Helen S. Cooke, BA, MA, PMP
PMI Fellow, 2005
Prior to joining PMI, Helen Cooke had six years of experience in project management (Higher Education and Federal/State Government) and was a mid-level grants manager in the Federal Government for a six-state region. She went back for a second Masters degree at Northwestern University Kellogg Graduate School of Management in 1978 and was hired early by the consulting arm of Deloitte in 1980. While at Deloitte, Ms. Cooke joined the PMI Chicagoland Chapter and was Chapter President in 1989.
Ms. Cooke joined PMI in 1984 while she was project manager of major systems development projects in Orange County, CA (while a manager at Deloitte). Her project had 300 businesses as customers on three continents. She became a senior principal at American Management Systems (VA) in 1990 and was their financial systems portfolio manager. She managed the project that created the software for the credit card you currently hold in your pocket (the client was First Data Corporation).
After that, self-employed as a project management consultant, Ms. Cooke helped Hewlett Packard and four other OEMs launch the .35-micron microchip processor by December 1996 that brought the $14 billion tech market to the US. Also serving as a project manager for IIT Executive Program, she helped formulate and design the business-oriented customer room for Marriott.
In 1989, Ms. Cooke was president of the PMI Chicagoland Chapter and headed the Council of Chapter Presidents for PMI and received the president’s award for leadership. She also helped launch the PMI Educational Foundation (with Max Wideman, Vancouver Board Member) and helped to shape its mission/goals for ten years. She was the PMIEF first elected officer in 2001 with PMI founder, Jim Snyder. She helped launch the first bound version of A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) and was a Journal editor.
From 1994 to 2001, Ms. Cooke served as a member of the Board of Directors. She was the PMI VP, Finance and Administration from 1994-1997 and later elected again to the role of VP Region II. Ms. Cooke received the PMI Fellow Award in Toronto in 2005.
Ms. Cooke helped launch PMI into a global association, ensuring an emergency financial reserve and globally-sensitive dues. She was VP when PMI automated their certification exam and was project manager for the Organizational Project Management Maturity Model from 1997-2001. She launched the first PMI Executive Council in Chicago for the PMI Chicagoland Chapter in 2005, which today has around 40 active corporate executives.
When PMI became a trade association in 1997-1998, while she was Chief of McDonalds (Information Architecture Division) Project Management Center of Excellence, Cooke led the PMI ambassador delegation to South Africa. Later she became the head of the IT Project Management Office at United Airlines Headquarters up until September 11th, 2001. At this time, United laid off 50,000 employees and Cooke started her consulting business, OPM Mentors, with the new global website InfoWorks.com, as Program Manager and later VP for InfoWorks International Inc. She published two global textbooks on project management for McGrawHill publishers (c. 2005, 2011 and 2012), and taught PMI’s first online webinar on Program Management. Cooke was an independent consultant in Project Management for ten years.
In 2010 she retired from regular membership status with PMI and taught project management courses on a part-time basis at DePaul University Management Development Program, Northwestern University’s Executive Program, and Keller Graduate School of Management (project management systems) all in the Chicago area.
Since then, Cooke has been a partner in a consulting business with her husband and serves as a contributing editor in charge of all project management content in Chicago and Sydney for the InfoWorks online presence.