Harrisburg University professor combines project manager experience and classroom teachings

What does it take it be a successful project manager? To Dr. Tom Sheives, it’s more than just understanding the technical aspects of the job. It takes a need to understand business and the leadership skills of those who directly work on projects.

“Project managers have to balance business and leadership skills that will allow them to lead a team – sometimes a whole company – toward success,” Sheives said.

The recently added full-time Associate Professor of Project Management at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology is also a co-lead for the Project Management graduate program.

As a former project management professional in various industries, Sheives brings more than 30 years of experience to a rapidly growing area of study at Harrisburg University.

Sheives previously lived in Texas and worked as a project manager while teaching part time at the graduate level in project management at the University of Texas in Dallas and also at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

One of his biggest accomplishments took a year and a half to complete. While working with the Panama Canal Authority through the University of Texas at Dallas, Sheives co-lead the development and delivery of training 175 Panamanians as project management leaders for what’s now a $7 billion project to widen the canal. The experience led him to publish “Opportunity unstuck!” in 2009, a book that focuses on helping people find success in their careers and personal lives.

When he moved to Maryland in 2011, Sheives worked as a senior IT project manager in the Washington, D.C. area. His desire to impact students sent him on the hunt for a university that would allow him to lead students desiring to enter the field.

He found that opportunity at Harrisburg University in January 2015 when he joined as a member of the corporate faculty. He became a full-time professor at HU in June 2015.

“I believe my background and passion in agile project management can make a big difference in the educational experience of the students at HU,” Sheives said. “The transition from corporate faculty to a full-time position has been a blast for me because I get to interact with some of the most intelligent people in the region, and I’m honored to consider myself part of the HU team.”

Sheives hopes to be able to contribute to Harrisburg University through his position as co-lead of the Project Management program by staying up to date on the demands of the industry while evaluating the needs of the program and elevating mentor opportunities that bring students in direct contact with professionals in the field.

Using practical methods and tools that apply to the industry, Sheives hopes to equip students for careers in the field of project management. He’s already developed and introduced a new 3-credit hour course called “Agile Management with SCRUM,” which focuses on software development as it applies to project management.

“One of the things I love about Harrisburg University is the opportunity to bring new ideas – and to help students cultivate their own ideas,” he said. “The excitement that comes from that kind of ingenuity is inspiring.”