Percy Tawanda Ngwerume
MSc in Project Management, UL
Percy works for SAfAIDS in Zimbabwe. He received a fellowship award in 2016-17 to study on the MSc in Project Management at the University of Limerick.
I am a senior development officer with SAfAIDS focused on development work, so before I came to Ireland I was responsible for the design and implementation of community projects around sexual reproductive health and HIV prevention. I coordinated projects across six countries.
I came to Ireland to study project management because of my role as a project manager. My undergraduate degree was focused on development studies, but I needed to master project management. I didn’t have the in-depth theoretical knowledge that I need.
I chose this particular course in the University of Limerick because there are aspects of the course that are so unique and which I value – issues around project governance; issues around people and behaviour; and also it links projects to strategy.
My insight on project management has already expanded – first, understanding where projects fit within a strategy environment; second, appreciation of people management. When I did project management back home, the people management skills were based only on experience, but now I have the theoretical basis to link people management and project strategy.
I have also learned useful skills already. For example, the skill of knowledge management has been a unique exposure for me. We had a module on knowledge management, and the focus is around using IT – using software packages – to effectively manage knowledge. This is something that has been lacking from my organisation, and I feel that I can definitely take this forward and advocate for them to create a knowledge portal.
Other than my studies, adjusting to life in Ireland has been a different experience. Initially, before I even got on the plane, I felt it would be difficult to adjust. But once I came to Limerick – people are friendly, interact freely – I think it’s been a good experience.
I know I will miss the cultural diversity here when I return home. We have more than 10 nationalities in my class alone, and that experience opens your eyes. You begin to understand what happens in different environments, how people work in different contexts. That’s what I’ll miss – being able to link with different cultures.
When I go back to Zimbabwe, I will look at project management in my organisation. We have basically been focused on the Logical Framework Approach where you put in place an approach to a project and start to look at targets. But here I have learned more about tools you can use to measure project performance, and how to track and monitor it. This is something that I will try to introduce when I return to my organisation.
Looking to the future, the number of developmental challenges in Zimbabwe around health and HIV prevention are so many, and my hope is that we get to a stage where the development work that has been done can culminate in a situation where we can significantly reduce the disease battle that the country is facing. If we have less people contracting HIV, and a reduction in the prevalence of HIV, for me that’s a good starting point.
But I want to see more investment in the use of technology. One thing I’ve noted about Ireland beyond the classroom is that there is a strong environment for promoting start-ups in the technology field. In my country, we do not have enough investment in this area. So I am interested in linking technology firms here with the development sector or other commercial sectors in my country to see how we can link technology and development work.