Interview with Dr. Harold Kerzner and Dr. Al Zeitoun


Project Management Is a Strategic Competency

Interview with Dr. Harold Kerzner

and Dr. Al Zeitoun

Authors, Executive Advisors, Thought Leaders
Project Management and Global Future of Work
International Institute of Learning
New York, Florida & Maryland USA

Interviewed by Yu Yanjuan
Journalist, Project Management Review: PMR (China)
International Correspondent, PM World Journal

Introduction to the two interviewees:

Dr. Harold Kerzner is Senior Executive Director for Project Management for the International Institute for Learning (IIL). He has an MS and Ph.D. in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Utah State University. He is a prior Air Force Officer and spent several years at Morton-Thiokol in project management. He taught engineering at the University of Illinois and business administration at Utah State University, and for 38 years taught project management at Baldwin-Wallace University. He has published or presented numerous engineering and business papers and has had published more than 60 college textbooks/workbooks on project management, including later editions. Some of his books are (1) Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling and Controlling; (2) Project

Management Metrics, KPIs and Dashboards, (3) Project Management Case Studies, (4) Project Management Best Practices: Achieving Global Excellence, (5) PM 2.0: The Future of Project Management, (6) Using the Project Management Maturity Model, and (7) Innovation Project Management. He is a charter member of the Northeast Ohio PMI Chapter.

Dr. Kerzner has traveled around the world conducting project management lectures for PMI Chapters and companies in Japan, China, Russia, Brazil, Singapore, Korea, South Africa, Canada, Ireland, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Poland, Croatia, Mexico, Trinidad, Barbados, The Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Venezuela, Columbia, United Arab Emirates, France, Italy, England, and Switzerland. He delivered a keynote speech at a PMI Global Congress on the future of project management.

His recognitions include:

  • The University of Illinois granted Dr. Kerzner a Distinguished Recent Alumni
  • Award in 1981 for his contributions to the field of project management.
  • Utah State University provided Dr. Kerzner with the 1998 Distinguished Service Award for his contributions to the field of project management.
  • The Northeast Ohio Chapter of the Project Management Institute gives out the Kerzner Award once a year to one project manager in Northeast Ohio that has demonstrated excellence in project management. They also give out a second Kerzner Award for project of the year in Northeast Ohio.
  • The Project Management Institute (National Organization) in cooperation with IIL has initiated the Kerzner International Project Manager of the Year Award given to one project manager yearly anywhere in the world that demonstrated excellence in project management.
  • The Project Management Institute also gives out four scholarships each year in Dr. Kerzner’s name for graduate studies in project management.
  • Baldwin-Wallace University has instituted the Kerzner Distinguished Lecturer
  • Series in project management.
  • The Italian Institute of Project Management presented Dr. Kerzner with the 2019
  • International ISIPM Award for his contributions to the field of project management.

Dr. Harold Kerzner can be contacted at hkerzner@hotmail.com.

Dr. Al Zeitoun is a Future of Work, business optimization, and operational performance excellence thought leader with global experiences in strategy execution. His experiences encompass leading organizations; delivering their Enterprise Digital and Business Transformation; guiding fitting frameworks implementations; and using his empathy, engineering insights, and collaboration strengths to successfully envision new business models and execute complex missions across diverse cultures globally.

In his position as the Executive Director for Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, Abu Dhabi, UAE, he was responsible for creating the strategy execution framework, achieving transformation benefits, governance excellence, and creating the data analytics discipline necessary for delivering on the $40B complex country energy mission roadmap.

At the McLean, USA HQ of Booz Allen Hamilton, Dr. Zeitoun strategically envisioned and customized digitally enabled EPMO advisory, mapped playbooks, and capability development for clients’ Billions of Dollars strategic initiatives. Furthermore, he led the firm’s Middle East North Africa Portfolio Management and Agile Governance Solutions. With the International Institute of Learning, Dr. Zeitoun plays a senior leader and global trainer and coach. He was instrumental in driving its global expansions, thought leadership, and operational excellence methodology to sense and shape dynamic ways of working across organizations worldwide. He speaks English, Arabic, and German and enjoys good food, travel, and volunteering. Dr. Al Zeitoun can be contacted at zeitounstrategy@gmail.com.


Q1.      Based on your observation, what are the challenges facing project management now? What should we pay attention to in the era of PM 4.0?

Harold Kerzner / Al Zeitoun (Kerzner/Zeitoun):         For decades, project management appeared restricted to traditional or operational projects where the requirements were well-defined at the onset of the project. We used to tell students to initiate planning, scheduling, and budgeting activities after you get a scope statement or detailed statement of work. The result was that most of the projects could be executed using a one-size-fits-all methodology. Most traditional or operational projects used the one-size-fits-all approach.

Today, we are seeing new types of projects coming into the mix. These new projects are strategic in nature, such as innovation, research & development, new product development and strategic planning initiatives. Many of the traditional project management processes, tools, and techniques used in operational projects do not apply to strategic or innovation projects.

Today, executives have realized the value in using project management for all types of projects. Flexible approaches such as agile and Scrum have been found to be more effective than the traditional waterfall approach on many projects. We find the key here is to not think ‘either or’, but choose a mix that most fits the project’s context.

Another challenge is that many strategic and innovation projects start out with an idea, rather than a well written statement of work or business case. Strategic projects have a greater likelihood of being impacted by even small changes in the enterprise’s environmental factors. In addition, decisions in strategic projects entail a higher degree of business risk than with the traditional projects. New metrics will be required to determine the true status and value of strategic and innovation projects. These challenges are now changing the knowledge requirements and the mix of skills that we expect project managers to possess in the future.

Project Management (PM) 4.0 is strategic and, deep understanding of customer needs, and creating a set of principles that must be practiced by forward-thinking organizations who want to grow, adapt and succeed. PM 4.0 is an area of emerging interest to us, because it is well suited for projects of significant strategic performance for the future of organizations.

Q2.      As to how to deal with Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity (VUCA), do you have some suggestions for professionals?


To read entire interview, click here

Editor’s note: This interview was first published in PMR, Project Management Review magazine, China.  It is republished here with the permission of PMR. The PM World Journal maintains a cooperative relationship with PMR, periodically republishing works from each other’s publications. To see the original interview with Chinese introduction, visit PMR at http://www.pmreview.com.cn/english/

How to cite this interview: PMR (2022). Project Management Is a Strategic Competency: Interview with Dr. Harold Kerzner and Dr. Al Zeitoun; Project Management Review; republished in the PM World Journal, Vol. XI, Issue IV, April. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/pmwj116-Apr2022-Yanjuan-Interview-with-Kerzner-and-Zeitoun.pdf

About the Interviewer

Yu Yanjuan

Beijing, China


Yu Yanjuan (English name: Spring), Bachelor’s Degree, graduated from the English Department of Beijing International Studies University (BISU) in China. She is now an English-language journalist and editor working for Project Management Review (PMR) Magazine and website. She has interviewed over sixty top experts in the field of project management. Before joining PMR, she once worked as a journalist and editor for other media platforms in China. She has also worked part-time as an English teacher in training centers in Beijing. Beginning in January 2020, Spring also serves as an international correspondent for the PM World Journal.

For work contact, she can be reached via email yuyanjuan2005@163.com  or LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/yanjuanyu-76b280151/.

To view other works by Spring, visit her author showcase in the PM World Library at https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/yu-yanjuan/