Médecins sans Frontières – A 5-year journey implementing an activist PMO in an activist organization

Speaker: Robin-Vincent Smith, Programme, Change and Knowledge Manager, Médecins sans Frontières

Robin will briefly introduce MSF and its work in Greece https://msf.gr/ . He will then walk through his 5-year odyssey implementing an activist Project Management Office in an activist organization; the milestones covered, the investment made, the value derived. This presentation will provide you with great insights on how to implement an activist PMo and maintain a dynamic project management mindset.  Robin will provide you with information on how to benchmark organizational project management maturity and how to use the lens of Kotter’s 8-steps organization change.  Using this model you will delve into: creating urgency by discovering drivers to implement a PMO, forming a power powerful coalitions, communicating with vision, empowering action, creating quick wins, building on change, making it stick by balancing push and pull tactics.

Robin Vincent-Smith graduated in Modern Languages and worked as an Expedition Leader before joining Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) in 2003. He spent several years in the field (Ethiopia, Congo, Chad, South Africa, Liberia, etc) in Logistics and Tuberculosis Infection Control before returning to Belgium to work as Logistics Training Officer and raise a family. In 2013 he started a 6-year mandate as Programme, Change and Knowledge Manager for the General Directorate of MSF Operational Center Brussels with the objectives of implementing a Programme Management Office incorporating Change Management and increasing organizational Knowledge Management maturity.


Enhanced business support for Business Analysis and Portfolio Management using sophisticated tools

Speaker: John Waring, Programmes and Projects Management Officer (PMO) at the European Defence Agency (EDA)

Obtaining real-time project management status data and Key Performance Indicators allows for informed decision making using time-sensitive information. Obtaining this data also aids the early identification of issues, risks or trends and prompt management consideration.  This is a challenge in the case of organisations operating on a ‘hub and spoke’ model where projects are possibly being executed in a location remote from the centre of decision making and where such information is required by sponsors.

A combination of a Portfolio and Project Management (PPM) system to input key data and track project or programme progress with a Business Intelligence system to portray and visualise real-time data allows for effective and timely decision making. The agility comes from the customisation of reports in relation to organisational construct and the provision of real-time information from remote locations to the point of need.

John Waring will portray how this has been achieved in an EU agency setting and how it may be applicable to other business constructs whether they be geographically remote or composed of different business units.  He will provide us with insights on:

  • Customisation and use of a PPM system to track project progress and obtain key management data.
  • Integration of a PPM system with a Business Intelligence application to present key management data.
  • How reports may be customized to individual requirements.
  • How this time-sensitive data may be made available in geographically diverse business settings.

John WARING is the Programmes and Projects Management Officer (PMO) at the European Defence Agency (EDA).  He created the PMO function on joining the Agency in 2016 and is accountable for programme and project governance cutting across all aspects of EDA activity in a European and international defence setting.  His role includes coordinating, developing and reporting on yearly programmes, strategic plans and annual project budgets as well as tender evaluation and implementing a project tracking system and associated business intelligence.  Previously John was a Crisis Response Planner within the Military Staff of the European Union; this role was the culmination of a 26-year career within the UK Royal Navy where he has run projects as diverse as developing an in-country salvage diving capability for the Mauritanian coastguard to providing a leadership training initiative for the Palestinian police and security services.          


How to say "This is crap" in different languages

Speaker:  Mike Robbs, Business English & Communications Coach, Hellenic American Union

More and more often we work with colleagues from different cultural backgrounds. As a project manager, learning how to navigate difficult conversations and to provide critique across cultures can be challenging, and there are many important differences to consider. This talk will help you face these challenges head-on, no matter who you’re working with. 

Michael Robbs is a Business English coach and teacher trainer for the Hellenic American Union. In his long career he has successfully coached many different types of people and has developed a way of motivating each individual student to achieve their best, making him and the HAU the leading educators of business professionals in Athens. 




Strengths and weaknesses of the "notorious" Risk Matrix: One size does not fit all

Speaker: Ilias Katsagounos, Training Manager, e-training & Communications, European Security and Defense College

One of the principal tools that we use during the imperative and indispensable qualitative risk analysis is the Risk Matrix.

  • How sure are we that we ‘re using it the right way?
  • Are there any covert traps behind it?
  • Do we know how to identify them and bypass them, or do we just create new “unknown unknown” risks just by analyzing the existing “known unknown” ones?

By GOOGLE-ing “Risk Matrix” or “P*I Matrix”, we come across numerous tutorial-styled articles (not to mention books and guides) that present it as a very intuitive and easy to apply tool. In many cases, and primarily in small and/or relatively easy projects, this perception is quite valid, but there exist cases where oversimplification can become detrimental, given it conveys erroneous messages concerning the risks at hand.   Through the use of a workshop environment, we will try to unveil the hidden aspects and the true strengths of the Risk Matrix, along with its connection with its real partner, the Risk Log. This workshop is addressed to Program and Project Managers, Risk Managers and Business Analysts.

