Sixty Years in Project Management


Russ Archibald at Amuay Bay Refinery 1949

Russ’s first project team experience was as the owner’s inspector of construction for a 60,000 barrel per day vacuum distillation petroleum process unit at the Amuay Bay Refinery of the Creole (ESSO) Petroleum Company in western Venezuela in 1949.

Amuay Bay Refinery, Vacuum Unit, 1949

Amuay Bay Refinery, Vacuum Unit, 1949

This project, to design, construct, test, and commission a 60,000 barrel per day vacuum distillation petroleum processing unit, including the distillation tower, furnace, heat exchanger, pump bank, and control room, was designed by Esso Engineering, constructed by Foster Wheeler Corporation.

Russ atop a Douglas B-26 light bomber, ready for deployment in 1951 to Korea, but the truce was signed before he got there.

After being recalled to active duty in the USAF in 1951, he directed design & construction projects in the 6th Air Force Headquarters in the Panama Canal Zone at Albrook Field; was Branch Manager for Air Installations in the Air R & D Command of the USAF, with oversight of all facility projects at all ARDC bases in the U.S.; and later (after obtaining his Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Texas) became Project Engineer for temperature and pressure control systems for all USAF bombers and missiles (except ICBM missiles) at Wright-Patterson AFB, Dayton, Ohio.

As a civilian with Aerojet-General Corp. and Hughes Aircraft Company, he participated actively in the early development and application of computer based project planning and control systems (PERT/CPM), first as Manager, Project Controls (PERT) Department, Aerojet-General, on the solid rocket component of the U.S. Navy’s POLARIS Weapon System in 1959.

With Hughes Aircraft, Hughes Dynamics, and CPM Systems, Inc., Russ and several close colleagues provided project planning and scheduling services for a number of years to project owners and managers in residential and commercial construction as well as on military/aerospace projects. The knowledge gained during these years is contained in his book Network-Based Management Systems (PERT/CPM), co-authored with Richard Villoria and published by Wiley in 1967. Used copies are available from

With the consulting firm of Booz, Allen & Hamilton he developed and conducted the first national-wide series of workshop/seminars in program/project management, and also conducted many in-house training workshops for business and industrial firms and governmental agencies.

PMI Co-Founders Eric Jenett, Russ Archibald, US Army Col Parker, and Dottie Jenett at the 2nd PMI National Seminar Symposium, Houston, Texas, 1971

Russ participated in the pre-formation discussions with fellow PMI Co-Founders Eric Jenett and Jim Snyder in New Orleans in 1968 and 1969, was one of the six founding trustees prior to PMI incorporation, and he presented the first paper at the first formation meeting of PMI October 9-10, 1969, at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, GA, USA:

“Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling the Efforts of Knowledge Workers”
This paper reflects the experience that Russ had gained in the prior 20 years.
“Planificar, Calendarizar y Controlar los Esfuerzos
de los Trabajadores del Conocimiento”

In the Fall of 2008 Russ provided a 4-part in-depth interview with David Pells at PMI World Today, first recounting his “Early Years in Project Management” and then discussing the state of the art of project management today.

PART ONE deals with the first half of Russ’ career, as he witnessed and participated in the beginnings of ‘modern’ project management.

PART TWO focuses on his participation in and knowledge about the formation and early years of the Project Management Institute.

PART THREE looks at his knowledge of the early days of INTERNET (IPMA) in Europe and professional PM in other parts of the world.

PART FOUR deals with his recent research, his observations about the state of the world of project management, and his predictions for the future of this field.