Former Royal Navy officer, Angus Peacock, didn’t realize his experience in the military was setting him up for a diverse and globetrotting career in project management, but that’s exactly what happened.

After serving a short service commission in the Royal Navy, Angus obtained a dual language honors degree in Chinese and French before taking a job opportunity in China as a General Manager.

“When I left the military, like a lot of military folks, I didn't have a clue about business,” Angus said, “but I did understand operations, so I could go into environments and learn how an operation works pretty quickly.”

“In the military, you are fundamentally task-driven. We have to get the task done. So here’s your time framework, here’s the resources you have – create a solution, solve problems to deliver a task.”

“I wasn’t really consciously aware that that was my modus operandi; that's just what I did because that's what we were trained to do.”

Angus’s first role was for a production suite in Nanjing, where he and his team worked to produce cutting-edge 3D movies and 3D imagery for real estate marketing, “things that are commonplace these days.”

“There wasn't really a book for us. It was just, ‘Right, Angus, go out there. Run the operation.’ So I went out there, set up all the operations. That was my abiding knowledge from my time in the military. And then everything we did was a project.”

“We had a budget for that project, a time frame within which to deliver. You go through the life cycles of the project – initiation, planning, deliverr, and close. And that’s what we were doing, that was our bread and butter on every single project.”

During the course of a twelve-year stint living and working in China, Angus went to every corner of the country and worked in various sectors.

“The military plus that first position in real estate completely set me up for every other industry,” Angus said.

“I would say I could walk into any environment, and outside of technical subject matter expertise, I could probably run their projects to fruition because the skill sets and the competencies are pretty much the same wherever you go, whichever environment you go into.”

In one role, Angus was tasked with implementing and managing sports programs for thousands of inner-city children. In the program's first year, engagement increased by 96%, and then another 180% in the following two years.

In another position, he chaired and managed the Shanghai branch of Lifeline – a non-profit dedicated to mental health awareness and care.

It wasn’t until Angus returned from Asia to the West that he actually decided to get certified in project management, being admitted as a Certified Project Director to the Center for Project Innovation. The certification helped Angus to define and articulate his professional competence.

“Coming back from Asia to the West, it was destabilizing because I couldn’t really articulate what I’d been doing,” Angus said. “I’m not in banking, I’m not a lawyer. I’m not a doctor. I’m not an industrialist. So people say, ‘Well, what have you done with your life?’”

“Doing the course and the certification helped me quantify my experience within a framework that seemed to be missing in industry. It helps me to articulate, frame, and actually truly comprehend what I've been doing professionally for the last 20 odd years.”

Angus notes that at the time of his return to the West, project manager as a distinct role wasn’t as recognized as it is today. “I wasn't aware of project management as an umbrella term, no one was, no one was talking about it. It wasn't like you see now on LinkedIn: you put in project management, everyone's talking about it - project management hither and thither. It just wasn't something that was spoken to back then.”

He describes the change in his own perspective on project management as like “red truck syndrome.”

“You don't see a red truck until you talk about it. You want to buy a red truck, and now you see red trucks everywhere. It's the same in project management. I see it everywhere.”

Angus has found that even though project management is well recognized nowadays, “it still feels like it's a new thing in people's worlds.” He recalls an experience where his project management expertise was pleasantly at odds with business as usual for his employer.

“When I was doing sports governance in the US, I ran multiple leagues over a landmass the size of New Zealand from a single destination. Everyone on the board was from what I call standard business backgrounds. But when I recalibrated the program, it was based on project management principles. And they went, ‘How are you doing this?’ I said, ‘How are you not doing this?’

Since moving to the US, Angus has combined his passion for rugby with his project management expertise by managing and developing leagues, teams, players, and coaches.

His work has produced hundreds of qualified coaches and upskilled thousands of players in rugby.

Angus has been able to combine his passion for rugby with his expertise in project management, delivering rugby programs in China and the US.

Currently, Angus manages federal government projects and public–private sector collaborations in the environmental remediation space.

He also coaches current and former military personnel and business executives in project management.

Looking back over his career, Angus reflects on the pathway project management has offered him and what opportunities it has for those thinking about following a similar route.

"Project Management as a career trajectory is enriching, offering access to business knowledge and skills that you may not acquire in more traditional environments,” Angus said.

“Complex, with a steep learning curve, particularly when managing the expectations of multiple stakeholders, you will experience many successes and failures.”

“Surrounded by subject matter experts with knowledge that far exceeds your own, you will learn to communicate, extract information, and be accountable for executing tasks and decisions.”

“Project management will present challenges that will test you and stress you. That being said, closing out a project or your part of a project, delivering a final outcome to accepted standards, knowing the multitude of problems you solve brings the rewards of creation and completion - seeing a real outcome for your endeavors and sharing a sense of achievement with people around you that often does not exist elsewhere.”

“Over time, you will look back and discover a portfolio rich in experience and knowledge built on a journey of your own making."


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