What  you will gain

  • The sequence of steps that should be followed during risk analysis and prioritization
  • The customization that the risk matrix should undergo in order to comply with the company’s risk profile (attitude).

Ilias Katsagounos is an active Military Officer with a growth mindset and proven, 25 years of experience in personnel development, team building and operational capacity enhancement. He is a fervid advocate of the “lateral thinking” approach in all aspects of the decision making procedure.  He holds a Masters Degree in techno-economic systems and is currently engaged as a PhD candidate focusing his research on the optimal manipulation of a medium to small number of experts in order to derive to accurate probabilistic forecasts for events with limited historical data.  He is also a certified Project and Risk Management Professional (PMP, PMI/RMP) providing his services, for more than 10 years, at various public and private sector companies as instructor/consultant in the aforementioned fields of expertise.  Currently he is working as a National Expert at the European Security and Defense College (ESDC) in Brussels and he is refocusing his project management approaches by immersing in the new PM2 world.


A chameleon without borders – helping Médecins sans Frontières to become a learning organization

Speaker: Robin-Vincent Smith, Programme, Change and Knowledge Manager, Médecins sans Frontières

Robin will present a 5-year story of how the strategic positioning of the 'knowledge manager' role at the intersection between those responsible for organizational culture, digital workplace, learning & development and internal communication led Médecins sans Frontières to become (more of) a learning organization. He will introduce a simple, open-source tool for benchmarking organizational knowledge management maturity, and participants will take 5 minutes to fill it in for their organisation, followed by debate.

What you will gain

By attending this presentation you will gain insights on:

  • Benchmarking organizational knowledge management maturity
  • Quick wins to become more of a learning organization


  • How to build a framework and alliances, then leverage them opportunistically (instead of building a strategy, department, masterplan, empire… )
  • How to launch small but scalable initiatives locally, on other peoples budget, and grow ‘by excitement’ - value-appreciation (instead of ‘Waterfall’, ICT driven, hierarchical, centralised, costly projects)

Robin Vincent-Smith graduated in Modern Languages and worked as an Expedition Leader before joining Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) in 2003. He spent several years in the field (Ethiopia, Congo, Chad, South Africa, Liberia, etc) in Logistics and Tuberculosis Infection Control before returning to Belgium to work as Logistics Training Officer and raise a family. In 2013 he started a 6-year mandate as Programme, Change and Knowledge Manager for the General Directorate of MSF Operational Center Brussels with the objectives of implementing a Programme Management Office incorporating Change Management and increasing organizational Knowledge Management maturity. 


Benefits Management

Speaker: George Merguerian, Global Business Management Consultants

This interactive workshop will present where company’s stand in achieving benefits of their projects using internationally gathered data. Benefits Management is seen as the “weak” link in project and program management as not all companies measure the success of their projects after closure as identified in the Business Case. The presentation will subsequently provide a process for benefits management that ensures the successful implementation of a project’s  or program’s goals in an organisation’s mainstream operations. The workshop will provide examples of Metrics that can be used for projects, Benefits Implementation monitoring approaches, roles and responsibilities definition and other best practices. The session will use slides, interactive discussions and practice workshops.

What you will gain

  • Learn how to manage change and benefits of projects and
  • Learn how to manage the implementation of the Project’s results in the organization


  • The Business Case of a Project and Benefits Management
  • Challenges in introducing change  in an organization considering that implementing the project results would mean changes
  • How to deal with Change
  • How to make a successful business implementation plan
  • How to manage benefits of a project

George Merguerian, is Senior Partner and Management Consultant at Global Business Management Consultants (GBMC). He has 30 years experience in managing large scale and other projects, programs and operations  in Europe, Asia, the Middle-East and North America. George has expert knowledge in management areas like strategy development and execution, portfolio development and management, risk management and productivity improvement. George’s clients include the European Commission, EASA, NATO, the European Defence Agency, Fusion for Energy, ABB, Actelion, AGC Auromotive, Air Liquide, Ashland, Atos Origin, BIC, Biomet, Carmeuse, Coca Cola, CCHBC, Conference Board, DSM, IDF, Idorsia, FMC, Goodyear, GSK, Diversey, Idorsia, Infineum, Intrasoft, Ipsen, Leaseplan, LJA Engineering, Médecins sans Frontiéres, Hexion, Omron, Pliva-Teva, QAD, Schlumberger, SMIT International, Solar Turbines, T-Online, UCB Pharma, UHDE Industrial, Yara and many others. George holds a Mechanical Engineering degree and an MBA from the International Institute for Management Development (IMD), Lausanne, Switzerland. He is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP® ) and a certified Project Portfolio Management Professional (Pf.M.P®.).  He is a member of the Project Management Institute,  faculty member for project management programmes at the Management Centre Europe in Brussels, Rotterdam School of Management, the Hellenic American Union and the International Management Institute in Kiev .He has also served as faculty for MBA programmes at various institutions. He has authored and co-authored papers on technical and management subjects.



