Program Management Information Services (PMIS) Ltd. is a professional services company that help clients to better manage their portfolio of projects and programmes. Raymond Poole leads a highly qualified and skilled team of International Consultants who are experts in their field. Driven by the desire and commitment to deliver best of breed project management systems through world class best practices, the team ia competent in the area of Enterprise Project Portfolio Management (EPPM); Risk Management, Claims Management and Contract Management. Currently Raymond’s project assignments cover Ireland, UK, Europe, US and South Africa.
What led you to starting your business?
I was unfortunate (or fortunate) enough to enter the world of full-time employment in 1980 as a Junior Draughtsman (no Political Correctness back then, now we would call the position a Junior Draughtsperson), by 1983 the Construction Industry in Ireland was on its knees (sound familiar so far) and so I decided to become a sole-trader offering my draughting services to many companies in the hope that I could get at least 3 – 4 days’ work per week. That was my Eureka moment in business and at the tender age of 21 became self-employed. I have never since been anything else and have always managed to survive the many ups and downs our Irish economy has thrown at us.
How did you raise the start-up funds you needed?
My company had no real start-up funds as it was basically me selling my skills and services to the industry in Ireland. My two employees back in 2002 when I registered my current company Program Management Information Services Ltd. (PMIS for those who find saying the full name leaves them short of breath) were my then 15 (Jenny) and 11 (Vicky) year old daughters. They were my collateral and start-up fund. To this day they are both still actively involved with our company and are without doubt the most valuable assets we possess.
What was the most significant lesson you learned in starting your business?
Never be afraid to say No and always be willing to take the risk if you believe it is the right thing for you and your company. I have a philosophy when it comes to work (and life in general); the view from the cliff is far better cantilevering over the edge than standing 100 feet back. It may be far more nerve wrecking and even dangerous but the reward is exponentially superior to that of sitting in a deck chair some 100 feet back. Sometimes you must take risks and other times not, the most important thing is to go with your “gut” feeling as most times it will not be the wrong one. And should you think you have taken the wrong path because things did not turn out as you planned, wait a time to see what materialises because as the saying goes when one door closes another is bound to open.
What’s the best book you’ve ever read, business or non-business?
I don’t read a lot of books but when I do I tend to make them count and normally I restrict my reading to work material. However, all that said I have read a number of books over the years and the one that I feel had the biggest impact on my life was a book called The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama. I think in Western society we can very easily and quickly lose sight of what makes us happy as somehow through social pressure and media advertisement it would be appear all our happiness should come from materialistic goods. Don’t get me wrong, I see nothing untoward with wanting a nice house, car and all the mod-cons (in fact I desire many of these things myself) but deep down we must ask what makes us happiest the most. If we were to be told our world as we know it will end tomorrow and we could only take a handful of items with us we would most likely take the meaningful items like photos of families, the gift your child made for you at craft day in school, the jumper your father or mother use to wear and still has their scent on it. These are the things that really leave a lasting impression on us.
Who is the entrepreneur you admire the most?
The Entrepreneur I admire the most is my mother, she never ran a business other than that of our family home. But like all mothers up and down the country or across different continents they are the cornerstone of all entrepreneurs. My mother told me I could be anything I wanted to be and the only person who could stop me was myself.
What have been the biggest challenges in your business to date?
Growing to our full potential within the island of Ireland. It is somewhat ironic that in 2010 I attended a course through WCEB with Blaise Brosnan and was asked a question about where I saw my company in the coming 3 – 5 years. My answer was unrehearsed and simple; I estimated that 75% of my company revenue would come from off the island of Ireland. In January 2011 I secured a contract in South Africa to help implement the largest ever installation of Oracle Primavera for the South African national energy provider, Eskom. The intention was that we would be there for 4 – 5 months. To date some of my colleagues and I have spent almost 19 months working with this client and in addition more recently on a project for the implementation of Portfolio Management systems for the entire South African government. The irony is that we can sometimes think of Africa as a continent that is not at the forefront of technology advancement. However, in this instance they have to date surpassed how we in Ireland manage our projects, adopted the new technology with open minds and a willingness to engage with this new era in Project Portfolio Management.
What has been the proudest moment in your business so far?
