When Clara Cheung (MS ’10, Ph.D ’16) decided to begin her graduate studies at the University of Maryland (UMD), she believed she’d get an exceptional education and become trained for an outstanding career in project management. However, she received far more than she expected. Clara describes the lifelong relationships she developed with some of her professors at UMD as the foundation of her career.
“The most meaningful part of my academic career at UMD was the lifelong relationship I have developed with Professors John Cable, Jocelyn Davis and Qingbin Cui,” Cheung said. “Professor Cable totally changed my life.”
Professor Cable recognized her potential in conducting research and convinced her to pursue her doctorate while she was still working toward her master’s degree. “I worked with John Cable for over seven years as his teaching assistant (TA), and he showed me how to be a good instructor and a role model for students,” she said.
“Clara was a gifted student and showed high potential when I had her in my class,” stated John Cable, Director of the UMD Project Management Center for Excellence. “She was an excellent TA and all the students loved her; she was a natural teacher. Now that she has graduated and is teaching at her own university, we have stayed in touch and she continues to write papers with Professor Davis and Dr. Cui. It has been great watching her excel in her career.”
“Clara was a gifted student and showed high potential when I had her in my class,” stated John Cable, Director of the UMD Project Management Center for Excellence. “It has been great watching her excel in her career.”
Professor Davis led Clara to the area of positive psychology, which is a cutting-edge field in business. “Part of my current research is highly influenced by her, and we collaborate together on different research projects and papers,” said Clara. Professor Davis said, “Clara was great fun to have in class with a sharp mind and a good sense of humor. As a collaborator, now that she’s on faculty at the University of Manchester, it’s been a total pleasure to work with her as a colleague on research and a recent bespoke study for APM with colleagues from the University of Cape Town. I’m now learning bunches from Clara!”
In September 2017, Dr. Clara Cheung won the Emerald Research Methodology Award at the Annual Conference of the Association of Researchers in Construction Management (ARCOM) as a co-author of a paper entitled “Happiness for Project Managers: Framework and Empirical Analysis” The papers other authors were UMD’s Dr. Cui and Professor Davis. View the article: PM Graduate and Faculty win ARCOM Research Methodology Award.
Dr. Clara Cheung, presented at the 2019 APM Women in Project Management Conference in London. Her presentation, entitled “Measuring What Works: Workplace Well-being of Project Professionals.” Her mentors, Director John Cable and Professor Jocelyn Davis, were there to support her.
Dr. Cheung is now an Associate Professor (Senior Lecturer) in Project Management in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom. Part of her work includes conducting research in improving health, safety and wellbeing in high-risk industrial projects. Cheung said that what she enjoys most about her job is collaborating and managing people with different areas of expertise to deliver projects within the triple constraints. “Project management can be used in many different fields and industries to improve business performance,” she said. “Being a master of project management means you’re at the cutting edge of helping people and businesses thrive.”
Since she achieved both her graduate and doctoral degrees at UMD, Cheung said many career doors have been opened for her. “It was challenging to formulate my own research direction at the beginning of my studies,” she said. “But since 2017, when I came to the University of Manchester, I have conducted interdisciplinary research by applying organizational psychology, data science and engineering theories to tackle occupational health, safety and well-being issues in high-risk industries.”
She’s continued to develop this area of research, securing $1 million in externally funded research projects as the principal and co-investigator. “I’ve received funding from the Association for Project Management to benchmark the well-being levels of project professionals and develop corresponding interventions to enhance it,” she explained. Dr. Cheung secured a grant from Lloyd’s Register Foundation to collaborate with Health and Safety Executive, a UK government agency, to implement four applied research projects that improve occupational health and safety of the construction industry using digital technologies.
For anyone considering enrolling in a graduate program in project management at the University of Maryland, Clara said, “I was surprised that UMD has such a strong alumni network. If you want to have a real breakthrough in life, just as I have had, you should get your education through the UMD Project Management Program.”
Earn your competitive advantage just like Clara and many other UMD graduates. Apply today for a Master of Science in Civil Engineering with a Major in Project Management, a Master of Engineering in Project Management (MEng), or a Doctorate of Philosophy in Civil Engineering with a concentration in Project Management.