A Star is Born


Musically Skyrocket your Project

to a Masterpiece



By Kimia Penton

Texas, USA


“Do you know that you have the soul of a musician?” asked my first-grade teacher. “No sir,” I said. “Daddy says its best if I become a doctor.” My father, a retired engineering professor, did not see the value or practical applications that a music education could provide at that time. Thankfully, my teacher persisted, music has been a significant part of my life, and my experience as an Internationally touring recording artist has contributed immensely to the success of my career in Project Management.

In this paper, I share perspectives from my experience of building a virtual Program Management Office. I outline ways in which I am prioritizing my teams’ development considering the changes that AI and Automation will bring to our careers. AI’s capabilities for enhanced analytics, performance metrics, and automation of administrative tasks, along with an increase in remote and virtual teams, has shifted my focus to the strategic, influential, innovative, collaborative, observant, and adaptable traits typically attributed to creative industries. I provide two case studies: a system integrations project that failed, and a construction project that exceeded expectations. I tie the successful project to improvisational management models from creative industries (Jureniene & Masaityte, 2023), adaptability and innovation (Kerekes & Heletya, 2020), emotional intelligence (Goleman, 1997), experimentation, team building, and a musician’s distinctive approach to the development of expertise (Brown, Sivaraman, Wilson, 2016).

The traits that are commonly attributed to musicians and creatives will become increasingly important as our profession evolves. In this paper, we will explore the benefits of improvisational and creative approaches from musicians in application of Project Management.

The Future of Project Management

Project Management has changed significantly over the past decade due to increasingly global, virtual, and hybrid teams. New models of working combined with emerging technologies will accelerate the transformation of the project management role from the once structured teams in the same office setting to geographically dispersed, technically savvy organizations operating in uncertain environments.

According to Gartner research, 80% of today’s Project Management tasks will be eliminated by 2030 due to AI. (Gartner, 2019) As Project Managers, we spend a significant amount of time each week updating status decks, project plans, dashboards, and manual reporting tools. Data collection, analysis and reporting will be taken over by AI and will happen at faster rates and with more accuracy. (Gartner, 2023) We will need to adopt new technologies and develop our technical capabilities to support our organizations and to remain competitive. In addition to technical skills needed to adopt and leverage new technologies and adapt to changing environments, the skills that will become even more important for Project Managers are influencing ability, coaching capabilities, teaching, adaptability, innovation, and improvisation. (HBR, 2023) These are often referred to as soft skills or Emotional Intelligence.


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Editor’s note: Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English.  Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright.  This paper was originally presented at the 16th UT Dallas PM Symposium in May 2024.  It is republished here with the permission of the author and conference organizers.

How to cite this paper: Penton, K. (2024). A Star is Born: Musically Skyrocket your Project to a Masterpiece; presented at the 16th University of Texas at Dallas Project Management Symposium in Richardson, TX, USA in May 2024; republished in the PM World Journal, Vol. XIII, Issue VII, July. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2024/07/pmwj143-Jul2024-Penton-A-Star-is-Board-mucially-skyrocket-your-project.pdf

About the Author

Kimia Penton

Denton, Texas, USA


Kimia Penton runs the Global Private Label PMO team at McKesson Corporation, a Fortune 10 company. With a background in Organizational Psychology and consulting, she is passionate about taking care of people and processes. Kimia also teaches Project Management at the University of Texas at Dallas and serves on the Board of Directors for the Project Management Institute, Dallas chapter as VP, Applied Project Management.

In addition to her work roles, Kimia is an advocate for developing ourselves holistically and nurturing creative outlets. As a professional musician and internationally touring recording artist, she has written and released five albums of original music focused on empowerment, growth, and contribution. She is also a TEDx speaker on the topic of overcoming career roadblocks. She can be contacted at kimiapenton@gmail.com

Learn about her music projects at https://kimiapmusic.com/