Balancing the Ps of Project Management

Speaker: Nicos Kourounakis, MASc, PMP, PM², MBA, Senior Consultant, OPM²

Good Project Managers go beyond the standard motions of project management and apply skills and mindset that enable them to allocate wisely their efforts between the many management activities competing for their attention.

But what are those critical management activities that contribute the most to project success?

The “Ps of Project Management” provide a common set of Critical Success Factors (CSFs) for all projects. Having attended this workshop, you will develop a new perspective from which to view and understand your project management priorities. The workshop is open to anyone involved in project work. Prior experience in project management or working in projects is useful but not required.

What you will gain:

  • Appreciate the importance of combining your technical, people and perspective skills
  • Appreciate the importance of developing the appropriate mindsets
  • Prioritise and balance effectively short-term and longer-term management goals
  • Achieve a higher level of management effectiveness
  • Achieve higher overall project performance


  • The Ps of Project Management
  • Causes and symptoms of mismanagement
  • The importance of balancing the Ps
  • In-class assessment

Nicos Kourounakis is a Project Management Consultant with expertise in Project Management Methodologies, Portfolio Management and Organizational Project Management Maturity.  Nicos has been involved in many international projects in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Belgium, Austria and Greece, working with both large organizations and smaller ventures and start-ups. As a Product Manager he also managed the successful development and launch of an innovative Enterprise Project Management application which is currently used by several EU Agencies. Mr. Kourounakis also has several years of experience in training and public speaking. As an Adjunct Professor at the Professional MBA program of the Hellenic American University in Athens, Greece, he has taught courses and delivered seminars on Project Management, Portfolio Management, Value Chain Management and Management of Information Systems. He has also been involved with Project Management Institute both as a speaker at the 2011 PMI Global Project Management Congress in Dublin, at PMI-Istanbul 2012, and PMI BeLux in 2012 (Keynote Speaker), and as an elected Vice President of the Board of Directors of the PMI Chapter in Athens, Greece (2008-2011).  Mr. Kourounakis holds an MBA from McGill University, Montreal, Canada, a MASc in Electrical Engineering from the University of Victoria, Canada, and a BSc in Physics from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. Nicos is also one of the first 100 professionals to be certified in PMI's Organizational Project Management Maturity Model (OPM3)® 


The Agile Toolbox – 3 Agile techniques and how to report progress using JIRA dashboards and PM2 templates

Speaker: Apostolos (Tolis) Apladas, Software Architect and IT Project Manager

This workshop will introduce you to the notion of Epics and Stories and will present the Definition of Done, INVEST Model and MoSCoW prioritisation techniques as described in the Agile PM2 methodology. Tolis will also guide you through JIRA dashboards from the projects he managed over the years and demonstrate the way to measure and report progress. In addition he will explain you the sections of the Reporting Dashboard template of PM  The example of the Participants Portal – Unique Registration Facility (URF) will be presented as a real life case study.

What you will gain:

  • Appreciate the value of key Agile PM2 artefacts
  • Avoid common mistakes during the planning and executing phases
  • Use JIRA dashboards to report progress
  • Understand how to use PM2 Dashboards  

Apostolos (Tolis) Apladas has contributed for the past 7.5 years in several multi-million projects as a Scrum Master, Software Architect, IT Technical Manager and lately as an IT Project Manager. Tolis is certified in PM2 methodology and his mission is not only to manage projects by using PM2 but also assist other Project Managers and Institutions to adopt it. He is also trained in AgilePM2and Scrum methodologies which he uses on a daily basis to complement PM2. Tolis graduated as an Electrical and Electronics Engineer from the University of Patras, Greece and he immediately started working in international and multi-cultural environments. After a successful career in Siemens Enterprise Networks in Greece and Germany he joined the Directorate General for Informatics (DG DIGIT) of the European Commission in January 2011 as external consultant.


Blockchain essentials: an application to project Management

Speakers: Sorin Cristescu, Blockchain Competence Centre Leader at European Commission (DIGIT)

More information on this workshop will follow soon.



Advanced collaboration techniques for a team that rocks!

Speaker: Theodore Moulos, CEO, GrowthRocks, ViralLoops

Discover the tools and techniques that will skyrocket your project management operations and will allow you to become more effective while saving time managing team members, resources and tasks.  We will learn about Slack, the future of internal team communications and collaboration tools, showing you how to turn it into a real-time notification and status center, combined with Geekbot and asynchronous standup meetings. We will also cover the Kickoff meetings process, making sure the team is aligned around common goals and implementation strategies, which is a crucial part of successful project management. Lastly, we will go through prioritization frameworks, similar to the ones used by Growth Hackers, allowing you to set priorities and plan ahead with greater certainty.

