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Senior leaders making an impact on major projects

Celebrating our alumni

An alumni contingent – representing a gathering of some of Australia’s most significant major project leaders – came together to celebrate the third cohort completing the Executive Leadership in Major Projects program.

Our Annual Alumni Dinner in August brought together project executives and industry leaders who are responsible for some Australia’s most significant major projects which are transforming organisations and creating a positive impact on communities.

The evening was also an occasion to acknowledge the third cohort completing the year-long Executive Leadership in Major Projects program (ELMP). The range of projects this cohort represents reflects the current project landscape in Australia including banking and finance, telecommunications, oil & gas and infrastructure and with a strong contingent from government including:


  • Simon Healy, General Manager Commercial Development, Mirvac
  • Seamus O’Connell, Program Director, The University of Sydney
  • Graham Richardson, Manager - Program Controls, Roads and Maritime Services
  • Tony Ryan, Facilities Delivery Manager – Greater Enfield, Woodside
  • Karen Sobel, Senior Vice President - Location Manager, WorleyParsons
  • Brett Summers, Director Integration, Level Crossing Removal Authority
  • Mark Vella, NSW Operations Manager, LendLease Engineering
  • Chris Watts, Director, Student Accommodation Development, The University of Sydney
  • Becky Wood, Program Director, Transport for New South Wales
  • Ryan Younane, National Manager Telecommunications, LendLease

"The learnings gained and put into practice by these leaders completing the ELMP program have made a significant impact on their project teams and also the bottom line for their organisations," said John Grill Centre Deputy Chief Executive Suresh Cuganesan.

Suresh thanked those organisations and their sponsors who have recognised the value of building the capability of their leadership team to ensure project success. He also noted the personal success that participants have gained through the program noting, “many of the cohort have elevated their roles within their organisations since commencing the program. In particular congratulations to Karen Sobel who now holds the position Regional Managing Director - Services, Canada and US East, WorleyParsons.”

Level Crossing Removal Authority, Director of Integration Brett Summers, who spoke on behalf of the cohort, recognised the greta value of the ELMP program and the invaluable links with other project leaders in the community. He spoke of how others in his team had been seeing how his team are doing things differently since he hasjoined the program and how this is making a positive impact on the projects he is driving.

David Thodey, Chair, CSIRO and former Telstra CEO joined the dinner as guest speaker sharing his insights on leading and governing major projects.  David astutely noted project leaders need to "act like CEO's" in their roles which have significant impact on outcomes for organisations.  He also recognised the value of the ELMP program for those making significant transformation changes in their organisations in an environment which requires innovative and courageous leaders.

The ELMP program runs across a nine-month period comprising five weeks of coursework, an in-organisation project, and executive coaching. Participants align their learnings with an action plan supported by a direct supervisor, a mentor appointed from their organisation and a John Grill Centre executive coach.

Over 50 project executives joined the ELMP program as guest speakers and panellists including high profile business leaders Dow Chemical, Senior Vice-President, Jim McIlvenny; Executive Director Aviation Services at Sydney Airport, Shelley Robertsand GE Mining, President and Chief Executive Officer, Steve Sargent.

The Annual Alumni Dinner brought together project leaders and industry leaders who are supporting greater leadership and governance in major projects to achieve organisational success. The fourth ELMP cohort, which started its ELMP journey this month also joined the dinner with participants from across the globe including London and the Middle East from organisations including Transport for NSW, Woodside, ANZ, WorleyParsons, NSW Health Infrastructure, Transurban and Aboriginal Affairs NSW.  


The Executive Leadership in Major Projects program, was launched with its first cohort in August 2014. Participants included business leaders working on major Australian and international projects across Asia, Middle East, US and Australia, including Australian infrastructure, banking and finance, technology and resources projects.

Application for the 2018 program close 27 April 2018. For more information, visit the Executive Leadership in Major Projects program page in our website.