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Executive Leadership in Major Projects

Unlearn leadership, rethink projects, create impact

Join our immersive development experience and increase your leadership capabilities and capacity to deal with the challenges of major projects. Learn alongside senior project peers from industry and government.

This is a deep learning experience that goes beyond simply adding a few new techniques to your tool box. It aims to increase the level of your thinking and lift the impact of your leadership practice across the board. To achieve this you will be challenged to:

Unlearn leadership

Let go of what you thought you knew about leadership. Working with exceptional leaders from the military, media, philosophy and martial arts you analyse leadership in different domains.

Draw on a number of diagnostic instruments to become more aware of your own leadership practice. Understand what others see as your leadership effectiveness and what your team thinks of the level of trust, conflict and engagement in the team you lead.

Rethink projects

Enrich your understanding of projects through the insights of global industry leaders, highly regarded peers and leading researchers across traditional areas of infrastructure, telecommunications, organisational transformation and more unusual projects including space mining, film, emergency response.

Explore different ways of leading projects through simulations, case studies and interactive learning strategies with project leaders who have experienced the projects you study.

Rebuild practices

Experiment with different ways of doing things with help and guidance from your direct manager and organisational mentor. Reflect on your leadership practice with the support of a John Grill Centre executive coach with extensive executive and major project experience.

Create impact

Build individual and team development plans to lift the value delivered by projects within your remit. Apply program learnings to a complex in-organisation project, wicked problem or adaptive challenge you face. Demonstrate organisational impact of your learnings during a program close-out meeting.

Applications now open

Complete the online application form. for our next ELMP cohort intake.  New dates to be advised at the end of 2020.* 

Alumni talk about the program's impact

The program runs across a year and includes four weeks of face-to-face coursework completed in three residential blocks, an in-organisation project, leadership diagnostics and executive coaching throughout.

Learn alongside senior project peers from industry and government across sectors including infrastructure, energy, resources, telecommunications, defence, banking and finance.

Executive coaching

Throughout the year you will be supported by an executive coach with major project experience who will work with you on your unique and individual development needs. These meetings will be arranged at a mutually suitable time.

In-organisation project

You will undertake an in-organisation project with support from your organisational sponsor, mentor, other program participants, coaches and facilitators and working with your current team. At the end of the program you will present this project at a meeting.

Leadership diagnostics

Before the start of the program you and your team will complete a diagnostic evaluation of your personal leadership practices and team dynamics.

Residential blocks

Participants complete the four weeks of coursework in Sydney. This is broken up into three blocks, over a year: 1 x 2 weeks and 2 x 1 weeks. The residentials are planned for February, May and September 2021. The John Grill Centre team will organise your residential accommodation.

Further education opportunities

If you successfully complete the ELMP program, you can apply for credit for two units (of the 6 units of study) and entry into the Global Executive MBA Program (GEMBA) with the University of Sydney Business School.

Program duration and time commitment

The ELMP program runs across a year and includes four weeks of face-to-face coursework completed in three residential blocks, an in-organisation project, leadership diagnostics and executive coaching throughout.

The residential blocks are full time, while you complete the other components of the program at your own pace.

Fees and costs

Rates current at July 2020 and are subject to change.

Program fees: $29,000* 

Residential costs: $9,500 total estimate** 

*This includes all tuition, executive coaching and course materials. GST is additional.

** This includes all meal, group ground transportation and accommodation costs during residential weeks. GST is additional.

Additional costs

You will need to cover your own airfares and airport transfers to and from Sydney.

Payment terms and refund policy

Flexible payment is available through three instalments read full detail in the payment terms. Other payment options to suit your own organisation also available, please call to discuss.

Conditions related to fees and refunds are available in the refund policy.

The ELMP program modules apply leadership concepts to the project context – leading self, leading others and leading the project.

Leadership practice

  • Understanding effective leadership practices from multiple perspectives, including military, political, the arts and philosophical.
  • Evaluating and enhancing individual leadership practices to become a self-aware and innovative leader.
  • Strengthening communication skills with boards, ministers, executive management and other crucial stakeholders.
  • Applying the right leadership approaches to specific projects.
  • Contributing to effective project governance.

High performing project teams

  • Building a cohesive project team for better group dynamics and improved collaboration, trust and accountability.
  • Understanding individual and team conflict styles, and how this affects performance.
  • Engaging and motivating teams with diverse motivational drivers.
  • Creating cohesion and alignment among co-located, dispersed or virtual team members across different organisations and cultures.
  • Developing and coaching team member talent.

Collaborative engagement and stakeholder alignment

  • Creating environments with project teams, sponsors and governance committees that allow for open involvement and participation.
  • Analysing stakeholders and their interests to create shared visions of success.
  • Developing collaborative agreements with external suppliers, contractors and joint-venture partners that optimise value and minimise risk.
  • Leading and navigating projects through complex political, regulatory and industrial relations environments.
  • Engaging with communities and interest groups on sensitive project issues.

Strategic mindset

  • Understanding the broader current and future cultural and societal contexts of major projects.
  • Understanding projects as part of their organisational, strategic/policy environment.
  • Applying critical thinking and structured innovation processes to design effective project solutions.
  • Creating project environments that are innovative and customer-centric, and deliver strategy and policy driven outcomes.
  • Understanding bias, deception and delusion and creating an effective and strategic decision-making process for major projects.

In-organisation project and final presentation

You will be required to complete an in-organisation project and present on this project to the wider participant cohort. As part of this project you will:

  • identify a adaptive or wicked challenge to apply and deepen course learnings
  • formulate a strategy and implementation plan for the project-related challenge
  • work towards resolving the challenge by drawing on course learnings, peers, mentor and coach support
  • collaborate with your project sponsor to embed the revised approach.


To be eligible for admission, you need to:

  • have a minimum of 10 years relevant professional project experience
  • hold a completed bachelor’s degree, graduate certificate, graduate diploma or equivalent from an institution approved by the University of Sydney. This needs to be at a standard accepted by the University (minimum credit average or 65 percent grade average)
  • be an employee currently working on a major project or on project-related issues
  • be nominated and supported by an organisation sponsor.


1. Complete the online application form. Next intake dates to be advised end of 2020.

2. Submit your application along with:

  • details of your employment history
  • a statement of intent: why you are applying for this program, and what do you hope to get out of it
  • a letter of sponsorship from your organisation: for you to participate, your organisation needs to sponsor you
  • a copy of your academic transcript.

3. After we receive your completed application we will contact you for a formal interview.

*We are currently in the process of forming the John Grill Institute of Projects drawing on the expertise of the John Grill Centre for Project Leadership and the University’s long-standing Project Management Program. This gives us the opportunity to align the Executive Leadership in Major Projects program (ELMP) with an expanded comprehensive curriculum including both project-related academic award programs (from Bachelor to Master level) as well as executive education programs (ELMP and custom programs), and a range of short courses through the University of Sydney Centre for Continuing Education.

As a result of these activities, we have decided to align the next intake of the ELMP program with the start of the academic year in 2021. We thank you in advance for your understanding and apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause you.


Speak to the John Grill Centre team
The centre have developed a robust experiential learning approach, which is linked back to the theory behind those experiences, and to real case studies shared by successful leaders, who have learnt these lessons through their own experience of projects.
Mark Vella, NSW Operations Manager, LendLease