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About us

Our history and knowledge base
Building on a significant heritage of work on projects and project leadership at the University of Sydney.

We were founded as the John Grill Centre for Project Leadership with a generous $20 million gift from University of Sydney alumnus John Grill, announced October 2012. Over the decade, as the complexity of projects increased, we have been developing advice for project leaders based on our trajectory of research and followed the success of the alumni from our Executive Leadership in Major Projects program

Our executive education

Executive education has been at the heart of the activities from the very start, with the vision to be the world leader in project leadership education, thinking and research in order to inspire, inform and support the successful delivery of large-scale projects. To enhance leadership capability and enable organisations to successfully deliver large-scale projects globally, we set out to partner with leading organisations across infrastructure, energy, aviation, mining, technology, banking and finance to provide support to their Senior Executives. 

With a small group of 20-25 peers, cohorts have studied the Executive Leadership of Major Projects program in intensive and highly interactive blocks across a period of one year. Focus has been given to leading self (leadership practice), leading others (high performing project teams, collaborative engagement and stakeholder alignment) and leading the project (design thinking and strategic mindset, value creating planning, execution agility). We celebrate the achievements of the alumni and the friendships and connections they have made through the program.  

In 2021 we have redesigned this flagship program for delivery online, and in hybrid mode, enabling the participation of global Senior Executives. Please see details of the 2022 program, and feel free to contact us at for more information.  

Our resources

We have developed a significant knowledge bank of resources through our work engaging with practice over the past years.

Our rich history: documents, links and resources

As we move forward as an Institute, we recognise the significant contributions of the Centre on which we build and the inputs of our previous CEOs Mark Voigts and Professor Suresh Cuganesan, the professional staff and a range of senior practitioners including Maurizio Floris and Garry Bowditch in the transformation of project-based industries. Listen to our previous directors talk about their passion for this initiative:

We welcome you to contact the current Director, Professor Jennifer Whyte and her team and to work with us to take the John Grill Institute for Project Leadership forward. 

Better infrastructure initiative

There is an agreement between the University of Sydney and Transport for New South Wales, established in 2017 and led by Associate Professor Julien Pollack to be completed by the end of 2021. This ongoing research is developing new insights by working with practitioners to consolidate international best practices and making it relevant to their practice, experimentally testing the impact of knowledge management approaches on project performances, and hosting round-tables to bring together leading researchers and practitioners to discuss the findings and plan our next steps. Please see our latest findings from the research here. Our archive of reports related to this initiative are here:

  1. Re-establishing global infrastructure leadership (2016) (pdf, 2.6MB)
  2. Shifting Australia’s infrastructure mindset to the long-game (2016) (pdf, 1.4MB)
  3. Why wait for government (2017) (pdf, 3MB)
  4. Why customer stewardship matters (2017) (pdf, 3.7MB)
  5. Infrastructure’s missing link (2018) (pdf, 1.7MB)