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From Electrician to Researcher: Dr Glen Jordan's Journey and Leadership Framework for Industry 4.0

We are thrilled to present our esteemed doctoral alumnus, Dr Glen Jordan, engaging in a conversation with DaVinci about his remarkable career and academic path. Dr Jordan graciously imparts wisdom and guidance for individuals aspiring to embark on the challenging yet rewarding journey of education and personal development. Delving into the origins of his thesis and its core essence, Dr Jordan sheds light on the intricacies of his research. Join us in this enlightening Q&A session to gain insights from one of our remarkable alumni, whose passion for co-creation, exploration, and solution-oriented thinking resonates profoundly throughout this compelling discourse...

Please give us a brief overview of your career to date

First, allow me to express my gratitude to God for blessing me with a career and guiding me on this journey. I initially began my career as an electrician, undergoing training and obtaining a technical diploma. Subsequently, I transitioned into the teaching profession as a technical teacher, gaining valuable insights into the social realities of the communities surrounding the school where I taught.

In 1995, I joined Eskom Distribution as a technician and swiftly became part of the project management community within the Eskom Distribution Business. Throughout this period, I dedicated much of my time to managing projects that involved electrifying households in various communities across the Free State, Northern Cape, North-West, and later the East Rand. This afforded me the opportunity to engage with diverse stakeholders both within and outside of Eskom, providing me with a profound understanding of the lived experiences of communities lacking access to electricity.

I held different positions in the project management environment, ranging from Project Manager and Programme Manager to Middle Manager, Portfolio Manager and Project Execution. In 2012, I joined the Eskom Project Management Office as the Chief Advisor for Project Management and later assumed the role of manager for the Compliance and Advisory Section. In this department, I gained experience in organizational project management, collaborating with various project actors across all Eskom divisions.

Your thesis is entitled: A Leadership Framework to Re-configure the Project Management Office in ESKOM to Embrace Project Management for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Please provide us with a blurb on the purpose of your research and its contribution

With all the advanced project management software, tools, and technology available to project managers today, projects are still failing alarmingly. The well-reported project failures in South Africa, which ran over budget and behind schedule as well as the quality issues experienced on some of them, include:

I. The Gauteng Freeway Improvement Programme cost R17.4-billion rather than the R11.4-billion initially estimated.

II. The Gautrain budget increased from an original estimate of R6.8-billion to R25.2-billion.

III. The capital cost of Transnet’s New Multi-Product Pipeline grew from an estimated R12.7-billion to R30.4-billion.

IV. Eskom’s Medupi and Kusile projects surged from initial estimates of R70-billion and R80-billion respectively, to R208-billion-plus for Medupi and about R240-billion for Kusile (Watermeyer and Phillips, 2020).

The world is now operating in the industry 4.0 economy which calls for a business model that embeds strong project management methodologies and techniques, supported by strong leadership initiatives to increase project management as a core competency (Steyn and Zovitsky, 2018).

Many organisations, including Eskom, have implemented an Enterprise Program Management Office (EPMO) to improve their project management performance. However, the phenomena observed by the researcher is the EPMO’s lack of authority exacerbated by a lack of collaboration and engagement between the Senior Managers in the Eskom Program Management Office and the Senior Managers in the Eskom Distribution Asset Creation Offices, leading to the poor adoption of the Eskom Deliver Project Methodology by the Distribution Offices. If this lack of authority and poor level of collaboration between Senior Managers that is hampering the adoption of the Deliver Project methodology within the Distribution business remains unchanged, project performance will remain stagnant.

This research investigated the linkages between the EPMO and the Distribution Project Offices that are influencing the poor adoption of the Eskom Deliver Project Methodology by the Distribution Business, with the aim to develop a leadership framework to re-configure the Eskom Project Management office to prepare Eskom Distribution for project management in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

There has not been much research focusing on developing a leadership framework for transforming the traditional Project Management Office (PMO) to prepare organisations for project management in Industry 4.0 in the South African context. This research aims to fill that vacuum. The research will also contribute to the limited research (Tsaturyan and Müller, 2015) conducted on the linkages between the EPMO and multiple Project Offices from a practitioner’s perspective. The major contribution of this study is the development of a leadership framework which can be used as a guide to assist State-Owned Entities in transforming their traditional project management offices into Flexible project management offices to respond to the disruption of project management in Industry 4.0.

What would you say your three greatest attributes or characteristics are as a person that aided you on your journey?

Humility – To stay humble. Emotional intelligence – To accept criticism from examiners no matter how harsh. Honesty – Be honest and truthful to yourself and others.

In a few words, describe your journey to completing your qualification

It was a long and lonely journey; a tough journey as I was far from my supervisor and had to travel from Bloemfontein to Witbank if I wanted to have a face-to-face session with him. However, this journey increased my humility, increased my perseverance, and increased my understanding of the research process.

How did your journey impact your way of thinking and (or) life?

To accept that there are multiple realities out there and those realities need to be understood and should be respected. The DaVinci Institute’s TIPS™ Managerial Leadership Framework has made a huge impact on my work life.

What is next for you on your path of remarkability?

I am planning to increase my presence in the organisational project management research fraternity.

If you could give advice to a student embarking on this journey, what would you say?

Understand the process as being a marathon and not a sprint. Collaborate with your peers and Lectures. Foster a good professional relationship with your academic supervisor. Attend as much research and writing workshops as you can. Ask for assistance.


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