London, England

Brexit optimism rating: 8


“I came to the U.K. from Brazil in September 2017, just after the decision to exit the European Union. I think my move from Brazil demonstrates that my career wasn't affected, but I think it is already preventing other people from applying for opportunities in the U.K. My personal impression is that the U.K. will feel the impact more with jobs that are less skilled, such as construction jobs. It won't affect the market for project management.”

—Luiz Andre Dias, PMP, PgMP, lead portfolio manager, Department for Work and Pensions, Government of the U.K., Newcastle, England

Brexit optimism rating: 10


“For most project managers running Brexit projects, it is business as usual with no career impact.

Project managers will need to establish a deep understanding of how Brexit will affect business operations and the value chain. They will need to consider (and design) how business processes will change, what systems are required to support those processes, and what people should be in place for the business to compete and prosper in the new world. This is what we do everyday anyway!”

—Alex Sakpoba, freelance project manager, PMI Global Executive Council member BP, London, England

Brexit optimism rating: 10

This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI.



Related Content