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Thomas Kasel receives his award

UOPX doctoral candidate Thomas Kasel receives Kerzner Award for Excellence in Project Management

By University of Phoenix

Kasel encourages leaders to look beyond business values, embracing universal values as well.

This article is featured in the University’s 2019 Academic Annual Report. Click here to view the report in its entirety.

University of Phoenix doctoral studies candidate Thomas Kasel sees the need for a slight but significant shift to project management — consideration of universal human values in conjunction with business values.This idea, which has sparked worldwide interest – thanks, in part, to webinars and videos Kasel has shared through the Project Management Institute (PMI) – is also one of the reasons he received the 2019 Kerzner Award for Excellence in Project Management. Kasel was recognized for his proposal to reflect high priority on values in project management and business practices.

The idea is also part of the research topic for Kasel’s doctoral degree in business administration at UOPX. He first thought of it when listening to a lecture by Dr. Harold Kerzner, senior executive director at the International Institute for Learning (IIL), for whom the award is named. Kerzner is globally recognized as an expert on project, program and portfolio management, total quality management, and strategic planning.

The lecture was about managing projects based on their value to the business, which led Kasel to a cascade of new ideas to think beyond monetary value and focus instead on common human values.

“I wanted to look beyond business value and manage projects according to the core of who people are,” Kasel said. “That’s even more important in today’s culture and society.”

When Kasel began to share his ideas through PMI webinars and videos, they reached a global audience and garnered responses from around the world.

“I got messages and emails from every continent,” he said. “That’s what I wanted to do — plant the seed to get people thinking of the values their projects and business practices are based on.”

A professional project manager with extensive experience in the aerospace, automotive, IT and retail industries, Kasel holds a bachelor’s degree in computer systems and project management and a master’s degree in project management. He has worked for clients and projects worldwide.

A number of years ago, he considered pursuing a doctorate in project management. Kasel made extensive use of UOPX’s preparatory materials when he decided it was time.

“The University of Phoenix’s program was the one that worked for me,” Kasel said. “UOPX has a powerful learning environment. Plus, I liked their perspective on the SPL model — the scholar, practitioner, leader model.”

Dr. Hinrich Eylers, vice provost of doctoral studies at the University of Phoenix, praised Kasel’s achievement and dedication to the SPL model.

The University of Phoenix is always proud when one of our students receives an award like this one from the PMI,” Eylers said. “The Kerzner award reflects the scholar-practitioner-leader approach to educating our students, not to becoming researchers, but to become leaders who can do research.”

Kasel considers himself a spiritual and devoutly religious person. He believes everyone has a common set of values across cultures and religions — a “cosmic core.” Kasel said he hopes his research and dissertation will develop practices that will allow project managers to incorporate those universal, cosmic core values into their work.

Kasel has just begun the research phase of his doctoral program and has not begun outlining his dissertation. He is reluctant to start describing or prescribing how organizations can incorporate values into their business practices.

“I see the gap between values and practices in the project management industry, around the world,” he said. “That’s what I’m trying to promote — get people thinking about closing that gap.”

One way he is working on doing that is by passing his award on. The Kerzner Award itself consists of training valued at $5,000, plus associated travel expenses to attend the PMI Global Conference. Kasel has received permission from the IIL, the organization responsible for the Kerzner Award, to pass on the award to a promising student from his high school in Ohio. He is now working with the principal of the high school to set up an essay contest to determine the winner.

Beyond that, Kasel keeps busy, balancing his continuing project management work with being a graduate student. And after that, he plans to continue in project management — he’s just not sure right now what form that will take.

“I hope to leverage what I will learn, bring value and merit together with business practices,” he said. “I hope to spread the idea on running projects according to the values we hold in common…My motive is to make the world a better place.”