Dan Kurber Shares How a PMIEF Scholarship Changed His Life


28 May 2020

Published inPM for Social Good

Topics Scholarships

Dan Kurber headshot

Dan Kurber shares how PMIEF helped him navigate the next phase of his career.

Dan Kurber believes in Project Management for Social Good®. It was a core part of his profession in the U.S. Army over the last eight years. Working his way up the ranks, Dan used his project management skill set daily as a commander of an infantry company with over 100 soldiers in it.

“I’m so grateful for the numerous project management opportunities it provided me, and the chance to lead and work with some of the best people I’ve ever known,” says Dan of his military experience.  

When looking ahead to the future, Dan knew he and his family wanted to put down roots and move towards a path that could help support that dream. This pivot led him to become an MBA candidate at the Yale School of Management. With a seasoned project management skill set, some encouragement from his family and friends, and a little help from PMI and PMIEF, he’s been able to successfully start the next chapter of his professional career.   

“PMI and PMIEF have been critical during this process. They’ve provided me resources, and a scholarship which is helping me pay my way to a Masters of Business Administration at the Yale School of Management,” he stated.


When PMIEF called and told me I got a scholarship, I just felt like they were saying 'we believe in you and we know you can do it.' That support and that confidence has really meant a lot to me.

Dan Kurber U.S. Army Company Commander & PMIEF Advocate

In the video and Q&A below, Dan shares how project management has made a difference in his personal and professional life, the impact of PMIEF's scholarship and awards program, and the first step you can take to get the next generation involved in project management today.


The PMI Educational Foundation: Tell us a little bit about yourelf.  

Dan Kurber (DK): I grew up in a small town in Alaska and went to college at the United States Military Academy. Upon graduation, I commissioned as an Infantry Officer in the United States Army and was thrust into various leadership and project management positions over eight and a half years. For the last two years of my time in the Army, I served as the commander of a company with around a hundred soldiers and managed dozens of training and logistics related projects. I loved my time in the Army but wanted to settle down and spend more time with my family.  Last fall, I left active duty and enrolled in the Yale School of Management's full-time MBA program. It has been an awesome experience and is helping me to transition from the military into the private sector. I'm currently spending the summer working as a project manager for a firm in Florida. 

PMIEF: How did you learn about The PMI Educational Foundation?   

DK: I learned about PMIEF from my brother. As a PMP-certified member of the Alaska Chapter of PMI, he mentioned that PMI gives scholarships through the educational fund and that I should look into it – I’m sure glad I did!  

PMIEF: Why do you feel it’s important for youth to learn project management skills? 

DK: Project management skills are important and practical skills in business and life in general. I think it’s critical for young people to learn the systematic approach to tackling problems that project management provides. As a young professional, it can be difficult to know what to do when given a task or solving a problem. The phases of project management, from initiating to closing, can be applied to almost any endeavor in life and provide a framework to resolving problems. Moreover, project management skills help to develop one's leadership abilities which will be beneficial to both the individual and the organization they are a part of. 

PMIEF: How has the PMIEF scholarship made an impact in your life? 

DK: The PMIEF scholarship I received has been tremendously helpful during my time at school. As a husband and father of three, the prospect of leaving my military career, paycheck, and benefits to pursue a different path was terrifying. The scholarship enabled me to take the risk of going back to school and to focus on my studies. I believe the scholarship is helping me to provide a better life for my family. I'm incredibly grateful for PMIEF's generosity. 

PMIEF: How can someone use project management skills for social good? 

DK: As I mentioned earlier, project management skills apply far beyond the private sector. All organizations need good leadership, including non-profit and volunteer organizations.  Knowledge and experience from project management can [be] used to directly help these organizations to help others and benefit society as a whole. Project management skills will ensure that products, buildings, and organizations are better, safer, and stronger in the future. 

PMIEF: How do you think learning a project management skill set has impacted your day-to-day life? 

DK: I think that learning project management skills and techniques have made me a much better leader, employee, and person. As a leader, project management provides a systematic framework for approaching problems and accomplishing tasks. It helps me to better consider stakeholders, decide when and where to delegate, and communicate with my team members. As an employee, project management skills enable me to better understand my bosses' vision, take more initiative when challenges arise, and work with others. Lastly, project management skills enable me to think outside the box and empathize with others. I'm grateful for PMIEF's efforts in promoting project management and enabling people to study it! 

PMIEF is honored to have Dan as a part of the PMIEF community and we thank him for his service! You can learn more about PMIEF’s scholarship and award opportunities by visiting our scholarships page. The upcoming deadline for a PMIEF professional development scholarship is 1 July 2020.