The Musicality of Project Management: Transparent Leadership and Sustainable Project Management


A series of short articles on The Role of Academic Institutions in Educating and Training Project Managers
Article 3 of 6

By Helgi Thor Ingason and Haukur Ingi Jonasson

Reykjavik University

Reykjavik, Iceland


There are many ways to approach professional project management. One way is to look at it from the perspective of transparent leadership and sustainable project management, and to see the needed competences as a musicality. This we do in a two semester diploma program that we created and have developed in our consulting company Nordica Consulting Group ehf. The origin of the program can be traced back to year 2002 when we sat down to discuss the content of PMBOK and IPMA ICB, possible future trends in project management, and to explore what creative insight we might have to offer to the field of project management from our own training and education.

This turned out to be a very interesting discussion. We knew from PMBOK and IPMA ICB that for projects to succeed project leaders need to master a number of different competences. Our diverse backgrounds and shared practical vision also made it clear that to excel, project leaders might want to master things that are only—if mentioned at all—slightly touched upon in the two standards.

Helgi Thor with his background from mechanical- and industrial engineering—who had been focusing on the energy intensive industry—had a keen eye on the technical aspect of project management. Haukur Ingi with a strong background in theology, psychology and philosophy—who had been working as hospital chaplain and psychoanalyst in New York City—had a keen eye on the human and cultural aspects of project leadership. Once we came back from pursuing our PhD education we decided to see what value it might have to bring together our different backgrounds and perspectives, and the field of project management seemed a perfect area for collaboration.

Our different backgrounds might have indicated that we were an “unlikely couple” from the outset. However, we had known each other since we had been singing in a choir side-to-side many of the masterpieces by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Verdi on stage—and through endless debates on all kinds of topics. On top of this we are both very practical guys who love to teach and counsel people, teams and organizations. We both saw our mission as educators and we wanted to “do the right things” and “doing the right things right” and encourage other people—especially people who played professional roles—to do the same.

We also called on our friend and mentor, Tryggvi Sigurbjarnarson, a senior project manager and a man who basically introduced project management as a professional discipline in Iceland. The three of us drafted a study program on undergraduate level, focusing on what seemed to be important aspects of contemporary project management, a mixture of practical tools and techniques of interest for anyone wanting to take on a project leadership role.

We knew that project management had conventionally been primarily defined as a technical discipline, but our conversations revealed a need for a an increased emphasis on intra-personal and inter-personal competences in the training of future project leaders. Project management was in our mind becoming a venue—not only for planning, organizing and execution—but also a fertile ground for human growth and development. Project management was an undertaking that allowed for maturation on individual, team, organizational and social levels—and this we all found to be exceedingly exciting. Based on this we created a coherent two semester program that was introduced to the Centre for Continuing Education at the University of Iceland. The visionaries at the centre accepted the program and the first students began in January 2003.


To read entire article (click here)

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

pmwj34-May2015-Ingason-HELGIHelgi Thor Ingason

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].


pmwj34-May2015-Ingason-HAUKURHaukur Ingi Jonasson

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]