PMTips: In today’s interview, we have Rami Kaibni, a Career Coach, Agile Trainer and a certified Senior Portfolio and Project Management Professional with over 15 years of professional experience in Professional Development / Career Coaching, Project Management, Construction Management, and Business Development.

Besides holding a bachelor's degree in Structural Engineering and multiple certifications in the management and business fields, Rami is a member of many global organizations such as Project Management Institute (PMI), Green Project Management (GPM), International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) and many more.  Taking into consideration his international experience with highly reputable organizations and clients, it is our great pleasure to share with you Rami’s expertise about managing high profile projects, mentoring individuals and organizations, and various aspects of portfolio and project management.

Rami, thank you for accepting our invitation. We are happy to have you as a guest and share your knowledge with our readers and listeners.

Rami Kaibni: It is my pleasure being here Julijana, thank you for having me.

 

PMTips: This year you have founded RMK coaching where you provide career mentoring and services such as management consulting, professional development coaching for individuals and for businesses, and certification guidance and training. What was the main inspiration for starting with this business especially in career coaching and what do you expect to achieve in the upcoming period?

Rami Kaibni: I’ve always wanted to establish my own practice in something I am passionate about. You might be surprised but there are lots of individuals who are confused about their career path and others who pursue professional development and end up disappointed afterward because they discover they did not pursue the right professional development. Every person has their own unique path so they should customize their professional development plans to suit their goals. Having worked internationally with individuals and clients from different backgrounds and cultures helped me grow in so many different ways and I am passionate about helping others and guiding them in the right direction.

In the long term, business-wise, I am hoping to establish a strong clientele base and expand my horizon and scope of services, probably do global partnerships with some reputable companies and increase my reach to more countries globally. On a personal level, I am hoping I will be able to help as many people as I can to succeed in their future career, as it will make me proud and gives me satisfaction.

PMTips:  Doing multiple jobs can be challenging hence how do you manage to help clients and companies in each of the services you provide and at your daily job.

Rami Kaibni: Of course, it can be challenging and that’s why being in this line of business and doing what I do require extensive and diversified experience. You can’t learn any of this through a course but from real practical life.

As a Professional Development and Career Coach, I help guide and mentor individuals who are looking for professional development to boost their career, individuals who are considering a career change, new graduates looking for a new job or have an upcoming interview properly prepare and achieve their goals. I also work with organizations to put customized programs for their employees' professional and leadership development.

As an Agile Trainer, I help coach individuals and organization executives and employees in Agile Project Management.

On the other hand, as a Senior Portfolio and Project Manager, I specialize in various aspects of portfolio and project management from initiation, planning, estimation, cost control, execution, to closing. I help clients achieve the desired outcome for their projects.

PMTips: I mentioned at the beginning of the interview that you hold a bachelor’s degree in Structural Engineering and you first started your professional career as a Research and Teaching assistant at the Birzeit University in Palestine. What motivated you to peruse a profession in project management and how did your academic background and experience influence your career as a project manager? 

Rami Kaibni: That is a very interesting question. Having a Structural Engineering degree, I started my career in the construction field designing buildings and then over the first couple of years got involved in the project management side of projects where I found it very interesting and challenging at the same time. Both structural engineering and project management for construction projects complement each other in one way or another.

What makes project management a unique industry from my point of view is the fact that there is no routine. Every day is a different day where you encounter new issues, meet new people, establish connections and every day is an opportunity to learn something new and grow. Which I find very interesting and rewarding. 

PMTips: Rami, there is always a debate about using agile or not. What is your opinion on this and does agile work in the construction / real estate development industry?

Rami Kaibni: I get this question all the time. There is nothing called Agile and No-Agile. An organization should evaluate its portfolios, programs and project then decide what best suits their needs to achieve its strategic goals and objectives.

In the construction industry, I started looking into Agility and how it can be applied to Construction Projects and concluded that while it might not be possible to apply agile purely, agile works well if applied as a hybrid model alongside the waterfall approach.

As a next step, I started looking at the different agile frameworks and came to a conclusion that DSDM is one of the best frameworks that can work perfectly alongside a waterfall approach because it looks at the project lifecycle as a whole, not the development side of it only. This gives more wide-angle and view on the operation, construction, development and design. 

PMTips: Throughout your practice, you have experienced several different positions in the Construction industry. Starting as a Site Engineer to Project Engineer, you have foreseen major projects such as the construction of a Faculty for the Islamic studies inside the premises of Qatar Educational City, the construction of an 8.6 Kilometer long Commercial /Residential Buildings and activities for the development of upstream gas production facilities. Can you share the most common challenges one faces when managing projects of this scope?

Rami Kaibni: Yes, of course. The major challenges that you face on mega projects are communication with stakeholders and subcontractors management. 

On projects of this size, there could be hundreds of communication channels. As project managers, we spend most of our time communicating but one-man shows on such projects don’t work well. There should be a defined and very well detailed communication plan and as a PM you should be able to delegate some of the communication tasks to others as you see fit.

