Myron L. Pope, Principal Customer Experience Program Manager, Microsoft

Myron L. Pope has dedicated nearly 30 years to the field of higher education. Having held diverse positions across multiple institutions including the University of Alabama, University of Oklahoma, and University of Central Oklahoma, Pope has amassed a wealth of experience in staff roles, faculty positions, and executive leadership. His expertise spans higher education administration, change management, student success, and inclusive excellence, making him a trusted consultant and advisor throughout his career.  His academic journey includes earning degrees in History/English (BA) and Higher Education Administration (MA, EdD) from the University of Alabama. Currently, he is a valued member of the Education Engineering Team at Microsoft.


During my tenure at the University of Central Oklahoma, our primary focus was creating an enriching learning environment to nurture productive, creative, ethical, and engaged citizens and leaders. We facilitated student growth through immersive experiences spanning six core areas, aiming to cultivate interdisciplinary skills and broaden students’ understanding of their relationships with themselves, others, their community, and the environment. Transformative Learning empowers students to drive their learning journey through active engagement and reflection. These six core areas encompassed discipline knowledge, global and cultural competencies, health and wellness, leadership, research, creative, and scholarly activities, as well as service learning and civic engagement. By immersing themselves in their chosen fields, students acquired specialized knowledge essential for their academic pursuits and future careers. Exposure to diverse perspectives fostered cultural awareness, empathy, and adaptability. Prioritizing physical, mental, and emotional well-being equipped students with strategies for maintaining a balanced lifestyle and fostering personal resilience. Cultivating leadership skills prepares students to lead with integrity and influence positive change in their communities. Encouraging exploration and innovation honed critical thinking, creativity, and intellectual curiosity. Active participation in community service projects and civic engagement initiatives instilled a sense of social responsibility, contributing meaningfully to society. Reflecting on my collaborative work with colleagues during my 15-year tenure, I recognize the need to reassess our approach considering the new realities that graduates face.

My recent experience at Microsoft over the past two years has provided valuable insights into expanding the concept of Transformative Learning. Today’s workforce demands effective project management skills across all fields of study, not just engineering or business. They have become indispensable for all college graduates, and as I reflect on my career, I have utilized these skills in each of my jobs. Acquiring and honing project management skills are crucial for success in the competitive job market, making it imperative for college students and future graduates to prioritize them. Allow me to offer insights into the importance of project management and strategies for integrating project management education into higher education curricula.

Adaptability in a Rapidly Changing Environment

In contemporary workplaces, change is constant. Projects evolve, priorities shift, and unforeseen challenges arise. Project management equips graduates with the ability to adapt to these changes efficiently. Regardless of their field, graduates must navigate through uncertainty and complexity. Project management provides them with frameworks to plan, execute, and adjust strategies as circumstances demand.

Collaboration and Teamwork

Projects often involve collaboration among diverse teams. Effective project management fosters teamwork and enhances communication skills, enabling graduates to work harmoniously with colleagues from various disciplines. College graduates will encounter collaborative environments in their careers, where the ability to coordinate efforts, delegate tasks, and resolve conflicts is essential. Project management equips them with these interpersonal skills.

Time and Resource Management

Efficient utilization of time and resources is critical in any profession. Project management teaches graduates how to allocate resources judiciously, meet deadlines, and optimize workflows. Whether managing a marketing campaign, conducting research, or developing software, graduates must balance competing priorities. Project management provides the tools to prioritize tasks, manage schedules, and allocate resources effectively.

Strategic Thinking and Problem-Solving

Project management encourages graduates to think strategically and anticipate potential obstacles. By breaking down complex problems into manageable tasks, they can devise innovative solutions. In today’s dynamic job market, employers seek candidates who can solve problems creatively and think critically. Project management fosters these qualities by promoting structured problem-solving methodologies.

Accountability and Responsibility

Successful project management requires accountability and responsibility at every stage. Graduates learn to take ownership of their tasks, set clear objectives, and evaluate their performance against predefined metrics. Employers value individuals who demonstrate accountability and take initiative. Project management instills a sense of ownership and empowers graduates to drive projects to successful outcomes.

Enhanced Employability

Irrespective of their major, graduates with project management skills are highly sought after by employers. These skills enhance their employability and open doors to diverse career opportunities. Many industries, including healthcare, education, and government, require professionals who can manage projects efficiently. By acquiring project management skills, graduates can differentiate themselves in the job market and pursue rewarding careers.

Career Advancement

Project management skills are not only valuable for securing entry-level positions but also for advancing in one’s career. As graduates gain experience, these skills enable them to take on leadership roles and lead teams effectively. Employers recognize the value of employees who can drive projects to successful completion. Graduates with project management expertise are well-positioned to advance into managerial and executive positions within their organizations.

Lifelong Learning and Development

Project management is a skill set that continues to evolve over time. By investing in their professional development, graduates can stay abreast of emerging trends and best practices in project management. Continuous learning is essential for career growth and staying competitive in today’s job market. Project management provides graduates with a foundation for lifelong learning and professional development.

Implications for Higher Education

Integrating project management skills into higher education curricula requires a multifaceted approach that aligns with the needs of both students and employers. Strategies for implementation include:

  • Cross-Disciplinary Courses: Offering interdisciplinary courses that introduce project management concepts applicable across various fields.
  • Specialized Tracks or Concentrations: Developing specialized tracks or concentrations in project management within existing degree programs.
  • Experiential Learning Opportunities: Prioritizing experiential learning opportunities, such as internships, cooperative education programs, and capstone projects.
  • Certification Programs: Collaborating with professional organizations to offer certification programs in project management.
  • Integration into Core Curriculum: Incorporating project management concepts into the core curriculum of undergraduate programs.
  • Faculty Development Initiatives: Investing in faculty development initiatives to ensure educators are equipped with the knowledge and skills to effectively teach project management.
  • Collaborative Projects and Research: Encouraging collaborative projects and research initiatives that require students to work in teams and manage projects.
  • Industry Partnerships: Establishing partnerships with industry organizations and employers to facilitate the development of project-based learning initiatives.

Implementing these strategies enables higher education institutions to seamlessly integrate project management education into their curricula. This transformative approach ensures that students are equipped with the essential skills and competencies required to thrive in today’s fast-paced and project-centric workplaces. By mastering project management principles, students are better prepared to navigate complex challenges, lead teams effectively, and drive projects to successful outcomes. This curricular evolution not only enhances students’ employability upon graduation but also empowers them to excel as proactive and adaptable professionals in an ever-evolving global landscape.

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