Dr Paul Chapman, programme director for MSc, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford tells HT Horizons about the scope and job opportunities of an MSc in Major Programme Management Since this is a part-time programme, what will students be expected to do when classes are not taking place? Is industry training run on a regular basis during the programme?
The programme is designed for practising project managers who have considerable experience in their field. Participants remain in their employment, wherever they are based around the globe, and fly in to attend the modules. Each module is delivered in an intensive four-day block to ensure the minimum amount of time away from work. Between modules, participants undertake personal study and keep in touch with one another through conference calls and email.
Are there any scholarships options available?
Unfortunately there are no scholarships available for the programme. Since candidates remain in their employment throughout, most will pay their fees from their earnings or receive a contribution from their employer.
Is the fee same for European and international students?
Yes, the fees are the same; we do not differentiate between students from Europe and elsewhere. We are keen to recruit a diverse set of students from around the world.
What would the students stand to gain after the completion of the programme?
The MSc in Major Programme Management seeks to help students, upon graduation, overcome the unwelcome reality that major programmes, such as those of infrastructure development, have a tendency for cost and schedule overruns. Data compiled by India’s Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, for instance, shows significant time and cost overruns across a range of major projects valued above Rs 100 crore, and at an overall level, found projects in all but one of the tracked industrial sectors falling behind target.
There would seem to be a great need for the capabilities that the MSc in Major Programme Management seeks to develop in students given that India plans to spend $500 billion (around Rs 23.65 trillion) in the coming years on infrastructure, including roads, railways, power, freshwater and sanitation, and telecoms. The World Bank contrasts India with China, which, it says, “has an enormous and growing advantage in infrastructure”. While the level of investment is an important issue, so is the effectiveness with which programmes and their planned benefits are delivered. One encouraging example of a well-run programme is the Delhi Metro. Phase I of the work provides the rare mix of efficient service at a reasonable tariff, and did so within budget and ahead of schedule. This is a great example to emulate and shows the level of success that needs to be delivered more consistently across India.
For both programmes, did industry play any role in designing of curriculum or in providing the adjunct faculty?
The MSc Major Programme Management has been designed in collaboration with leading practitioners from a range of sectors, many of whom teach the programme alongside the Oxford faculty.
The programme also benefits from close collaboration with the BT Centre for Major Programme Management, which is based at the Saïd Business School and is the only research centre of its kind in the world. This work is supported by Tata Consultancy Services with Mr AS Lakshminarayanan on the advisory board of the BT Centre.
While offering admissions, what exactly do you look for in students? What counts more — experience or academic brilliance?
We take a holistic view of each application we receive, considering both academic background and length and quality of professional experience. All candidates should have a good undergraduate degree and a minimum of seven years’ professional experience. They need to be able to demonstrate a sound understanding of major programme management and a clear enthusiasm for the subject and their own practice.
Tell us something about the uniqueness of this programme?
The premise of the MSc is that major programmes are more than just big projects; they may have budgets that run into billions of pounds, they may last five years or more from concept to completion, and they are likely to see a turnover of project and management staff during their life cycle.
The skills and competencies of project management are a prerequisite for managing these programmes, but they are not sufficient. An extra set of skills is required that is distinct from the traditional practices of project management. The Oxford MSc in Major Programme Management is a part-time, two-year modular programme designed to equip project and programme managers, from both public and private sectors, with the skills necessary to reach the highest level of their careers in programme management, while delivering real value to sponsoring organisations.
Dr Paul Chapman Interviewed by Vimal Joshi