Fundamentals Qualification (PFQ)
The trainer knew absolutely everything – that was a key thing for me. You could ask any question and he would come straight back with the answer
Verified by an engineer
Peter Tautscher, 25, gained a BEng in Automotive Engineering at Oxford Brookes University, followed by an MSc in Engineering Business Management at University of Warwick. He worked as an Operations Graduate Engineer at Faurecia, a tier one supplier of automotive components, before moving to Polestar as a Function Group Controller. Polestar are a Swedish manufacturer of premium electric vehicles which grew out of Volvo. Now listed on NASDAQ, Polestar aims to produce a new launch vehicle every year. Peter has risen to Function Group Project Manager and is responsible for delivery of the interior package for new models being developed at the R&D department in MIRA Technology Park, Nuneaton.
Why the Association of Project Management, Project Fundamentals Qualification (PFQ) course?
“Polestar is a young company with a lot of room to grow. When I first joined just over a year ago, our processes of how we implemented change were loose. That was OK for the stage the company was at. But we are now public, we have to meet ISO standards and we are audited. We need clear, auditable change control processes. Taking courses like this help me and the company grow.
“When I was doing my master’s at Warwick, I identified that project management was something I was more interested in than the technical side. So, on joining Polestar, I mentioned quite early on that I wanted to do something like the PFQ or PRINCE2. At a meeting with my boss’s boss, he suggested this and some other IMechE courses. I knew from my own research and talking to people in the industry, the IMechE did a lot of really good courses.
“The course coincided well with what was going on at work. I was thrown into a project at quite an early stage in my career – I wasn’t complaining but there was a lot going on. I wanted to know more about why things were done in the way they were done. I wanted to understand more of the theory behind my role as opposed to just getting on-the-job experience.”
What was your experience of the course?
“It was held at our office space in the MIRA Technology Park in Nuneaton, Warwickshire. There were about 12 of us, all from Polestar. It was good to be able to discuss the content with colleagues afterwards and get their viewpoints.
“It was a two-day course and it was intense. Very intense. There was so much to go through, the trainer had to be very strict with the time. This is not an area where you can learn it all in a single course – you could take a week’s course and it still wouldn’t be long enough. But the trainer knew absolutely everything – that was a key thing for me. You could ask any question and he would come straight back with the answer.
“The course was on the Thursday and Friday, and there was an exam on the Monday to get the APM qualification. I had looked at the course notes over the weekend in preparation for the Monday and I retained much more than I thought I would. I think that’s because the trainer delivered the course in such a clear way and he was very good about what we would need to know for the exam – and I passed.”
What are the key reasons someone should attend the APM Project Fundamentals Qualification (PFQ) course?
1 “I think one of the main reasons is confidence. I wanted to know more about my field and feel confident about managing risk.”
2 “It helps you understand the hierarchy of decision-making – you learn a lot about project management that an engineer could and should apply to their work.”
3 “It’s good for your career. You’re competing with so many people that getting extra qualifications from bodies like the APM and the IMechE gives you a leg up.”
What’s been the impact?
“A few things, such as risk management, really resonated with me. I was able to see how we should be approaching it and make appropriate changes. Change control really stood out for me, too. We went through the key steps which was so helpful. We’ve seen our change control process really develop over the couple of months since the course. It feels like it is evolving every week.
“My colleagues also noticed things they could do straightaway that would positively impact day-to-day routines and improve what we’re doing. For example, using the RACI matrix – roles could be a bit of a grey area and people were a bit unsure of where responsibility lay. That could lead to things not getting the attention they needed. But by making it really clear who’s Responsible, who’s Accountable, who’s Consulted and who’s Informed, the process is now a lot more efficient.
“Lots of people here have Jaguar Land Rover experience and we used to joke we’ll never be like them. But you soon realise you need to be pretty strict and have all these processes in place – they are there for a reason. It’s been great to combine people’s previous experience at other companies with what we have learned on the course and then define how we will do things here.”
Three pieces of advice you’d give future attendees
1 “Read the syllabus and course notes beforehand. It helps to familiarise yourself with the terms and information you’ll cover.”
2 “Try to identify where there are issues in your company’s processes. When you are on the course, think about what is being suggested and whether you can apply those solutions to your company.”
3 “Having said that, try to keep an open mind and not relate everything to a problem at work! There’s a lot of information to take in, so write down the key terms during the day and re-read those notes later. I found that really helpful, especially when it came to the exam.”
“There were quite a few areas we covered, like resource management, that I don’t have a huge say in at the moment. It’s something I want to do soon and, when I do, I will be able go back to my notes. Similarly with different types of estimating, such as parametric or analytical estimating. I can apply bits of them to the Request for Information and Request for Quote processes we go through with suppliers, so that’s useful. But I am not at the point where I estimate project costs. I hope to.
“I have career goals and courses like this will help me get to where I’d like to be. It’s given me self-belief and more confidence – you know you are applying themes and technologies that have been defined by experts who have studied the subject for years. I would like to keep going and do the next course, APM Project Management Qualification (PMQ).”
APM Project Fundamentals Qualification (PFQ)