The most influential projects of 2021 couldn't happen without project managers

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(BPT) - Despite numerous challenges, 2021 has emerged as a time of hope and advancement, proven by the many successful projects that will impact humanity for decades to come. These results are thanks to a team effort, including dedicated project managers that tackle complex steps and organizational challenges all while prioritizing the ultimate goal.

To honor their perseverance, Project Management Institute (PMI), with input from experts globally, has unveiled the third annual Most Influential Projects list, reflecting how project managers and changemakers have found resourceful ways to keep initiatives moving forward amid global disruptions, including the COVID-19 pandemic and many others.

“As a for-purpose organization, PMI is dedicated to supporting and uplifting those who are enabling change around the world,” said Michael DePrisco, Chief Operating Officer of Project Management Institute. “Our 2021 list of Most Influential Projects prove how creativity, collaboration, discipline and determination can turn the boldest of ideas into a reality and change the world that we live in — even during the most challenging times.”

DePrisco points to three examples on this year’s list for how project managers helped make the year’s Most Influential Projects a reality. To learn more visit PMI.org.

Flexible work with the Great Work From Home Experiment

When the pandemic hit, adaptations became necessary for millions of people worldwide who now needed to work from home. Many professionals have spent most of 2021 working remotely or in a hybrid setting, and now, thanks to agile companies and forward thinking, the traditional 8-5 in-office life may never quite return. This is what PMI is coining “the Great Work From Home Experiment,” #2 on the Most Influential Projects list.

Flexible, hybrid work arrangements are no longer the minority and rather are embraced by companies and in demand by workers. Some companies are selling massive office spaces and shifting those funds to support a fluid, remote work structure. Even technology companies long known for their in-person work culture are now offering hybrid schedules that can be customized to workers' preferences. From sustainably downsizing to creating flexible workspaces that integrate nature and technology, 2021 is the year that companies have shifted focus to the workplace of the future, and project managers had a hand in both deploying these new workplace strategies and pushing their projects forward simultaneously.

Perseverance on Mars

Has there ever been life on Mars? It's a question that scientists are trying to answer with help from the Perseverance robotic rover, project #23 on the Most Influential Projects list. This complex project required incredible focus on a tight deadline, which was made more complex as most of the project team shifted to remote work. The project managers knew that making the launch date was essential — not only would missing it mean another 26 months before planets would appropriately align again, but the delay would be costly.

On July 30, 2020, Perseverance launched from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida and successfully landed on Mars in February 2021. Now Perseverance is roaming Mars, collecting samples and gathering important data to help scientists answer big questions. Project leaders, passionate scientists and many more continue to work together to analyze samples and unlock the secrets of the red planet.

LGBT+ banking with Daylight

The financial services industry has scores of products developed for myriad people and needs, yet one growing demographic that is too often overlooked is the LGBT community. This is concerning, especially considering LGBT household wealth is estimated at $23 trillion globally, with almost $6.9 trillion in the U.S. alone, according to LGBT Capital. Enter Daylight digital banking platform, formed by queer millennials to meet their unmet needs, and #38 on the Most Influential Projects list.

Daylight knew insights from this important audience would be key in custom-building a banking system that met their specific needs — and they went right to the source through conversations with LGBTQ+ consumers. Gathering information was an important yet complex undertaking that required thoughtful outreach and steadfast organization. These conversations allowed project leaders to understand problems and provide meaningful solutions, such as allowing transgender individuals to have their preferred name on their bank card rather than their legal name. Additionally, Daylight facilitates a social community that encourages peer-to-peer education, with a focus on long-term financial wellness and a bright future for all.

"By recognizing these projects and other Most Influential Projects of the past year as well as their impact on our world, PMI is bringing deserved attention to the profession of project management, specifically to show how projects have changed and are changing the world we live in," said DePrisco.