Taiwo Abraham, an international graduate student from Nigeria in the UTRGV Robert C. Vackar College of Business and Entrepreneurship, says he was stunned when he found out he had won.

The competition was the prestigious Project Management Institute Educational Foundation’s James R. Snyder International Student Paper of the Year Award EMEA Region 2018, which recognizes a research paper that shows excellence in student development of concepts in project management.

“I was reading the email and when I saw ‘Congratulations.’ I was like, ‘What?’ Then I read the rest, and I got on the phone with my friends who are in the same profession to tell them!”

The PMIEF picks the winning paper based on the “research and creative effort that are best directed toward advancing the concepts, tools and techniques of managing project-oriented tasks.”

Abraham’s paper was titled “PMP Longevity: Implementation Phase Inputs and PMO-Operations Management Integration,” and focuses on how organizations can more successfully implement project management office (PMO) by finding out what factors can affect the longevity of the PMO during implementation, including implementation team composition, project championship, organizational change readiness, strategic goal alignment and project governance.

Abraham previously had entered the paper in the Vackar CoBE Graduate Symposium back in February and placed second.

After that recognition – and a nudge from his supervisor, Dr. Joo Jung, UTRGV professor of Management in the Vackar CoBE – he worked on the application for the PMIEF award.

“The research symposium on Feb. 28 partially encouraged me,” he said. “I saw I had something in my paper. I didn’t know it would go all the way to win such an award. I think my professor was very essential in this whole process, as well. He was the one that kept telling me to toss in this paper.”

Jung said Abraham is always full of energy, eager to make the most of his opportunities.

“Coming from a background with extreme life odds, he has acquired for himself the kind of grit that would see anyone through tough challenges,” Jung said. “He combines a rare blend of cognitive and emotional intelligence.”

Abraham received his Project Management Professional certification from the Project Management Institute after taking the exam in Nigeria. He knew an MBA would be valuable, so he started searching for a university that was affordable, had an Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business-accredited MBA program and had year-round enrollment.

UTRGV popped up in his search, met his criteria and offered more, such as study abroad options, the International Student Services office, and a new and different culture.

He applied to UTRGV as an international student and started in January 2017, but prior to his acceptance, he visited the university.

“Everyone that I have met at the university has been very helpful,” Abraham said. “I know I struggled with some classes in my previous education in Nigeria, but the professors here are always open to helping you.”

Abraham participated in UTRGV’s Study Abroad course on Project Management in Asia last year. He is a graduate assistant now, and is in the process of completing his MBA. He said he does plan to continue at UTRGV in the management PhD program in fall 2019.

“My goal has always been to participate in the development of project management knowledge at a global level,” he said. “I’ve always had this idea I want to be one of the top, most successful project management professionals. When I think about that, one of the ways I can achieve that is by being able to contribute to the field in terms of research – participating in significant projects and consulting with government agencies on sensitive projects that are critical to the development of the government and countries.”

In summer 2018, he was hired for a project management role by Horizant Solutions, Canada’s biggest vendor for ARCHIBUS, an integrated workplace management software. 

Abraham will be joining other project management professionals and awardees at the PMI Global Conference from Oct. 5 – 8 in Los Angeles, California, His round-trip ticket to the conference is courtesy of PMIEF, along with a cash prize for his winning entry.