The Role of Academic Institutions in Educating and Training Project Managers


A series of short articles on 

Article 1 of 6

By Prof Helgi Thor Ingason


Haukur Ingi Jonasson, PhD

Reykjavik University

Reykjavik, Iceland

The journey – we have come a long way in a short time

Since its introduction in the middle of the 20th century, professional project management has evolved from a narrow field with a technical focus, to the rich and diverse multi-disciplinary field it is now. The rapid diffusion of project management is related to change in modern societies, and increased international competition that calls for new ways of working, with greater emphasis on teamwork and collaboration. Last but not least, the advancement of project management has to do with increased demands for being responsive, for speed and efficiency in meeting the demands of clients and interested parties.

Many see project management solely as a method to prepare and manage the defined and constrained undertakings that we refer to as projects. This understanding is partly true, yet project management entails much more than just what its description might portray. Project management is in fact a general management philosophy, which is currently applied by a rapidly growing number of organisations world-wide. These organisations have, to a large extent, made the fundamental decision to organise their activities to a large extent as projects.

In the business environment, the speed of change has never been greater and it is still growing. New markets bring new expectations that require new products and fresh ideas, which in turn call for new regulations. Businesses must evolve their objectives and process the ever-increasing flow of information at even greater speeds to stay within the game. This dynamic landscape requires networking and a high level of collaboration in order to meet the demands of stakeholders within and outside of any organisation.

The landscape is evolving and this inevitably means organisations must have the ability to manage ‘change’ fast, sensitively, and efficiently. Recent research conducted by PMI shows that the characteristics of organisations that survive in today’s demanding business environment are the ones that are able to adjust well to the ever-changing environment; to change their ways of working, develop new products or services, increase their efficiency and generally meet the demands that they are subjected to by their environment.

When it comes to dealing with change, the project perspective is ideal: you design, plan, execute, deliver and learn from the whole experience. Project-driven organisations that foster a culture that supports continuous improvement have a great advantage in the modern marketplace. They have a defined vision, yet they are flexible enough to adjust rapidly to changed circumstances. Their success is built on employing well educated and well trained workers who are eager to take responsibility for their work. They use best project management practices to do what needs to be done and have the ability to deal with even the most difficult and challenging situations. Managing change effectively requires not only the conventional project management skills that focus on technical measures, but also a long-term view of projects and their products through the dynamic alignment of an organisation’s project portfolio and its overall strategy.


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Editor’s note: This series of articles is by Professors Helgi Thor Ingason and Haukur Ingi Jonasson at Reykjavik University in Iceland. Active researchers and educators in the field of project management for many years, they are the authors of Project Ethics published by Gower (UK) in 2013. See their author profiles below.

About the Authors

helgi-thor-ingasonHelgi Thor Ingason iceland-flag

Reykjavik, Iceland 

Helgi Thor Ingason (b. 1965) holds a PhD in process metallurgy from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), MSc in mechanical and industrial engineering from the University of Iceland and a Stanford Advanced Project Management Certification from Stanford University. He is an IPMA Certified Senior Project Manager (B level).

Dr. Ingason is an associate professor at Reykjavik University. He is the head of the MPM – Master of Project Management – program at the university. The research fields of Dr. Ingason range from quality- and project management to system dynamics and renewable energy, production, transport and utilization, changes in the energy infrastructure and energy carriers of the future.

Dr. Ingason has reported on his research at conferences and in several reviewed conference and journal papers. He is the co-author of 6 books in the Icelandic language on project management, strategic planning, product development and quality management. He is also a co-author (with Dr Haukur Ingi Jonasson) of the book Project Ethics, published by Gower in January 2013.

Dr. Ingason was interim CEO of Orkuveita Reykjavikur (Reykjavik Energy) from 2010 to 2011. A co-founder of Nordica Consulting Group, Dr. Ingason is a management consultant and a recognized speaker. In his spare time he plays piano and accordion with Icelandic jazz and world music ensembles. More information on Dr. Ingason can be found on www.academia.edu. Information about the MPM program at the University of Reykjavik can be found at http://en.ru.is/mpm/why-mpm/. Dr. Ingason can be contacted at [email protected].

haukur-ingi-jonassonHaukur Ingi Jonassoniceland-flag

Reykjavik, Iceland

Haukur Ingi Jonasson (Cand. Theol., University of Iceland; STM, PhD, Union Theological seminary; clinical training in pastoral counseling, Lennox Hill Hospital; psychoanalytical training, Harlem Family Institute New York City) is an assistant professor and chairman of the Board for the MPM – Master of Project Management – program at Reykjavik University in Iceland.

He is also a psychoanalyst in private practice and a management consultant at Nordic Consulting Group ehf. As a consultant, his clients have included energy companies, banks, hospitals, the government and other public and private organizations. Dr. Jonasson is also a mountain climber and a member of the Reykjavik Mountaineering Air Ground Search and Rescue Squad. He is co-author with Helgi Thor Ingason of Project Ethics, published by Gower (UK) in 2013. Dr. Jonasson can be contacted at [email protected]