UCL Career Frameworks


Senior Project Manager in IT Change and Project Delivery (ITCPD)

Maria Carmen Fernandez, Information Services Division (ISD)

Maria Carmen Fernandez
I am a Senior Project Manager in IT Change and Project Delivery (ITCPD), within Information Services Division (ISD) and, I am currently working on an Assignment as Domain Delivery Manager, helping ISD transition to a new way of working, Agile.

I joined UCL in 2016 as a Project Manager. Then, I was successful in a selection process and was appointed as a Senior Project Manager in 2018. The project delivery methodology followed by ITCPD has traditionally been waterfall (planning and design upfront for delivery to take place towards the end of the cycle) while the industry has been moving towards agile (iterative and shorter cycles that enable earlier value delivery). Hence, I was keen on keeping up-to-date with new ways of delivering value and as soon as the opportunity emerged, I applied for an assignment as an Agile Delivery Manager (ADM) in one of the few existing Agile projects in ISD. Thus, during the last year I have been working as both a Project Manager and an Agile Delivery Manager, which I have thoroughly enjoyed. This has been a great opportunity to develop further my project delivery skills. In addition, this experience and my advocacy of the modernization of our project delivery practices enabled my current assignment as an Agile Domain Delivery Manager overseeing several Product Teams, which are at different stages in the Agile transition journey.

I am a results driven person and I like ‘making it happen’. While setting a strategy is essential, I also find very exciting delivering a vision so, it becomes a reality, and moving on to the next challenge. I like setting things in motion and leading teams to make progress, looking back and realising ‘how far we have become’ and in so doing we have added value to UCL. 

The team culture is important to me as well. My job enables me to meet a wide base of stakeholders, which is an enriching experience. I like creating inclusive teams where everybody feels their contributions and personalities are valued and their voices heard. I enjoy creating teams consisting of individuals with different personalities and skillsets, who might have not worked together before but they start working towards a common goal and have fun while being part of the team.

I am passionate about education and research and that is what attracted me to UCL. Previously, I worked for a large shipping company – a very fast pace environment in a very different sector. On joining UCL, I had to adapt to a new organisation culture and integrate into a different working environment. I think that my previous experience of working in a continuously changing environment has equipped me to be more adaptive to change and proactive in pursuing my professional development. We are very lucky at UCL to have so many fantastic courses available for us to develop our skills – I have taken more courses in the last four years than in the previous ten! In every course, I have learnt at least one thing that I have adopted in my job and has helped me improve my performance. I also took part in the Women in Leadership program, which provided me with valuable insight into my leadership style and inspired me to aim higher in my career. 

My advice to others in my area would be to think about what your areas of interest are and why you are interested in that area and what skills are required – the more aligned the role is with your ‘true self’, the more you will enjoy it. Then, be proactive about pursuing the development of any required skills or professional accreditations; as mentioned before, UCL offers wonderful courses. It is also helpful to discuss your career aspirations with more senior colleagues who might be willing to share their career development experience and provide helpful advice. Keep an open mind if you join a new department or you encounter change, although sometimes it is not immediately obvious, your previous experience will be a great asset – focus on mapping your previous experience and skills to the new context. I would also encourage colleagues from other UCL departments to join ISD; IT is at the core of most of our daily life and is a stimulating area to work in. In particular, IT would benefit from more female talent, both in technical and management roles. Talented and motivated females - join us in ISD!