• Tara Humphrey

Project Management Lessons from the Kilimanjaro Diaries (Before the climb)

On 16th March 2017, I am embarking on an epic adventure to Tanzania to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, taking on a new personal challenge and raising money for the charity CARE.

In preparation for the climb, I have spent hours and HOURS pounding the pavements of Herne Bay and Whitstable and have had A LOT of time to reflect on things. In doing so, I have been able to draw many parallels between the training I am undertaking and my role as a project manager and change agent.

So here goes.

Simple isn’t so simple

Doing something as simple as walking for hours on end, in reality, is really hard and sometimes really painful!  However, I know why I’m doing it, I have a plan which is flexible (to account for my multiple injuries. My hips hurt, my back hurts, and my neck hurts!) and I’m willing to persevere.

When translating this to being a project manager, some of the changes we are trying to enable on the surface seem really simple but are actually really complex  but like my Kilimanjaro training, you need to be clear on why you are doing it (and why others should join you), you need a flexible plan, and you need to persevere in spite of all the barriers and challenges that you may face.

You can’t do it alone

Even though I am signed up to do this trip on my own (without a friend) and walking around in the early hours of the morning or late at night can be pretty lonely, there is, in fact, a whole team of people, organisations and services supporting me to do this, and the following are all part of team Tara.

  • My family and friends

  • The tour operator

  • The Tanzanian High Commission (that will issue my Visa)

  • The travel clinic (for my immunisations)

  • The Mountain Warehouse and Amazon (for all my equipment and clothes)

  • Just Giving to manage my charity donations

  • The travel agents (to convert my currency)

  • My Osteopath

I also used to think that being a freelance project manager could feel lonely, but actually, I get to work and meet with;

GPs, Nurses, Practice Managers, other Project Managers, Commissioners, Training Providers, Administrators, Finance Leads, Academics, Pharmacists, Paramedics and Health Care Assistants.

In both scenarios, while I don’t get to interact with these people every day, it turns out I’m not so lonely after all 😊.

It takes longer than you think

My last walk at the time of writing this was 17 miles, and it took me 5 and ½  hours. When I started my training, I was surprised that even though I thought I was walking really fast (clearly I'm crawling along like a snail!), it takes ages to go not very far and requires a tremendous amount of patience.

With this in mind, my new mantra which I have adopted is slow, steady and consistent wins the race which can also be applied to my professional life.  With this mindset, even though we are working within specific time frames, there is no need to rush, and even with a sense of urgency, a slow, steady and consistent pace will get you there quicker than you think.

I’ll update you with how my trip went, but in the meantime, if you have a spare £5 that you could donate towards helping women, girls and communities affected by poverty, it would mean the absolute world to me.

Donations can be made here.