Project Management Institute

Global revolution

PMI and the project management career have shaped people's lives. PMI's six founders discuss how their lives changed based on the choice they made 35 years ago to launch an organization dedicated to the profession.

PMI HAS CHANGED MY WORLD concepts and perception. Some aspects have been broadened or deepened, others have had whole dimensions added, some have been totally reversed, some have been a “WOW—why didn't I realize that?”

I've come to know that people are different and, worse, often do not speak—or want to learn to speak—the same concept or content language. This is not a dialect difference, though that exists. It is reluctance, almost a downright resistance, to changing their knowledge inventory and their concept content and understanding.

I've also become aware—painfully most often—of the tremendous yet subtle influence of cultural differences in team members' perceptions of, for example, project procedures manual or scope control system or progress reporting.

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Eric Jenett, Principal, EJConsult, Houston, Texas, USA

It's almost as though the individual says, “Maybe I'll listen, but only if you couch it in terms I like, understand, feel comfortable with and would voluntarily use in discussion.”

All this has been against my long-term, firmly held convictions about fundamental commonalities in project management, given my nearly 40-year tenure in a projectized company, including multiple overseas assignments and responsibilities ranging from junior process engineer to corporate vice president; and finally, a conviction—egotistical I suppose—that I was sensitive, forward-looking and outreaching.

My PMI exposure and involvement has produced a strong, sharp recognition that the more we are different, the more we are alike. Accepting that fact, remembering it and acting accordingly is the No. 1 task, and it is never done. It requires continual vigilance, but it provides a satisfaction that no other project management task can provide or take away.

ON THREE OCCASIONS IN THE MID-1960S IN NEW ORLEANS, I joined in discussions with Eric Jenett, Anne and Jim Snyder, and Susan Gallagher that ultimately led to our first project management conference and the formation of PMI in October 1969. At that inauguration, I presented a paper titled “Planning and Scheduling the Efforts of Knowledge Workers.” Over the ensuing 35 years, you can believe that PMI has changed my world in many ways.

Two major changes come to mind: my ability to gain and exchange knowledge about projects and how to best manage them, and my ability to meet people who have both needs and capabilities in project management. PMI meetings, together with related proceedings and PMI publications, have helped me make important changes in my world.

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Russell Archibald, PMP, President, Archibald Associates, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

One example: In 1984 I moved back to Los Angeles after my early retirement from the Bendix Corp. in Michigan. I attended a dinner meeting of the Los Angeles PMI Chapter and sat next to [the late] Dan Ono, who led a group of project managers within AT&T, directing telecommunications voice/data systems design and installation projects. I met with Dan and his team members the next day, and shortly after that, I started consulting at AT&T, focusing mainly on project team planning and systematic project start-up workshops.

Our consulting relationship lasted for 10 years. Dan and I co-authored several PMI papers and book chapters, and he became active in the Northern California PMI chapters and at the international level of PMI. In the end, it is the people we know, work with, respect, and love that really matter in this life. The people whom I've met and the knowledge I've acquired through PMI have enriched my professional and personal life in many ways.

PMI HAS BEEN THE SINGLE MOST important influence on my professional life for the last 38 years. Even before the first Seminar Symposium and the birth of PMI, it broadened my professional contacts and my understanding of planning and scheduling. It forced a young computer programmer into a much broader business arena—managing projects. Lessons of organization, leadership, finance and business management were learned out of necessity in the early years of PMI.

James R. Snyder, Chairman, PMI Educational Foundation

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As the volunteer executive director for the first 16 years, I was required to learn how to incorporate, manage and finance a new venture. As PMI grew, I grew with it in my knowledge and experience of managing large pharmaceutical projects. The project management skills I learned as a programmer were equally applicable to construction, event management, research and development and international marketing. Managing projects became my life's work, and PMI was my source of professional development.

The positive professional influences associated with the challenges of the Educational Foundation and my active role in the Delaware Valley Chapter continue to be important to me today. PMI remains the source of many lifelong professional and personal friends and associates.

FORTUNATELY, I HAD THE BENEFIT of participating in PMI in a number of capacities and enjoyed each endeavor. Beyond expectations, I found the organization, the chapters and the people eager to share, exchange, support and change to meet the needs of others.

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Susan C. Gallagher, Senior Director Clinical Research, MGI Pharma Inc., Bloomington, Minn., USA

Professionally, I have worked as project manager in a variety of fields such as facility construction projects, HR relocation projects and drug development projects. This breadth of experience offered tremendous opportunity to learn and partake in broad facets of the pharmaceutical business for which I am most grateful. This, in turn, influenced my graduate studies and my career choices. The nature of project management is such that most will have similar exposure, and it is up to us to savor the opportunity and make the choices that will lead us to our future.

While many projects remain fresh in my mind, a few go to the top of the list, not necessarily by size of project but rather measured by impact on organizations and people: the first annual meeting of PMI in Atlanta in October, 1969; the registration with subsequent FDA approval of an aspartame-based product that many of us of have been exposed to; and the first drug development project of a new venture organization that resulted in FDA approval and the subsequent growth of MGI PHARMA, then a young company.

IN FOUNDING PMI, WE WERE CHALLENGED to start a new organization, to motivate people to work very hard and to get new members. It was just like starting a business. In the beginning stages, you're starting from zero and trying to take an idea and make something of it was challenging.

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Ned Engman, President, Engman Software, Houston, Texas, USA

Our first meeting comprised 150 people. I thought that was fantastic, and yet, year after year, we made progress.

While I helped grow PMI, I also wanted to start my own business. I opened my company Mobile Equipment, a truck equipment manufacturer, in Houston during the mid-1970s and quickly learned the value of project management.

In manufacturing, the schedule matters most. Because if you don't hit your date, you don't get paid until you deliver the goods. From the time you took an order to the time you delivered it, that was six months of work, six months of cash going out before you got paid. That simple yet critical thought is what has helped me make my professional career a success.

IN 1964, I TAUGHT PROJECT MANAGEMENT at Georgia Tech. One student, Jim Snyder, cornered me during a continuing education course and said, “We ought to put together a way for people with this project management interest to share their experience and their contributions in this field.” For me, PMI was born at that time.

By 1969, PMI was officially presented to the world at a Georgia Tech Continuing Education program, pulling together some top names in project management. More than 70 people attended, confirming our belief that the organization would flourish. We just had no idea what that growth would be!

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J. Gordon Davis, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer, Davis Consulting Group, Atlanta, Ga., USA

In time, PMI has given me the opportunity to meet some of the truly innovative minds in project management and broaden my view of what project management encompassed. PMI also permitted me to get to know some of the most dedicated, selfless people. They made PMI grow in importance and size, while causing the stature of the project management profession to be recognized globally.

It has been a source of great satisfaction to see PMI become a dominant force for those who find project management exciting and rewarding. I am one of those people, and PMI has been the primary source of my challenges, growth and satisfaction.

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{35 YEARS} PROJECT MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE

This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI.

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