Koren Supports Project Management as Path to “Endless Opportunities” for Youth
John Koren, PMP, knows project management skills “work everywhere, for everyone, in every situation.” It’s no wonder he’s bullish on sharing that skill set with young people so that they, too, may reap the benefits. He’s helping to make that happen by being a consistent donor to the PMI Educational Foundation (PMIEF).
A longtime member of the PMI Fort Worth Chapter where he volunteers on its Military Outreach Team, John is a former career officer with the U.S. Air Force and was a paratrooper for 27 years. He first became acquainted with project management when he was a squadron commander moving troops from one place to another. “That’s all pure project management,” he says, adding that he leveraged those skills when he went into the private sector. He obtained his Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification in 2003, and credits that decision with strong employment opportunities ever since. John is currently a senior infrastructure manager with a healthcare IT data company in Irving, Texas, USA.
“I’ve trained young people—specifically college seniors—in an intern program over the last few years,” says John, “and project management is one of the important components of that training. I’d like to see high school students—or even younger—embrace project management. Projects for youth don’t have to be big; they can be small. They will still teach young people how to plan, how to communicate, how to lead, how to follow through, how to achieve. Suddenly those young people look back and say, ‘Wow, this is good stuff. This really works.’ They become thirsty for more. The lights go on.”
John believes that project management training goes hand in hand with other achievement platforms, such as Scouting. “I used to be a Scout leader, and I see parallels. As Scouts achieve new ranks, they work their way toward a culminating [Eagle Scout] project. It ties together nicely. If we can help project management practices take hold during those formative years, students can come out of high school and go right into project management programs at a college level. It will benefit the students, and it will benefit project management to have ‘young blood’ coming into the field.”
PMIEF holds a singular place in John’s heart as the leading pulse behind the effort he believes so necessary. “PMIEF provides the materials, information, and education necessary for young people to learn about, and move into, project management,” declares John. “It reinforces skill sets and interpersonal relationships in a very professional way. It introduces youth to rules, ethics, peer behavior, and offers a chance to observe, listen, and learn. And it is all very altruistic. It encourages young people to transform in a safe and positive way.”
John plans to continue giving to PMIEF and hopes other project managers will do the same. “As project managers we earn a wage that allows us to reach into our pockets and give to the next generation. It is a moral obligation in my eyes,” he says. “We have this wonderful discipline, educational resources from PMIEF, and the full support of PMI, which is a great institution in the U.S. and throughout the world. Supporting PMIEF allows us to influence young people by grabbing their attention, harnessing their motivation, and tapping into their enthusiasm. PMIEF gives them a framework for success and provides endless opportunities that are self-reinforcing. That is truly powerful.”
Married and father of three grown children, John has recently become certified in agile practices, and says, “I am a longtime, strong PMI member, and an avid supporter of PMIEF—and always will be. I have no regrets when it comes to my career in project management. I want young people to be able to look back and say the same thing someday.”