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Army Veteran and Contract Program Manager Keeps His Skills Updated With Villanova Certifications

Army Veteran and Contract Program Manager Keeps His Skills Updated With Villanova Certifications

Ron Sherrill Villanova Agile Management Student Spotlight

Last Updated August 23, 2023

U.S. Army veteran Ronald Sherrill had already earned the first of two master’s degrees and Project Management Professional certification (PMP)® when he decided to earn a Lean Six Sigma Sensei certification 100% online from Villanova University.

After earning a second master’s degree, Sherrill returned to Villanova to earn a Professional Certification in Agile & Scrum.

Asked why he would earn certification in these areas even after attaining master’s degrees in education, and business management and leadership, Sherrill said it’s important to keep acquiring skills and knowledge as you move through your career.

“As methodologies in management evolve, I think it is important to demonstrate to employers you are keeping your skill set toolbox current,” Sherrill said in an interview. “The Agile and Scrum certification from Villanova helped me do just that.”

A Lifetime of Accomplishment and Service

Sherrill embraces the notion of lifelong learning, relentlessly bettering himself by seeking new knowledge and challenges. 

A native of Lindenhurst, Long Island, Sherrill joined the U.S. Army Signal Corps as a Private First Class in 1981. He served 26 years. He’s a Persian Gulf War veteran and former paratrooper. In his last assignment, Sherrill served at the White House Communications Agency as First Sergeant in charge of teams that provided mobile global communication for the President, Vice President, White House Staff, and the First Lady.

Sherrill retired in 2007. In his first five years after leaving the military, he worked as a Communications Project Engineer Contractor for a Washington DC company. He now works as a Contract Program Manager for Analytical Services and Materials, Inc., a government contracting company. He works on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, near Dayton, Ohio.

Sherrill has a master’s degree in secondary education from Old Dominion University and a master’s degree in business management and leadership from Liberty University. He earned his PMP® certification in 2010, his Lean Six Sigma Sensei certification in 2011 and his Certificate in Agile Management and Professional Certification in Agile and Scrum in 2020.

Sherrill and his wife, Jo Ann (an Army Signal Corps veteran), have been married 35 years and have four children and two granddaughters. He enjoys reading about great military and political leaders in American history. 

“I like to think about their strengths and weaknesses and what it was that caused them to rise to the top. I consider what I would like to emulate and what I would reject,” Sherrill said.

How Certifications Have Helped His Career

In his interview, Sherrill talked about the ways that earning his certifications have helped his career. He said that while earning PMP® certification status opened the door for earning his current position, the other certifications have kept his skills up to date.

Agile methodology attracted him because of its approach to developing a product.

“During my time studying traditional project management, I was introduced to some material on Agile methodologies,” Sherrill said. “It seemed to me the focus on customer communication while developing a product incrementally was more likely to result in customer satisfaction than a project plan forecasted over a period of a year or more.”

Sherrill said he expects the Certificate in Agile Management and Professional Certification in Agile and Scrum to widen the number of types of contracts he can work. He added that it is important because “many government contracts expire after five years, and competition is fierce.”

He said what he has learned in Agile fits well with his knowledge and experience as a PMP® holder and Lean Six Sigma Sensei.

“I think the takeaway is that these different approaches aren’t so much in competition with each other as they are methods that can be used in concert to achieve desired results,” Sherrill said. “The trick is to take from each methodology what works best to achieve your goals. The bigger your toolbox, the more you can fix.”

The Online Experience at Villanova University

Sherrill said he has returned repeatedly to Villanova for his education for a variety of reasons. For one, the school sets up online courses that give him flexibility in scheduling when he does course work. Another reason is that many of Villanova’s courses are recognized by the Project Management Institute (PMI), which helps him keep his PMP® status current. As a PMI Authorized Training Partner, Villanova is approved to offer training and issue Professional Development Units (PDUs) for select courses.

Sherrill also said his student success representative was “always quick to respond to my questions, and if there ever was a problem, they brought it to a quick and satisfactory resolution.”

Sherrill said the most valuable takeaway from Villanova’s Agile Management program was that “incremental development of a product by a self-organized and self-managed team, with regular customer reviews, is much more likely to get a better product to market quicker and cheaper than traditional methods, making stakeholders happier.”

He particularly enjoyed learning about self-organized, self-managed teams and how it related to military organizations. He said that while centralized command and control has been a mainstay of the military, recent history has shown the value of “highly adaptable small teams that can work independently with a clear understanding of the commander’s intent (think Special Forces).” 

“It seems highly adaptable small independent teams in commercial ventures also do well when trying to create a product in a business environment with many unknowns. I found the parallel interesting,” Sherrill said.

Advice for Veterans Taking Online Courses

Sherrill said taking Villanova’s courses online works well because of the flexibility in when to complete coursework and take tests. He said the University offers more than sufficient time to complete coursework. The biggest obstacle is usually how students approach that work.

“If you’re not careful, you can find yourself procrastinating, and things begin to pile up. The best thing to do is have a set time to study and place in the house you can work with minimal interruption,” Sherrill said.

He said he would advise those taking an online class to get ahead of schedule when they can so there is buffer time to deal with unanticipated interruptions which invariably happen. 

Sherrill also noted that U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs benefits may be applied to pay for the courses. Depending on their unique situation, veterans may be eligible to have courses paid for through GI Bill® educational benefits.

Another tip shared by Sherrill is for potential students to check with the Human Resources department where they work and find out if their company is willing to assist in paying for courses.

“If tuition assistance is not currently provided by your company, talk with a supervisor you trust about the potential benefits of introducing Agile to your organization,” Sherrill said. “If they see value in it, maybe they will pay for the class, anyway.”

PMP is a registered trademark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website at