Interview with Harold Kerzner


Project Management Education Is a Life-long Quest

Interview with Harold Kerzner, PhD

Author, Professor, Director
International Institute for Learning

Interviewed by Yu Yanjuan
Journalist, Project Management Review: PMR (China)

Introduction to the interviewee

Harold Kerzner, PhD, Professor, author, is now Executive Director for Project Management at the International Institute for Learning (IIL). Having worked in the field of Project Management for more than 5 decades, he is definitely a witness of PM development.

He has written many books with the 60th one, Innovation Project Management, to be published later this year; he also lectures across the globe. His tremendous achievements have won a lot of recognition. Northeast Ohio Chapter of the Project Management Institute in the United States gives out the Kerzner Award once a year to one project manager in Northeast Ohio that has demonstrated excellence in project management. The Project Management Institute (International 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 has 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.

He gains satisfaction from what he has been doing. He keeps in contact with practitioners and insists on learning. As he said, expanding the latest PM thinking is where his passion lies.



Project Management Is Satisfying and Rewarding

Q1.      How would you like to describe the profession of Project Management?

Harold Kerzner (Kerzner):    There are very few professions in the world that provide workers with the satisfaction they can receive from project management. Most employees in a company, including project team members, may see and work on only a small component of the end result. They perform their job, perhaps in the earlier stages of a project, and may never see how their efforts contributed to the final result. The PM sees an idea drawn on a piece of paper being developed into a final product. The PM sees the entire picture and how everything must come together. Seeing the achievements of one’s work and knowing that you may have been responsible for this, is highly rewarding.

Q2.      What would you like to say to the newcomers in this profession?

Kerzner:        Project management is probably one of the best career choices you can make. In my view, it provides life-long satisfaction. Take advantage of every educational opportunity in project management. You will never be sorry.


Project Management Is “Leadership without Authority”

Q3.   What have you learned from early experience of working as a project manager? What’s your advice for future PMs?

Kerzner:        One of the first projects I managed had about 340 team members, of which I had some degree of control or authority over only about nine of them. Many of the team members were several pay grades higher than me, and yet I found myself in a position of having to provide them with some form of project leadership. What I learned very quickly was that project management is “leadership without authority.” PMs may have little or no direct authority over their team, may have no input into the team’s wage and salary performance reviews, may have no control over whom the functional managers assign to the project, may not be able to remove team members that are performing poorly without the participation of their functional managers, and cannot force team members assigned to multiple projects to work on their project in a timely manner. PMs of the future must learn that they will not always have the authority they expect or the ability to control worker performance through the wage and salary performance review process.


Project Management Was My Deliberate Choice

Q4.      You’ve been in this profession for more than 5 decades. Is project management an accidental or deliberate choice for you? What are the milestones in your career? In your eyes, what changes have happened in the field of project management?


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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 (2019). Project Management Education Is a Life-long Quest: Interview with Harold Kerzner; Project Management Review; republished in the PM World Journal, Vol. VIII, Issue VII, August. Online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/pmwj84-Aug2019-Yanjuan-Interview-with-Harold-Kerzner.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 Magazine and website. She has interviewed over forty top experts in the field of project management. In the past, she has worked as a journalist and editor for other media platforms in China. She has also worked part-time as an English teacher in various training centers in Beijing. For work contact, she can be

reached via email yuyanjuan2005@163.com  or LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/yanjuanyu-76b280151/.