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News & Press: Event Coverage

Project management lessons from the continent’s biggest separation

Wednesday, 07 November 2018  
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By their very definition, projects are unique undertakings, but many project managers wish for that one special, unprecedented project that is remembered as the highlight of their career. It presents unique challenges, lends itself to innovation and creativity and captures the attention of multiple stakeholders. It results in monumental change that resonates through the business’ operations, culture and reputation.

Kerry-Anne Regan is focused, dynamic and at the top of her game. She is also one of the women tasked with guiding the separation of Barclays Plc and Absa.

It was in 2005 that British Bank Barclays first acquired a majority shareholding in Absa, and the union of Absa Group Limited and Barclays’ African operations was made official when Barclays became the majority shareholder in 2013. In March 2016, the decision was made to separate, allowing Absa to regain its independence, claim its space on the continent, and rebrand as a bank embodying ‘Africanacity - the distinctly African ability to always find ways to get things done’.

Kerry’s career is likely to feature many highlights, but for now she is finding her current role at the heart of the biggest separation of its kind on the African continent one of complexity and immense fulfilment.

You needn’t be in information technology nor in banking to appreciate what the separation of Absa and Barclays might entail. The intensity of the union is no greater than that of the separation, though the timeframe of the latter is shorter and the outcome is not a return to the former state, but, as we have seen from their rebranding, more of a reinvention of the newly independent entity.

In her role as Head of Blue Print, Planning and Reporting for the broader separation programme, Kerry-Anne Regan’s portfolio includes identifying and resolving critical challenges that affect the achievement of strategy, transformational change, as well as the regulatory, financial and operational commitments inherent in the separation. She also manages the overall book of work that encompasses all the technical tasks required to finalise the three-year “unravelling” of Barclays Plc systems and support from Absa’s.

This once-in-a-career experience came without a template to follow and requires a “learn as you go” mentality. It also gives Absa a golden opportunity to lay down new foundations at a relentlessly fast pace, creating impactful changes within strategic aspects of the business.

At the Project Management South Africa (PMSA) National Conference taking place from 14 to 16 November 2018 at Wanderers Club, Illovo, Kerry will share some of the inside stories of this immensely complex and dynamic project, which started with a vision of a door opening to independence, and came with the promise of quicker decision making, more control over technology strategy, and much-needed accelerated delivery. She will share some of the key challenges, curveballs, successes and unexpected learnings that have emerged during the intricate separation of the myriad systems and global teams that were the foundation of this financial services giant.

The inclusion of Kerry’s story at the PMSA conference reflects PMSA’s commitment to celebrating the people and processes behind some of South Africa’s remarkable project achievements. It is an opportunity to consider the effect that complex projects, completed successfully, can have on a business. As we enter a new era of accountability and professionalism at a time of technological recession, these are encouraging messages for project managers to take back to their own working environments.


For more information about the PMSA Conference, visit www.projectmanagement.org.za


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