On the other hand, there are many disciplines involved from mechanical, electrical, plumbing, structural and under each discipline, there are multiple subcontractors that at some point in the project will all be operating in parallel which will increase the amount of interface between various disciplines and makes managing all the pieces complex. You need to stay continuously on top of things and effectively / efficiently coordinate between the various disciplines.  It can be challenging if you are not an experienced project manager when managing projects of this size.

PMTips:  What would you say was the most exciting project that you have worked on? During the course of these years, which project affected your professional life the most?

Rami Kaibni: Back in 2005, I had the chance to work for a few years with two of the largest Japanese corporations (Japan Gas Company and Chiyoda). It was a unique working experience, one that I would definitely be proud to share with you.

JGC was our client/owner representative for one of the largest Gas to Liquid Projects in Qatar called: Pearl GTL Project. Frankly speaking, this was the most outstanding management experience I’ve ever had and I learned a lot from it. The project was worth more than $1 Billion US, very complex and running on a tight schedule. 

Over the years, I've dealt with many large international companies from different countries. They were all very professional but dealing with the Japanese took my experience to a totally different level and I wrote a blog about this specific experience which I would like to share with you as well. Their management experience and how they do  their diligence and managing projects are very unique and very well organized. 

PMTips: Rami, which characteristics according to you make an effective project manager. Which traits should be developed by PM professionals in order to have a successful career?

Rami Kaibni: Besides leadership, which goes without saying, the most important traits and skills are soft skills because, besides the fact that they are transferrable regardless of which industry you operate in, you use those skills frequently on daily basis. On the top of the list of those softs skills comes Emotional Intelligence, Decision Making and Effective Communication.

PMTips: Considering your expertise on certification guidance and training in addition to the remarkable certifications that you hold, could you tell us your opinion on how important it is for professionals who are working in project management to acquire various certifications?

Rami Kaibni: Well Juliana, I am an advocate for continuous education and believe that knowledge combined with experience is a recipe for long term success. The knowledge you gain from your experience is limited to that experience and in order to grow, stay up to date, and stand out in your field, you have to do work on expanding your knowledge.

Our world is changing rapidly and new technologies are spreading like fire in a wild bush, and in a competitive field like the project management,  what is more important than reaching the top is staying there and in order to stay there, you need to stay on top of things, up to date with the latest and always work on your professional development.

PMTips: From overseeing various projects and developments, to managing your own consulting platform, there is no doubt that you have an existing career with many undertakings. Are there any next challenges that you would like to tackle down in the near future?

Rami Kaibni: I am always on the go hunting for opportunities. At the moment, I will be concentrating on growing my own business that I recently officially launched but will always be open to opportunities should they present themselves.

PMTips: Rami on another note, In addition to your professional activities as a career coach and project management professional, you are a volunteer member for the Global Goodwill Ambassadors Foundation where you serve as a Global Goodwill Ambassador (GGA) for Canada. Can you tell us more about why you volunteer and how has your volunteering experience affected you as an individual? 

Rami Kaibni: I volunteer with many organizations and within the community. I believe in giving back to the community and to the profession, I believe in kindness and humanity.

Coming from a developing country, I know what it means when you are confused and need guidance/help especially when you are a new graduate or at a crossroad and critical spot in your life. I learned things the hard way and I am passionate about what I do so I always like to help others because seeing the people around me succeed motivates me. Kindness needs no reason or season and I try my best to always be there for others who are in need, not only on a professional level but on a personal level as well.

PMTips: Rami that is a very noble point of view. To continue further I would like to ask you if you have any book recommendations for our listeners?

Rami Kaibni: I do and they might not be directly related to project management but those two books made a big difference for me.

The first is Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne While this book is not directly related to Agile but I find the way it explains how to create a market space for your company and make the competition irrelevant somehow an indirect Agile Mindset. It makes you stand out of the competition. The mindset they use in the book it's really very interesting book and I really really really recommend for people to build especially those entrepreneurs who are starting their new companies. 

The other books that I would recommend is a story-based book it's called The Monk who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma. This is a great book and can change people's way of thinking and it is as well, indirectly related to the Agile mindset. Amongst many things you will learn from this book are two very important ones.

  • Exchange money for something meaningful = VALUE
  • Always have space to accommodate new ideas: ADAPT to CHANGE

Those two are really core values in agile.

PMTips: Rami, the very end of this interview, what is your message to professionals who are at the very start of their careers in project management?

Rami Kaibni: In the project management field, if you want to succeed and excel, you need to climb the ladder step by step. Education provides you with the theoretical background while hands-on experience equips you with the practical experience where you start making sense of designs, estimates, timelines so when you move to a higher role such as Development, Portfolio or Program Manager roles, you can add value from your expertise and best serve your clients. So I advise people especially new practitioners not to rush to take to enjoy the learning experience and go up the ladder step by step while benefiting from each step so you can build a strong foundation.

PMTips: Rami, thank you for your time and your fruitful answers. It was a pleasure talking to you.

Rami Kaibni: Thank you very much the pleasure is all mine and again, thanks for having me.