What you will gain:

  • Appreciate the value of modern communication tools like Slack and Geekbot
  • Re-design your kickoff meeting process
  • Familiarize yourself with prioritization frameworks used by Growth Hacking Teams

Theodore Moulos has a 15-year experience in running successful and profitable software products. Currently, he is the Group CEO of GrowthRocks. His career includes managerial roles for companies both in Greece and abroad and he has significant skills in intrapreneurship and entrepreneurship.  One of his major career achievements was building i-docs an international product in Customer Communication Management and segmatiX, a product on marketing automation which quickly found traction in important markets in Europe. He is also a guest lecturer in NYU - Executive MBA, co-founder, and Instructor of Growth Hacking Academy and Instructor in several Digital Marketing Diplomas.


Practicing deep listening, an effective communication tool for conflict resolution 

Speaker: Themis Gkion, Learning Experience Architect, Flow Athens

Project managers face challenges in effective communication when coordinating diverse teams, often without authority.  When was the last time you had a conversation with someone whose behavior annoyed you and made the communication challenging? Have you ever felt you weren’t listened to?

The purpose of this interactive workshop is to understand the importance of listening deeply and leave with at least one actionable strategy you can use to address a challenging conversation. By experiencing what it feels like not to be listened to, and identifying the strategies we use to get attention, you will gain insight into the occasionally annoying behavior of people in your groups.  We often blame others for annoying behaviors, but the sources of these behaviors are sometimes surprising and revealing.  We will explore common traps we fall in when trying to listen and practice how to focus on and improve the ability to listen carefully.

What you will gain:

  • Learn a simple actionable strategy to defuse a challenging conversation
  • Practice how to focus on and improve your ability to listen carefully
  • Learn how to listen from a neutral stance without intervening or guiding the conversation

Themis Gkion, Learning Experience Architect, Flow Athens

Themis has founded the educational organization Flow Athens, shaping how he imagines inspiring learning. He is currently training business executives, teachers, students and pupils on 21st century skills, such as: creativity, collaboration, mechanisms for innovation, effective communication, flexibility in problem solving and design thinking. He has delved into experimental teaching methods and developed a sense of learning by growing up and working in a primary school founded by his grandmother.

He studied Mechanical Engineering at the National Technical University of Athens and Pedagogy at the School of Pedagogical & Technical Education. He holds an MBA with distinction from INSEAD and was awarded the gold medal at the National Mathematical Olympiad and bronze medal at the Balkan Mathematical Olympiad.

After a long journey of career exploration, which started from his love for mathematics and challenges, and his involvement with education, he is back to where it all began; developing initiatives for meaningful education to meet the changing needs of people.

Throughout his career path he has gained expertise in diverse business sectors. He has developed textile machinery, as a research & development engineer. He has traded financial derivatives at the global markets division of a bank; he has explored entrepreneurship and leadership training during his MBA at INSEAD; he is a Teacher Trainer and Lead Facilitator for Partners for Youth Empowerment and a Lecturer at the University of Derby.

Professional Virtues for Performance: The CAVE Approach© A virtues-based management approach

Speaker: Anastasia Moira, Performance Improvement Practitioner

The workshop introduces participants to the CAVE Approach©- a next-generation virtues-based approach for personal and professional performance. Participants will understand how managing their virtues-related characteristics enables them to think and act in ways that promote their effectiveness and efficiency to bring desired sustainable results on a personal, group, organizational and societal level.

What you will gain:

  • Appreciate the Aristotelian Ethical Theory as framework for performance management and sustainable development
  • Develop an understanding of the intellectual and moral virtues and how they affect your thinking, attitudes, behaviors and actions
  • Redefine Performance as an all-inclusive concept that is related to both results and process
  • Appreciate how virtues are enablers of performance, while discrepancies from virtues function as disablers of performance
  • Gain insight on how discrepancies from virtues affect various PM Competencies
  • Improve communication, teamwork and collaboration with others
  • Increase sense of self-worth and belonging

Anastasia Moira, Performance Improvement Practitioner

Anastasia is a practitioner in the field of Performance Improvement with studies in Psychology and 20 years of experience in productivity and performance management projects. As a Senior Consultant and Project Manager, she has participated and led projects of large scale reorganization and change, both in multinational and local companies.  Anastasia has significantly contributed through her products and services to the successful application of performance management systems for client organisations, and she has designed numerous training programs, tools and methodologies for people's development.  In recent years, she has been committed to establishing virtues as vital parameters of Performance in every context through the CAVE Approach©, an online assessment that enables their systematic assessment and development. She spreads the CAVE Approach through her publications and writings, through training workshops, private and group mentoring sessions, and speeches.