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Academic Forum: July 2008 Archives

Academic Forum Follow-Up

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I recently received these comments from Olivier Lazar, Ph.D., student, ESC Lille, France, about the GAC Academic Forum, held prior to the Research Conference and thought they were worth sharing:

  The economic situation is putting organizations under high pressure to secure their investments, foster controls and meanwhile be more and more reactive to a constantly changing and more competitive environment.

This is the challenge that has to be undertaken by all the educational programs in project management, by raising the number of degrees, the number of graduates and ensuring their competence between academe and practice.

During the forum, we have seen some very interesting and promising initiatives. Shell, for example, has developed a whole training program with Cranfield University, immersing the academic experts in the pragmatic contrains of the business pace. Their success in this project demonstrates clearly that this is a way where we all should look. This point has also been illustrated by the University of Manchester and the Rolls-Royce Center for Project Management.

The partnership between industry/business and academe is a necessary win-win relationship, feeding the education by the field experience and the real-time connection with business contraints, academe giving the outcome of its research and providing industry with high-level professionals, with a tremendous knowledge of standards and already prepared to the expectation of their future operational practice.

Academic Forum

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There are other events taking place at the same venue as the PMI Research Conference. One was the PMI Academic Forum. As project management grows, so does the need for qualified degreed graduates from universities worldwide. A record turnout of 75 came to this event to share ideas on promoting project management education and making sure it meets the needs of the industry, corporations and governments.

PMI president and CEO Gregory Balestrero kicked off the forum with a passionate appeal on the urgency to fill the project management talent shortage and how academia can help.

Here's more from William Moylan, Ph.D., PMP, a member of the PMI Board of Directors and a project management  educator:

The forum provided a catalyst for forging strong partnerships between academic and business communities. The active dialogues among the participants, informative presentations and interactive Q&A sessions, along with the fun networking receptions all helped in deepening established friendships and kindling new associations. The sense of urgency, as noted by Mr. Balestrero in his opening remarks, set the tone for the day-long program. As the entire world becomes project-focused, the exciting challenges of the project management profession are mounting, and the need to educate the cadre of professional project managers is inherent to the solution.

Building partnerships between industry practitioners and academia seems to be a workable solution. The forum presentations encouraged attendees to continue the learning journey through technology transfer, professional development and active interaction with the intention to serve the needs of all stakeholders, especially the students of project management. As life-long learning is the norm for leading in a world of change, partnering is essential to gain the advantages and benefits of a disciplined approach to managing projects and programs. Let us all keep in touch as we partner together in this quest.

And PMI's Oxana Ahern weighed in with some other thoughts I've included below:

As part of the forum, Bill Wilson, Ph.D., professor from Cranfield University, and John Sharples, Shell learning officer, shed light on training programs designed by universities that teach project management at the program level at corporations such as Shell.

Klaus Brockoff with WHU in Germany, who happened to be sitting next to me in the audience, told me his university faced the same challenges (different priorities of academia and the corporate world; estimating the real costs associated with the endeavor) in their joint collaborative programs.

A presentation by Andrew Gale, Ph.D., professor from the University of Manchester, and Mike Brown, head of the Center for Project Management Rolls-Royce, discussed their partnership, which emphasizes not so much the development of hands-on project management skills but mainly critical reflective thinking about everyday project management practices.

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