Project Management

50 Young Project Leaders Who Are Changing the World

15 Jul 2022
Michael DePrisco
PMI’s Future 50 list honors rising stars in the project and change management communities. But it also serves to inspire and motivate all of us. Here’s a top-line tour of 2022’s Future 50 list courtesy of Michael DePrisco.

business woman on laptop in front of window at sunrise

Tired of negative news? Looking for something to lift your spirits? 

Spend some time with the latest Future 50 list—PMI’s third-annual compilation of young professionals who are changing the world through the power of projects and their own bold and innovative thinking. I think you’ll come away feeling uplifted and inspired not only about the project management profession, but also about the future of our planet.  

Helping to save the planet, in fact, is the mission of several of this year’s Future 50. There’s Ellie Mackay, for example, a Cambridge-trained scientist and drone pilot whose U.K. company, Ellipsis Earth, uses drones to look for plastic pollution so that governments and NGOs can make better decisions about how to clean it up. 

Or take Garvita Gulhati who convinced the National Restaurants Association of India to encourage restaurants to fill water glasses only halfway, saving more than 10 million liters (2.6 million gallons) of water. There’s also R.J. Scaringe, who leads U.S.-based Rivian Automotive, maker of the first all-electric pick-up truck to reach the market. R.J. hails from M.I.T.’s Sloan Automotive Lab and has more than 71,000 first-generation trucks and SUVs on the order books.  

Other activist project leaders are working for peace in war-torn Cameroon (Christian Leke Achaleke), helping farmers build more secure food supplies in Africa (Catherine Nakalembe) and saving the ancestral home of indigenous people in Peru from illegal logging (Liz Chicaje Churay). Churay’s project has helped preserve 2 million acres of Amazon rain forest, home to more than 3,000 species of plants and 500 species of birds and fish.  

Technology plays a big role in many of the projects. In fact, some projects are about advancing technology itself—as is the case with Suguru Endo of the NTT Computer and Data Science Laboratories, who is working on advances in quantum computing. Others are about using technology to transform businesses or entire sectors. Bolor-Erdene Battsengle, for example, helped craft the plan to use data and technology to streamline government services in Mongolia, turning the country into a “digital nation.” 

Still other projects simply make use of sophisticated technology—sometimes for very unsophisticated purposes. For instance, Rayner Loi of Singapore and his company, Lumitics, have developed a smart garbage can. Using weight sensors, cameras and AI technology, it helps food service workers figure out how much avoidable waste they’re generating. Customers include Hyatt, Singapore Airlines and Etihad Airways. 

My favorite use of technology is probably from Aliaa Ismail of Egypt who is using large-scale 3D scanners to create replicas of our most fragile heritage sites—such as the Valley of the Kings and the Tomb of Seti I. The replicas will help researchers better document and preserve these sites, while giving all of us an opportunity to gain virtual access to them. How cool is that! 

Professional project leaders are also among the Future 50. Alcides Cabral, founder and former president of the PMI Angola Chapter, is helping a new generation of project leaders deliver social impact in Africa. And Min Jiaang in China has used her position with the China State Construction E-Commerce Company to improve project management practices, train and support project managers and promote a culture of excellence in China’s construction industry.  

We even have sports figures and celebrities on the list. There’s Naomi Osaka, the four-time Grand Slam singles tennis champion from Japan whose Play Academy is helping girls get more involved in sports. And Bismark Biyombo, the National Basketball Association star, whose foundation has spearheaded multiple social impact projects—including building a hospital in his home country, the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

Lovers of Wordle, the hot web-based word game, will be happy to know that its developer, Welsh software engineer Josh Wardle, is on the list. So is artist and self-proclaimed “musical weirdo and visionary,” Beatie Wolfe, who released the world’s first 360-degree AR livestream and more recently projected her artwork onto a 3,000-seat venue in Glasgow to visualize rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. 

Then there are Future 50 leaders engaged in projects ripped straight from the headlines. Hamilton Bennett, for example, led the team that developed Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine. And Zoya Lytvyn’s educational nonprofit, Osvitoria, helped launch Ukraine’s first virtual platform for distance learning—now serving nearly 400,000 students either in Ukraine or living as refugees outside the country. 

I came away from reviewing this year’s Future 50 list a little awe struck—not just by the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the honorees but by the power of projects to transform our world. And our Future 50 honorees are paving the way. 

Michael DePrisco Michael DePrisco

As Chief Operating Officer (COO), Michael (Mike) DePrisco provides executive leadership to the Global Operations Group, supporting more than 1.4M active certification holders, 680,000 members, and 300 chapters from over 200 countries. He is responsible for the Product Portfolio, EPMO, Culture & Change Management, Digital Group, and Customer Care teams. His team's focus is on excellence in the execution of all major change initiatives at the Institute, digital product delivery and customer support, and optimization of ways of working, culture and change management.