Project manager insights: An analysis of career progression

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James W Marion
Tracey M Richardson
Matthew P Earnhardt


The project manager is key to the success of any project.  But the path to becoming a successful project manager is ill defined.  In this study, the authors analyzed interview results of 87 project managers’ responses to questions associated with entry into the field, career progression, and advice for the new project manager, seeking to better understand practicing project manager career progression.  Qualitative analysis techniques were used to identify recurring themes from the interview summaries. The themes and the resulting conceptual framework provide evidence that supports the development of successful project manager career path. Further, the results suggest individual project management competencies in soft skills as a key enabler of project execution. 

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Research Articles (PEER REVIEWED)
Author Biographies

James W Marion, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

James W. Marion has a Doctor of Philosophy in Organization and Management with an Information Technology Management Specialization (Capella University). He holds an MS in Engineering (University of Wisconsin-Platteville), and an MSc and MBA in Strategic Planning (The Edinburgh Business School of Heriot-Watt University). He is an Assistant Professor with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Worldwide. His experience includes multiple product launches in the US, Europe and Asia, and significant experience with Japanese companies. He was selected to attend Panasonic’s Senior Executive Development Program in Osaka Japan in 2002. He received the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification in September 2007. He has been teaching since 2009 for Embry-Riddle in the Master of Science in Project Management Program, and became Chair of the MS in Engineering Management Program in 2013.

Tracey M Richardson, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Assistant Professor

Department of Management Sciences

College of Business

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Matthew P Earnhardt, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Matthew P. Earnhardt holds a PhD in Organizational Leadership with a Global Leadership Emphasis (Regent University). He has an undergraduate degree in Psychology and a Master of Business Administration (Liberty University). He is an Assistant Professor with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University–Worldwide. Prior to joining ERAU, he was the coordinator for the BUS, MAN, MAR, REE disciplines at the Community College of Aurora School of Business in addition to teaching at a variety of universities and colleges in the Denver, Colorado area. He has a diverse background in signals analysis in the military and as a defense contractor.





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