Interview with Gary Heerkens


Project Management is towards a More

Business-Savvy Perspective

Interview with Gary Heerkens

Author, Consultant, Speaker, Teacher
President, Management Solutions Group
New York, USA

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

Introduction to the interviewee

Gary R. Heerkens, PMP, CPM, MPM, CPC, CIPM, MMC, CBM, CIPA, PEng, MBA, IAPPM Fellow, AAPM Fellow, is a licensed Professional Engineer in New York State and holds an MBA from the Rochester Institute of Technology. He is now president of Management Solutions Group, which provides innovative project ​management educational programs and enterprise-wide project management services. Prior to founding Management Solutions Group, he spent over 20 years managing projects for Eastman Kodak.

Gary R. Heerkens is a long-standing provider for Project Management Institute’s (PMI) SeminarsWorld program, and was project management training provider for the Purchasing Management Association of Canada. He is a frequent speaker and training provider at international PM conferences and PMI chapters. He’s been invited to speak at 16 PMI Global Congresses, as was an “encore presenter” at the 2007 and 2008 Global Congresses.  In 2015, he was invited to be the speaker representing the United States at the IPMA World Congress. He was one of just six people who were selected by PMI to develop a self-study PMBOK-based educational program.

Gary R. Heerkens was a contributing editor of PM Network magazine from 2009-2015, writing a quarterly column on “The Business of Projects”.  He has contributed articles to many popular project management newsletters and published many papers on a variety of project management topics. He authored the Project Management book in McGraw-Hill’s Briefcase Books Series; the second edition was published in 2013 and remains a leading seller today.  His popular book The Business-Savvy Project Manager was published in 2007.

He’s a member of several professional societies—PMI, IPMA (International Project Management Association), IAPPM (International Association of Program and Project Management), AAPM (American Academy of Project Management), and APBM (Association for Professionals in Business Management)—from which he holds several certifications, and has been honored as a Fellow of IAPPM and AAPM. In 2012, Solutions Network of Canada named him one of the 25 best project managers in North America. He served three terms as president of the PMI Rochester (NY) Chapter, from 1998 to 2001, and from 2005-2006.


Part I Core Business Functions of Projects

Q1.      Why did you think of writing the book The Business-Savvy Project Manager?

Gary R. Heerkens (Heerkens):    During my career as a project manager at Eastman Kodak Company, I was exposed to and participated in the financial aspects of the projects, such as project profitability. When I left to start my own training and consulting firm around 20 years ago, I was surprised to discover how isolated I had been at Kodak. Most project managers I encountered knew little or nothing about the financial and business aspects of the projects they managed. I saw that as a problem for individual project managers as well as for the image of the project management profession.

Q2.      Project management has a business function. Would you please explain it?

Heerkens:     There are actually two core business functions that projects fulfill. First, to satisfy the strategic and operational goals that organizational managers have laid out. Within this context, it is equally important to recognize that most projects are financial investments, and should therefore generate a positive cash flow. These two business functions are very simple, yet together they are quite profound.

And sadly, these functions are missing within the project landscape of many firms. I used to wonder why, and I have developed a theory. Although it seems to make perfect sense to treat projects as discrete investment opportunities, that’s not what many of today’s senior managers grew up with. Instead, they were accustomed to the grind of brainstorming project ideas, listing them out, then fighting amongst themselves to get their favorites on the list. This annual ritual was practiced year after year and after a while, it just seemed natural to think of the whole project thing as an operational function, not a business function. So, proper, business-based project analysis took quite a while to begin spreading.

Q3.      Your book The Business-Savvy Project Manager was published in 2007. As you know, the world has been changing since 2007. If there’s a chance to publish sequent editions, what improvements or changes do you want to make?


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 towards a More Business-Savvy Perspective: Interview with Gary Heerkens; Project Management Review; republished in the PM World Journal, Vol. XI, Issue III, March. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/pmwj115-Mar2022-Yanjuan-Interview-with-Gary-Heerkens.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/