Linda Agyapong studied computer science for her bachelor’s degree, but quickly realized that it wasn’t quite the right career for her.
“All the programming, it was too technical,” she says. “I understood it, but I didn’t want to do that forever.”
While studying for her master’s degree in IT, she found a way to combine her interest in technology with a less-technical component: project management. “Project management is the bridge between the technical aspect of IT and the business team,” she says. “I love to interact with people, so it’s a perfect fit for me. I’m not too far from the tech side of it either.”
Moving Forward with a PhD
Agyapong, who is from Ghana , now works at JPMorgan Chase in Delaware as a compliance manager. Even though she has a career she loves, she always knew she wanted to pursue a doctorate and was delighted to find Capella’s PhD in Project Management program. “Many people are surprised,” she says. “They don’t know that this specialization exists.”
Once she started, Agyapong pursued her degree with focus and intensity. “I started in May 2014 and recently completed all of my coursework,” she says. She looks ahead to her dissertation as a way to test herself. “My target is to complete my dissertation in three quarters,” she said. “Is it realistic? Maybe not, but I will do my best. I love to stretch myself.”
Applying Coursework Today
Agyapong has been able to apply what she’s learned in the PhD program in her career. “The coursework really improved my communications,” she says. “I wasn’t much of a writer. But being a project manager, you have to communicate a lot. The PhD program has really improved my skills. Now my writing looks more professional, and I’m more confident. Ninety-five percent of project management is rooted in communication, so having to develop that skill is critical.”
Writing skills aren’t the only part of her education she can put to immediate use. “Just the deep knowledge of project management itself has helped me,” she says. “I have background from my work experience, but now I’m getting the perspective of the theory and expertise around it, which gives me a deeper understanding of how it does and can work.”
Skill Development Leads to Award and New Career Goals
Agyapong believes that Capella’s focus on writing helped her win the James R. Snyder International Student Paper of the Year Award from the Project Management Institute in 2015 for her paper, Impact of Quality and Risk Management on Information Technology Project Success. “The doctoral program gives you so much weekly writing practice,” she explains. “Without it, I’m sure I wouldn’t have won the award.”
The program has also opened up a potential new career avenue for her. “I’ve always wanted to teach,” she says. “I’m currently a tutor for FlexPath students, but I’d love to become more fully involved in the academic world.” Along with teaching in higher education someday, she’s currently involved in opening a school in Ghana. “I’ll be balancing two continents for a while,” she says. “I may be doing virtual lecturing, but eventually I plan to be back in Ghana full time.”
In the meantime, Agyapong continues to develop her knowledge in her doctoral courseroom, hands-on at her job, and through participation in the professional groups she belongs to, including the Project Management Institute. She will speak at two PMI events this year – one being the EMEA conference in Barcelona, Spain, and the other being the Africa regional conference to be hosted in Ghana. .
Asked what advice she’d give to people interested in pursuing a PhD in Project Management, she says, “If you want to do a PhD, do it. Don’t put it off. There are lots of good reasons not to do it now, like family, finances, and time, but the longer you put it off, the harder it will be to start.”