Project Management for Executives

  • In the last few years, project management has changed from a tools and methods approach to a holistic, contextual, behavioral and technical competency-based discipline. In fact, at a societal level, project management principles are being diffused throughout the public, private, industrial and sectors.

    Organizations increasingly rely on professional project or program managers to drive complex projects that are critical to the firm's financial health and success. Quite often, those leading project teams have little or no project management experience. Project Management for Executives provides the language, philosophy and tools necessary to lead projects from inception through completion.

  • At a Glance

    When considering stakeholders, the speed of communications and data flow, and enterprise-wide integrated systems and processes, the science of project management is becoming more complex. Virtually all businesses today run projects that are becoming extremely challenging due to increased product complexity and the need for cross-functional expertise. Challenges to effective project management leadership include managing and mitigating risk, defining and managing project scope and expenses, successfully navigating uncertainty, and aligning and motivating multinational project teams.

    Customers demand greater functional integration in their products along with a reduction in size, weight and energy consumption. Project management methodologies provide structure to planning activities, utilizing resources, and minimizing risks. Professionals conceptualizing and managing projects must be skilled in the methods and tools that support project management. In this course, you will acquire the knowledge and skills to approach projects with confidence.

    The Program

    During the two days of meetings, we will consider project selection and portfolio management, planning and organization, scope and requirements determination, control, network analysis, and Monte Carlo simulation for project risk analysis. Topics covered will include resource allocation, project monitoring, and project contracting the goal of which is to prepare participants for the planning and execution of large-scale projects. The instructors will lead a discussion of the continuum of project management frameworks from traditional to agile and the many interactions in between; and, the challenges of managing projects as an entrepreneur and those associated with managing global, multinational projects including how to manage an entire portfolio.  Finally, we will raise your awareness of behavioral decision-making biases that come to play in project settings. Using a vibrant, interactive, case-based discussions, we will address these topics from a strategic and decision-oriented perspective using a broad set of industry domains such as construction, website and software development, new product development, pharmaceuticals, and event planning. 

    Where You'll Excel

    The course will provide a deeper understanding of:

    • Fundamentals of Project Management: lifecycle, project management continuum: (traditional - agile), setting project objectives, scoping a project, scheduling projects (fundamentals of networks), resource allocation optimization and heuristics, project control, overview of project management tools.
    • Organizing Projects: conceptual design, estimating and scheduling, and contracts.
    • Risk and Uncertainty: risk identification and uncertainty theory, assessment for international projects, risk mitigation strategies, managing trade-offs in a high-risk environment, planning schedule and costs in light of uncertainties, momentum, failure and recovery.
    • Portfolio and Project Selection: Portfolio > Program > Project. Project selection and coordination and linkage to business strategy.
    • Project Planning and Human Behavior: human behavior biases, psychological safety and behavioral operations, the planning fallacy and its possible remedies.
    • Agile Planning and Estimation: the need for an iterative process, the Agile and Kanban methods, implementing Agile in a global, multinational setting.
    • Competencies for PMs: project management competencies, leadership personality factors, performance-based competencies, global performance-based competencies.
    • Leadership and the Project Manager: project champions, stakeholder theory, how the project manager leads, team building and motivating teams,  managing multinational project teams, and public/private.
    • Leading Complex Virtual Teams
    • Global Issues: managing multinational teams, global risk, success factors for global teams and a survey of unique project management methods.


    An excellent educational experience, enriched by the performance of true subject matter experts, for professionals responsible for leading efficient project management.

    Alvaro Galvez, VP of Integration, Mortenson Dental Partners

    The classroom interaction and personal experiences with project management brought a diverse appreciation to case studies and different activities. I was able to hit the ground running with new tools the day after the course ended.

    Ben Smith, Director of Business Strategy, National Fruit Product Company

    I left feeling inspired and motivated to put my new skills to work!

    Gina Ziegenbein, Property Management, NOAA


    • Introduction to Project Management
    • Portfolio and Selection Analysis
    • Stakeholders, Risk, Failure and Recovery
    • Global Project Management
    • Planning Fallacies and Behavioral Biases
    • Project Complexity
    • Stakeholder Management
    • Agile Methods
    • Risk Analysis Methods


    • The ability to take an idea, develop a scope of work or determine requirements, estimate the cost and schedule, and complete a risk analysis.
    • Exposure to a suite of professional project management tools and techniques available to help control the project from design through delivery.
    • Through the interactive approach to instruction, the ability to evaluate risk as well as to organize, track and reasonably report on progress towards predetermined milestones.
    • An understanding of the diverse nature and interest of project stakeholders; how to determine who are the project champions; and, how to communicate and coordinate their participation.
    • Through a discussion of portfolio management theory and practice, an understanding of why certain projects are selected and others rejected and how these decisions relate to an organization's strategy.



    This course is designed for leaders who manage complex projects but are not technical project managers (or PMI professionals). Those who work in cross-functional teams, manage multiple initiatives or are responsible for delivering results on defined strategies will benefit from this course.





    Yael Grushka-Cockayne-  Assistant professor Yael Grushka-Cockayne's research and teaching activities focus on forecasting, project management, strategic and behavioral decision making. Her research is published in numerous academic and professional journals, and she is a regular speaker at international conferences in the area of decision analysis, project management and management science. She is also an award-winning teacher, winning the Darden Morton Leadership Faculty Award in 2011, the University of Virginia's Mead-Colley Award in 2012 and the Darden Outstanding faculty award in 2013.  Yael teaches the core Decision Analysis course and an elective she designed on Project Management.  Before starting her academic career, she worked in San Francisco as a marketing director of an Israeli ERP company. As an expert in the areas of project management, she has served as a consultant to international firms in the aerospace and petroleum industries. She is a UVA Excellence in Diversity fellow and a member of INFORMS, the Decision Analysis Society, the Operational Research Society and the Project Management Institute (PMI). She is also currently the Secretary/Treasurer of the INFORMS Decision Analysis Society.

    Gerald D. Starsia- Gerry Starsia joined the Curry School as associate professor and executive director in February 2016. Previously, he served as the senior associate dean and chief operating officer at the Darden School of Business and as a member of its Technology and Operations Management area. In addition to his administrative duties, he teaches Leadership and Project Management in the undergraduate, graduate and executive programs at both McIntire and Darden, teaches an online course titled: Leadership and Management at McIntire, and in the spring of 2015 is leading a Global Business Experience course (GBE) titled: Leading Complex Global Projects. His academic interests are in the areas of leadership, project management and strategy. Prior to his tenure at UVA, he spent over 20 years in the real estate and construction industries in roles including project manager, project executive, principal and consultant and for over a decade as founder and CEO of a real estate development company located in the northeastern U.S. specializing in medical design/build projects.

    Location & Accommodations

    Darden School of Business 
    Charlottesville, Virginia

    As a participant, you'll stay in a private room at the Inn at Darden, our highly rated hotel adjacent to the classroom buildings and dining center. Accommodations are included in your tuition.

    Tuition & Certificates

    $3,450 covers materials, meals and accommodations at the Inn at Darden.

    By taking this course, you will earn a half week of credit toward a Certificate of Specialization.

    The material covered in this course counts toward the 35 Contact Hours of Project Management Education, as PDUs for PMP credential holders, and is consistent with the knowledge areas and processes outlined in the current edition of A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK ® Guide) - Fifth Edition.