Sustainability Starts With Project Management! Expert Interview With Joel Carboni

Joel Carboni

JOEL CARBONI advocate for Sustainability in Project Management

Why you should listen to him:

Joel Carboni GPM® IPMA-B® MPM® is the President of GPM Global, a project management professional development organization dedicated to the advancement of project management practices that decouple socio-environmental degradation and economic growth.

He is the author of the PRiSM project method and has over 15 years’ in project and program management, working in both the private and public sectors for organizations in Banking/Finance, Energy, Legal, Technology, as well as local government. Joel currently serves as the director of standards for the asapm (IPMA-USA).


Mirla Ferreira: I think project management is more important now than before, one of the reasons is the responsibility that project manager has about sustainability. What is your perception about sustainability in projects? Why sustainability in projects is so important?

Joel Carboni: In the past two years, the number of Fortune 500 companies that are producing sustainabilty reports, joining the UN Global Compact and or the Global Reporting Initiative has increased dramatically. A study by KPMG in 2012 reported that 62 percent of companies polled have a strategy for corporate sustainability and between 2001 and 2010, an equity portfolio of sustainability leaders outperformed a portfolio of sustainability laggards by more than 30 percent. A similar study by Accenture stated that Sustainability is increasingly being seen as a source—even a primary source—of revenue and business growth for companies intent on becoming high-performance businesses.

I point this out because as indicated in PMI’s Pulse of the Profession, between 2010 and 2020, an estimated 15.7 Million new project management jobs will be added globally, reaching an economic impact of over $18 trillion accross seven project-intensive industries. In the same report it indicates that one of the top three steps to minimize risk is to ensure the alignment of organizational strategy with projects. If corporations are including sustainability as a part of their strategy project management needs to account for it also.

From a more altruistic perspective, our natural resources are diminishing and our population is increasing. Unless as a profession we start to take responsibility in addressing these issues through improved project practices, future generations will not be able to meet their own needs.

Mirla Ferreira: Where to start? How can we integrate sustainability and project management?

Joel Carboni: I think the key is to understand that sustainability [as a practice] is important to projects. When a product or service is conceived and translated into requirements there are social, fiscal, and environment impacts that should be measured and accounted for in terms of development, life-span, servicing, maturity of process, efficiency etc. We call this P5 or People, Planet, Profit, Process and Product.

When a PM looks at how the project and resulting product/service will impact society, the ecological environment, and the fiscal impact [both internal and external], they can more effectively plan risk and develop sustainability objectives. It is also important to understand the organization’s corporate social responsibility policies and ensure that the project aligns with them.

Mirla Ferreira: What is your vision about the future?

Joel Carboni: Sustainability in projects has, up until now, been categorized primarily under personal ethics. In the latest release of the PMI PMBOK(r) Guide, sustainability makes an entrance and the IPMA ICB 3.0 has a competency that includes sustainability elements, however I forsee that in order for sustainability to become common practice, PMs will have to look beyond the constraints of project scope and look at the bigger picture. We see signs that this is occurring more and more. As an organization, we have grown by leaps and bounds and requests for PRiSM (our methodology) have increased among some of the larger companies. From a vision standpoint, I as much as anyone who is an advocate for project management want to see a world with increased project success but with the inclusion of sustainable methods being a key factor.

To Joel Carboni “Sustainability starts with Project Management!”. I agree with him. Projects and products/services have an impact on society and environment.
What do you think? Do you integrate sustainability and project management in your organization? Share your experience.

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Mirla Ferreira

Mirla Ferreira

Project Management Consultant & Trainer at Emeteclass. She focuses on helping companies to implement a consistent Project Management process using international best practices. She also is Co-founder and speaker at The 1st Floor Challenge. Say hi to her anytime @mirlaferreira. Linkedin profile.