My proudest moment in business was when the Program Manager at Eskom awarded me with a certificate of merit in December 2011 for my services to his organisation. The reason that this simple gesture meant so much to me was that these awards were normally only handed out to Eskom employees and here I was a Contractor receiving the same recognition as a direct employee. I felt that I had been successful in breaking down the barrier between employee and contractor. That recognition meant more to me than all the third level qualifications I have obtained over the years.
What was the best piece of business advice you ever got?
Again from my mother in the 1980s, “son if no one company can employ you full-time, then just maybe a number of companies will require your services even for a half-day each week, if you get enough half-day contracts before you know it you will have more than enough work”. She was right then back in 1983 and her advice is still correct today in 2012 and will be equally so in 2030!
Can you recommend a good time management technique for other entrepreneurs out there?
Blaise Brosnan has an excellent technique, draw a small margin down the left-hand-side of your diary. Against each item listed for the day simply write:
a. Do It – If it is of importance then you will deal with it that day
b. Delay It – If it is not of critical importance you will postpone it till a later date
c. Delegate It – If it does not require your attention perhaps someone else in the company can be responsible for it
d. Delete It – If it keeps getting postponed into the future maybe it really doesn’t need to be done at all, it is what we call noise in the background that needs to be filtered out to leave you time to focus on the important things
What magazine do you never miss each month?
That’s an easy one, I miss every magazine each month as there are none that I purchase. I get what I need to keep up with my industry from reading Blogs, Websites and articles from various sources online
What is your favourite film?
I have many but one of my favourites is The Pianist. It is a movie based on a true story about Polish Jew who is a Classical Pianist during the Second World War. I think to see his determination to survive and the journey he travelled is all inspiring. I very often think when times are difficult at the office just how really difficult is it in comparison to what people on all sides had to face during that period. As I said before we almost feel compelled to live to a certain standard of life (or at least be seen to) but does it really matter. Life is about the journey and not always the destination. This I think is what this movie portrays marvellously (also the music in spine chilling good)
What is your favourite ad?
I love the Cadbury’s Gorilla Advert from 2007 featuring Phil Collins song In the Air
What advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs thinking of starting a business?
Ask yourself one question, if you do not take the next move to follow your dream will you regret never taking that chance, if the answer is yes, then go for it. If the answer is hesitation or uncertainty maybe it is not your chosen path.
What do you like to do when you’re not running your business?
Walking in Glendalough when at home in Ireland. Going on Bush Drives when in South Africa and spending time with my family, friends and loved ones.
Have you found the self-employed formula for a work/life balance?
I would think I have but my wife and daughters would say I haven’t I don’t believe there is a generic formula for this as nobody can tell you what it is rather it is something that only you can truly uncover with the cooperation of your family.
What’s your website?
Our company web site is http://www.pmis.ie/main_page.html
Do you have a Facebook page?
Our Facebook site is PMIS LTD
Are you on Twitter?
Our Twitter account is @PMISLtd
How has Wicklow CEB helped you and/or your business?
The best course I have ever taken with Wicklow CEB has to be the Business Management course with Blaise Brosnan, truly an amazing and inspirational individual. Anyone who can, should avail of that course. Other than that the many other courses I have sent my staff on over the years as I always find that they are insightful.
If you could start up all over again, would you do anything differently?
I can honestly say that as far as my career goes I have no regrets as to have regrets is to dwell on the past. One must constantly look forward, you can never undo things that have been done but you can improve on how to proceed with things that need improving. Life is for the living (Duh!). Enjoy it, you have but one chance at doing something you feel fulfilling and adds meaning to hopefully not just your life but those around you and beyond your grasp so go for it. Do what you love most with enthusiasm, vigour and be inspirational so others can be inspired by you. You don’t have to be a Steve Jobs to impact on people; every butterfly’s flutter has its own impact no matter how big or small.
Senior Oracle and Project Management Team at the Go Live for Eskom. (L to R) Mike Sicilia – SVP and General Manager of Oracle Primavera; Raymond Poole – Managing Director of PMIS Ltd.; Dick Farris – SVP and Product Development at Oracle Primavera; Warren Alborn – Senior PCM Consultant