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Darden School of Business

Project Management for Executives

Introduction to Project Management for Executives
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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.


  • 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.

Who should attend

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.


Education: B.A., Hofstra University; MBA, University of Connecticut; Ph.D., University of Virginia Gerald Starsia is Darden's senior associate dean and chief operating officer and a member of the Technology and Operations Management area. With primary responsibilities at the senior leadership le...
Education: B.Sc., Ben-Gurion University; MSc, London School of Economics; Ph.D., MRes, London Business School Associate Professor Yael Grushka-Cockayne''s research and teaching activities focus on data science, forecasting, project management, and behavioral decision making. Her research is publ...


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