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Workshop 1.1

Project Management in Science and Research

In this course I take the participants through the core principles of well grounded systemic project management and lead them towards seeing the value of an approach that is the opposite of traditional, tools-driven linear management. They experience how these principles translate to leading projects in science. As we walk through at a high level, the participants learn how to set up a simple, proven structure that is effective at driving engagement within the project team and with external stakeholders. The course participants realize how important it is to build consistent project plans, and how they successfully communicate the value of their project proposal to funding agencies and stakeholders. All aspects discussed lead towards becoming a more complete and well rounded scientist owning a unique project leadership signature.

Target group

Participants of the WU PPP, who would like to improve their knowledge about and competences for the professional management of projects in science.

  • Enhancement of competences for the professional management of projects in science on the basis of a theoretically sound and field-tested system-theoretical project management approach.

  • Teaching the specifics of managing science and externally funded projects.

  • Application of selected project management methods to concrete research projects of the participants

  • Central aspects in the implementation of (virtual) kick-off meetings in an international research context

  • Support for transfer work

Course Design

Preparation Phase

During the preparation phase, course participants carry out a short self-assessment and read a few shorts texts.

This serves as a foundation to design the workshop and to focus on the participants` demand.

Workshop 1


  • Characteristics of projects in science and project management approach

  • Professional project management, aligned with the strategies of funding bodies (national/international), as an essential contribution to successful project proposals

  • Context-thinking and business-case-thinking in science projects

  • Differences between project management and administrative requirements by funding bodies

  • Project management methods in the context of science and funded projects (project organisation, roles, scope, schedule, resource, cost etc)

  • Stakeholder and relationship management

Implementation Phase

During the implementation phase, participants put the course content into practice in their own science or funded projects (or an initial idea for it). This task is optional.

Workshop 2


  • Differences between process-oriented project management and (administrative) requirements of national and international funding agencies

  • Planning an effective project start process and (virtual) kick-off meetings

  • Goals and methods for project controlling and reporting (to funding agencies)

  • Developing a unique leadership signature

  • Real-life case studies and examples

  • Self-assessment of individual project management competence

  • Self-study

  • Inputs, practical examples

  • Inverted classroom to ensure practice-orientation (reflection, discussion, feedback and good-practic- examples as core working forms)

  • Training on the Research Project: work on real science projects provided by the course participants

  • Collegial coaching and exchange of experience

Visual Timeline of the Schedule as described above at Course Design

DI Wolfgang Vrzal, MBA

Trainer Wolfgang Vrzal in a suit and tie

Wolfgang Vrzal is a management academic, practitioner and endurance sport aficionado. In that order. His passion for helping young professionals to transform and become next-level leaders is rooted is his 20 years+ international experience as trainer, lecturer and coach in industry, research organizations and universities.

Wolfgang Vrzal is currently engaged in academic continuous education and works as trainer and consultant specializing on (funded) research projects of various disciplines. His subject matter expertise ranges across systems thinking, business strategy, organizational change and transformation and project and programme management. He is certified Senior Project Manager (IPMA, since 2008) and certified PRINCE2 Practitioner (OGC, since 2007).

Wolfgang graduated from the University of Natural Resource Management and Life Sciences Vienna in 1993. He continued his academic path as a research associate at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver (1994-1997) and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis IIASA in Austria. In 2008 he earned an MBA in “Project and Process Management” from the University of Economics and Business Administration in Vienna.

Prior to his journey in academia, Wolfgang has acted as consultant in an international management-consulting firm for 10 years. His mandates included strategic and project management training and consulting, lecturing at universities and leading large-scale research (EU funded) projects. He headed a Project Management Office in a company in the electronic sector (1200 employees) for 3 years. 

Wolfgang lives with his family in Austria and is enthusiastic about people, cultures and long distance running.

Learn more!

Workshop 1.2a