Standout organizational leadership professor brings talents to Purdue in Indianapolis

Motivated by her own previous interactions with mentors, both good and bad, Katrenia Reed Hughes wants to support her students long after they graduate from Purdue University in Indianapolis. (Purdue University photo/Kelsey Lefever)

The Persistent Pursuit recently featured Katrenia Reed Hughes, a professor who oversees the project management program within Purdue’s School of Engineering and Technology (a former school housed within IUPUI, which will reopen as a partnership of Purdue Polytechnic and the College of Engineering in fall 2024).

Reed Hughes had a longstanding corporate career, helping a variety of people and organizations optimize their business practices. Hughes ability to piece together novel tools for optimization was helped along by a far-reaching educational history, including a doctorate in clinical psychology.

However, upon returning to an academic setting, Reed Hughes said she was “going home.”

She cites several elements of the academic setting that she missed during her sojourn in private industry—the campus community, the ability to build personal connections with students and colleagues, and the opportunity to share knowledge and help others.

Katrenia Reed Hughes leads a project management program that prepares students for careers with long-term viability. (Purdue University photo/Kelsey Lefever)

Now that she is in charge of the project management program in Indianapolis, Reed Hughes has been able to provide that mentorship she so fondly remembers from her own educational experiences. Reed Hughes has been a firsthand witness to the rise of the project manager as a profession, which she in large part attributes to the fact that many companies started to notice that they had no one on staff tracking basic benchmarks.

“Do [companies] meet their [desired] outcomes? Do they meet their goals?” Reed Hughes asks. Before “maybe 10 years ago,” many companies simply didn’t know. This has provided her with an opportunity to educate a generation of up-and-coming students with the knowledge to be indispensable in their workplace.

That opportunity has been an enriching success thus far, as Reed Hughes (affectionately known as “Dr. K”) has developed many close relationships with her students. This goes beyond staying connected on LinkedIn—she has grown close with the children of adult students, she has graduation pictures with her standout mentees, and she continues to expand the repertoire of institutions and programs she participates in, as either a member or a founder.

Read more about Reed Hughes’ background in Wilson City, Missouri, experiences with her students, and about the skills she will bring to Purdue in Indianapolis in David Ching’s article at The Persistent Pursuit.

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