– By Dr. Emad Rahim, PMP, CSM, APMC
Dr. LaQue Perkins is an Assistant Professor of Project Management and Management at Saint Leo University. She has been with Saint Leo University for over 7 years, previously serving as an Adjunct Professor of Business and Human Resource. Currently she chairs the Academic Program Review for Project Management and the Global Accreditation Committee. She teaches a variety of courses for all higher education levels of project management. Dr. Perkins has also taught graduate Human Resources at Strayer University in Atlanta and undergraduate Contract Management at Trident University online. Prior to this life, Dr. Perkins served the Georgia Department of Defense, Georgia Air National Guard and United States Air Force for almost 21 years. She retired from the organization as Superintendent of Cyber Operations and Human Resources. She has filled a number of roles within the project management arena. She has presented at conferences, published scholarly journal articles and a book Yes I DID! Women Serve TOO! Dr. Perkins has attended the International Business Experience Costa Rica at UPEACE Centre for Executive Education. Dr. Perkins earned her Doctorate in Business Administration with a concentration in Management from Argosy University, Masters of Science In Human Resource Management from Troy State University, Master Business Administration in Project Management from Colorado Technical University Online, Bachelors of Arts in Human Resource Administration from Saint Leo University, Associates of Applied Science in Personnel Administration from the Community College of the Air Force as well a Professional Manager certification, Six Sigma Yellow Belt, and a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from Project Management Institute. Dr. Perkins is married with two young sons. I love sharing my journey with others to lighten their loads, the destination is the same for those who choose to travel it.
How did your project management career get started?
My project management career began while serving in the United States Air Force. As we all know missions have the definition of a project and its roots as well. As human resource professionals, we were tasked with a number of projects that required an emphasis on time, scope and cost. Quality is ingrained in most every Airmen from day one; as we are constantly reminded “Service Before Self” and “Excellence In All We Do” are our values. We are responsible for someone’s life (livelihood) at the end of the day, it may even be your own, and that always put a different perspective on team work for me. I was assigned and led projects with virtual teams and in varied locations throughout the world.
How did you obtain your project management education and training?
I earned my MBA in Project Management from Colorado Technical University and they are Registered Education Provides and hold GAC. My training was obtained through a number of sources; US Grad School, PM Training, YouTube (Praizion and Alene) PMI Atlanta, HR University, PMP leaders Rita’s book and LinkedIn Learn. Of course project management is multi-faceted so my other degrees and military training were instrumental in assuring my success in all aspects of project management.
Can you please summarize your industry, and share how organizations are applying project management in the workplace?
My previous employer was the USAF and now I serve as a full-time Professor with Saint Leo University. Our organization ensures project management will be found in the workplace by educating students on the theoretical framework of project management. As professors we are required to stay abreast of trends and changes. Industry and academic leaders review our programs to ensure we provide students with skills and knowledge that allow them to be career ready. Industry leaders are frequently invited to be guest speakers in an effort to educate students on the needs of various organization as they prepare for transition into project management roles. Partnering with organizations to provide real-world projects for students to complete is one of my current initiatives.
Do you see any trends in your industry as it relates to project management and other related methodologies?
Yes, there are trends in educating students in project management. Providing technology that allows the student to gain actual experience through the courses and certification programs that prepare students for immediate certification testing and internship requirements are a couple of ways we invest in students to be sure they are ready to enter the project management field. Once a student earns the education hours or degree they are ready to move on and change their financial standing in society. Ensuring we provide them with the best educational experience is our goal at the end of the day.
What is your advice to people that are interested in pursuing a career in project management within your industry?
My advice to future project managers is to take the time to understand the industry’s culture. The theoretical foundation will be in place through certification and education. Understanding the needs of the sponsors, stakeholders and projects will further aide in developing a successful career. Your reputation will be not be questioned if you follow the path PMI has set forth for a project manager. Hone your soft skills as well as your technical skills and continue to educate yourself in all industries. To be an effective manager you have to know what you are selling, take the time to understand the product, service or result from every angle.
I noticed you have earned several certifications. What type of value has these certifications provided to you in your career?
The certifications I’ve received have added great value to my career. As I tell my students, organizations “prefer” a MBA or Master’s degree over a Bachelors today. Certifications set you apart of other candidates. My certifications allow me be a role model for students while helping them understand the importance of expectations and standards. My certifications have assisted me in networking with a new unique set of people, raised my worth and increased my ability to work on new projects.
Do you think the industry is catching up to better understanding the benefits of program management and portfolio management?
Industries are catching up in efforts to better understand the benefits of project management and portfolio management. Research is showing the need for project managers will increase by 2020. A number of institutions are offering certificate programs and full degree programs in project management. Universities and individual companies have taken on the task of offering certification training. All this in an effort to meet the demand for the future job market.
What are some of the major gaps you still see in the project management profession and what can industries do to address them?
Some of the major gaps I’ve found in project management are the swift destruction of the PMO and the variations of project management used. From an education and certification standpoint, processes are taught but some organizations only want to piecemeal the process. I know most organizations do not follow always follow standards but I feel this industry requires the standards to be followed to ensure longevity and success.
What type of things do you do to stay current in your field (professional development)?
I’ve found LinkedIn Learn, PM Times, PMI Podcasts and PMI Networking events add the most value to my professional development. Also, when I invite industry leaders to speak to my classes and always learn a nugget or three from them as well. Some of the organizations that have taken time to speak to our project management students are; Dana Murphy, PMP (Colonial Pipeline), Tom Lantzy, PMP (Coca-Cola), Tamara McLemore, PMP (Delta), Negendra Roy, PMP (VC, PMI Atlanta), Fred Dias, PMP (College Lead PMI Atlanta), Dr. Victor Oladapo, PHR (Lowes), David Jones, PMP, CSSBB, CSM (Cox Enterprise), Myra Baskerville, PMP, CSM, CSP (MBM Business Solutions, LLC) , Luis Hall (BLJ Group), Imgard Preval (SunTrust) and Kasandra Parks (Well Star Hospital).
What are your last thoughts or closing remarks to our project manager subscribers?
Networking and honing the necessary skill sets in your desired area of interest will be the catalyst for a fulfilling and successful career in project management.