Laura Magahy, a co-founder of MCO Projects Ltd., is the Managing Director. MCO is a company that specializes in project management, architecture, and environmental engineering. It specializes in 4D planning, healthcare, and sustainable development in both the public and private sector.
She is also the first woman to be awarded the IPMA Level A certification status in Ireland. Although it might not seem like something you are familiar with, it is a significant qualification. It is the highest level of certification that the International Project Management Association awards, at the rank of Certified Projects Directors. Candidates must have at least five years of portfolio or strategic program management experience. They are also assessed against a set core competencies, including the ability to direct senior project managers, implement project management processes, and contribute to strategy.
Laura is the second person in Ireland to be awarded Certified Projects Director status. She is also one of less than 200 worldwide. Laura and I exchanged emails to find out more about her accomplishment.
Laura had to present a project and interview with the IPMA panel in order to obtain Level A certification. She says that she had years of experience in the field, but wanted to formalize it with a qualification. “And also to refresh my knowledge on techniques, jargon, and so forth.” I didn’t set out to become the first woman in this field – and I didn’t know they would release a press release about it! It’s nice to be recognized for my experience and to be part of a small, qualified group.
Laura’s first job as a project manager was to manage the conversion from Quaker Meeting House to the Irish Film Centre. She continues, “While doing that, I became involved with the Temple Bar Development Council,” a local arts and community lobby organization that wanted to prevent the Temple Bar area in Dublin becoming a bus station. “After many years of lobbying, writing documents, and researching, I eventually managed to run the government-established company, Temple Bar Properties Ltd., which oversees the development in the Temple Bar area.”
Laura left TBP after ten years to start her own company with a few colleagues. MCO Projects was now established. Laura has more than twenty years of experience in the role of Project Director/Project Manager and is currently the President of the Institute of Directors Ireland. MCO manages a number of projects, including the Mater Campus Hospital Development with a budget of approximately EUR250 million.
It is often disputed how transferable project management skills can be between industries. Environmental engineering is not the same as financial services or e-commerce. Laura believes that the project management skills she has acquired in architectural planning can be transferred to other industries. She cites the following attributes as easily transferable: “An organized mind, attention to details, and peace and the big picture at any time in the face of challenges.”
Laura believes project management qualifications are worth looking into for women in the industry. The IPMA might see an increase in applications from women seeking certification with role models like Laura.