Fogelman College of Business & Economics Collaborates With Project Management Institute
to Create Unique Learning Experience for Students
In a business world that is increasingly driven by matrix organizational structures
and project-based work, it is now critical for business professionals to be well-versed
in project management tools and methods. With this in mind, the Department of Management
Information Systems (MIS) at the Fogelman College of Business & Economics has partnered
with the Memphis chapter of the Project Management Institute (PMI) to create a unique
learning experience for business students that brings real-work project experience
into the classroom.
The collaboration involves twenty project professionals from the PMI chapter (representing
local business organizations such as AutoZone, CIBER, FedEx, Flextronics, International
Paper, and Sedgwick CMS) working closely with student groups throughout a semester-long
course as mentors and hands-on coaches to complete a semester-long project pertaining
to the development of a new state-of-the-art business system. The twenty project professionals,
all of whom hold the Project Management Professional (PMP) designation also provided
guest lectures throughout the semester on cutting-edge project management topics.
The PMI chapter also sponsored a Project Management Contest to motivate and reward
the student project team that achieved the best project performance and results.
The collaboration which was started in 2006 and is now in its fifth semester brings
authentic, real-world project experience to undergraduate majors enrolled in the Strategic
Information Technology Project Management course that is coordinated by Dr. Robin Poston and the new advanced class on Project Management Tools and Leadership coordinated
by Dr. Sandra Richardson. This semester, 34 students and 15 students, respectively, participated in the collaborative
learning initiative in these courses. The first course is offered to all business
majors but is mandatory for all MIS majors. Dr. Robin Poston noted that: “on graduating and joining the labor force, our students are often immediately thrown
into a multitude of project teams comprising different co-workers and involving a
multitude of technologies. It is imperative that we prepare them to succeed in such
environments that involve multi-tasking and project-based collaborative team-work.
We much value the support of the Project Management Institute volunteers in this regard.” Vic Pitchford, a student in the course observed: “taking this Project Management class is a valuable learning experience because it
has increased my awareness of how it is next to impossible for a complex or global
business to quickly implement new products and services without a skillful project
manager and project management team”.
Over the last three years, the MIS department of the College has successfully developed
a strong focus on project management skills and competencies for business students.
It has launched an undergraduate minor in project management for UoM undergraduates
and has a proposal for a graduate certificate in project management for business majors
working its way through the university’s academic approval processes.
The Fogelman College of Business & Economics and the Memphis chapter of the PMI share
a strong mutual commitment to promoting professionalism in Project Management by ensuring
theoretical and practical mastery of widely accepted tools and techniques while providing
a top-quality educational experience for University of Memphis students. At a celebration
of the collaboration that brought more than 100 project managers to the Fogelman College
of Business & Economics, Dean Rajiv Grover noted that: ”project management is part of the essential core of modern business operations and
such skills represent a must-have requirement for future managers in most industries
and sectors. This collaboration is a great example of how we are engaging innovatively
with our business stakeholders and regional industry groups to ensure that we produce
skilled graduates who can succeed in the complex environments of tomorrow”. In presenting excellence awards to student groups who participated, the President
of the Memphis Chapter of the Project Management Institute, Ms. Chandy Littlejohn
of First Tennessee/First Horizon, observed that “we hired one of the first graduates of this program and it has been one of the best
decisions we made. The students who participate in this program understand project
management tools, terminology, and the importance of good communication among project
team stakeholders. The new employee hit the ground running and has quickly become
a high achiever. We welcome you to a celebration of our collaboration, please join us by registering at www.PMImemphis.org”.
For more information, please contact Dr. Robin Poston or Dr. Sandra Richardson of the Department of Management Information Systems at (901) 678-4613.