Every year, the Association for Project Management (APM) challenges students and new entrants into Project Management to manage a project based on a real world problem in order to demonstrate and develop key skills.
This year, the theme for the 2015/16 APM Thames Valley Branch challenge was “Sustainability”, and it’s the first time that a team from Thales’s Research & Technology (TRT) business have participated in this challenge.
Team Solon, led by Dr Saed Hussain, Research and Development Engineer, Thales Research & Technology UK, brainstormed ideas for a project that would fit the challenge but that would also have long term impact. As part of an upcoming office move in 2017, Thales in the UK has plans to consolidate three of its sites (Reading, Basingstoke and Weybridge) to a single site in Green Park, Reading. During the project planning phase, it was identified that a significant amount of used furniture and other items would be sent to landfills during this process.
As a result of this, Team Solon decided to address the unsustainable issue of throwing away furniture as part of the APM challenge and create a “Sustainable Equipment Repurposing Solution” in collaboration with Terry O'Sullivan, Managing Director, Thales Research & Technology UK.
As part of the project, the team set out to develop a sustainable business process that would benefit an external party by donating good quality, usable office items to local organisations such as charities and schools. Team Solon has successfully managed to engage local organisations and have already donated a significant number of furniture items, originally destined for landfills. On the 23 March 2016, Thales donated numerous items, ranging from book shelves to coat hangers, to the local charity Christian Community Aid (CCA) furniture store on Silver Street in Reading. Additional furniture has been donated on 31 March as part of the ongoing process. Terry O’Sullivan commented: “Innovation is key to developing sustainable and successful projects. It is opportunities like these that see Thales’s bright young engineers and scientists using their skills to work on something beyond their day jobs and finding innovative solutions to challenges in the business. ”
Thales in the UK is leading the way in implementing sustainable processes across the organisation to support local communities and to help improve the health of Thales employees in the UK. Team Solon is working within Thales to replicate this donation programme across various sites in the UK. Mike Seabrook, Company Secretary, Thales UK says: “It’s important to challenge our graduates by making them think about a sustainable future, and it’s great to see some of the innovative ideas that have come out of the APM challenge this year.”
Currently, the business processes developed by Team Solon as part of this project and the lessons learned are going to be used to replicate the donation programme at the Basingstoke and Weybridge sites, during the office move to Green Park in Reading. Meanwhile, in the Thales London office, as part of the APM challenge, team “SustainAPPLES” are improving the health of Thales employees by making fresh fruit available in the office whilst simultaneously promoting the consumption of local produce.