Interview with Wang Xiaojin



Project Management Is a Way of Thinking

Interview with Wang Xiaojin

Professor, Yunnan University
Kunming, Yunnan Province, China

Interviewed by Yu Yanjuan

Journalist, Project Management Review: PMR (China)


Journalist’s notes

How does it feel to stick to one thing with passion for 35 years?

“It is a pleasant pursuit journey of self-improvement by deepening and expanding around a single focus”, replied Professor Wang Xiaojin, without hesitation.

Wang Xiaojin, Doctor of Philosophy, PMP, now works as a professor of Yunnan University in China, senior project management trainer and consultant. 2018 is his 35th year in project management profession.

For him, project management is not merely a career to make a living, but a way of life. His bond with project management has lasted so long that it seems to have penetrated into every corner of his life. Project management way of thinking enables him to form the habit of running and helps him in dealing with almost everything. There is no doubt that project management has turned into a capable magic stick in his hands.

As an active witness, participant and promoter of project management development in China, he has made considerable contributions. Since 1996, he has been doing research on PMBOK Guide in an effort to promote the application of PMBOK Guide in China. He has participated in the Chinese translation validation since the 3rd edition of PMBOK Guide and is a reviewer of the final exposure drafts of the 4th, 5th and 6th editions of PMBOK Guide. He is the Chair of the Chinese Translation Validation Committees (CTVC) of PMBOK Guide 4th and 5th edition.

He is also an accomplished expert academically. His Ph.D research paper Dimensions and Current Status of Project Management Culture won the 2001 PMI International Student Paper of the Year Award. He has written books such as Project Management Methodology, articles like Project Management: From Traditional to Agile Approach, and papers like Cultural Barriers to the Use of Western Project Management in Chinese Enterprises. Five of his academic papers have been published in Project Management Journal and International Journal of Project Management. Since publishing his first book at the age of 30 in 1992, he has published more than 20 books in China.

“To approach the sky-high ambition through standing on solid ground, and to create good luck through creating challenges” is the life motto of Professor Wang Xiaojin. In my view, his 35-year profession journey is a perfect interpretation of this motto.



Part 1: 35 Years in, with and for Project Management


Q1: 2018 is the 35th anniversary of your project management career. What are the key milestones in your 35-year journey in this profession?

Wang Xiaojin (Xiaojin):          During my 35-year project management career, I always reached an important milestone about every 5 or 6 years. Some of the milestones are: 1983, starting the career; 1989, my first paper (on construction management) published; 1992, my first book (on construction claims management) published; 1997, obtaining project management master degree; 2002, obtaining Ph.D degree in project management. For youths, it is very important to realize an important career milestone every 5 or 6 years.

It is in September 1983 that I started the career at the age of 20. When I firstly got involved in project management, I even didn’t know the term “Project Management”. My first job is the administration of international construction contracts, which I did for about 6 years. After that, I worked on construction cost and finance management, and began to explore the much broader area of construction project management. This exploration directly led to an important decision: going to a foreign university to study Project Management Course. At that time, no university in China offered such a course.

In March 1996, I went to RMIT University, Australia, to study the master degree course of project management. During this period, I studied the draft of the PMBOK Guide and the first edition of the PMBOK Guide. Approaching the completion of my study, I came to realize that project management can be applied in almost all industries, not just in the construction industry, and that project management is not just a set of technical tools but also a new way of thinking. Then, I decided to explore and do research on the project management way of thinking.

In late 1998, I started my Ph.D degree study at Victoria University, Australia, with the research topic of Project Management Culture. I believed that project management practitioners should have their own professional culture, including some important work-related values and beliefs. Through the survey of Australian project management professionals, I established the model of project management professional culture consisting of Professional Commitment, Project Team Integration, Work Flexibility, and Work Performance. Thanks to this research, I was very lucky to win the 2001 International Student Paper of the Year Award of PMI Educational Foundation, and became the first non-North-American winner of this award.

Having obtained my Ph.D degree, I immediately returned to China and joined Yunnan University to continue my project management career. Practicing, researching, teaching, and writing in the area of project management are my lifelong career pursuits.

Q2: You were appointed to work in Lubuge Project Construction Management Bureau (LPCMB) after college graduation in 1983. What does that work experience mean to you?


To read entire interview, click here


Editor’s note: This interview was first published in PMR, Project Management Review magazine, China.  It is republished here with the permission of PMR. The PM World Journal maintains a cooperative relationship with PMR, periodically republishing works from each other’s publications. To see the original interview with Chinese introduction, visit PMR at http://www.pmreview.com.cn/english/

How to cite this interview: Yanjuan, Y. (2018). Project Management Is a Way of Thinking, Interview with Wang Xiaojin; Project Management Review (China); republished in PM World Journal, Vol. VII, Issue IX – September. Available online at https://pmworldjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/pmwj74-Sep2018-Yanjuan-Xiaojin-Interview.pdf

About the Interviewer

Yu Yanjuan

Beijing, China




Yu Yanjuan, Bachelor’s Degree, graduated from the English Department of Beijing International Studies University (BISU) in China. She is now an English-language journalist and editor working for Project Management Review Magazine and website. In the past, she has worked as a journalist and editor for China Manned Space Agency website and Student English Times. She once worked part-time as English teacher in training centers. For work contact, she can be reached via email [email protected] or Linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/in/yanjuan-yu-76b280151/.