Project Leadership in a Changing World – 2023 International Symposium


The John Grill Institute for Project Leadership held our annual Symposium on 9 and 16 November 2023. We had a a record number of attendees with over 240 people from over 20 countries tuning in across the two days.

In the first session, our Director, Professor Jennifer Whyte, facilitated a panel titled Projects and the Energy Transition featuring key industry figures, Mr Chris Ashton (CEO of Worley), Mr Terry Chapman (General Manager, Project Delivery | Electricity Transition of APA Group), and Professor Deanna D’Alessandro (Director of the University of Sydney’s Net Zero Initiative). The group shared what they thought were the challenges of transitioning to net zero practices in the industry and what measures need to be taken to overcome them.

Following that was another discussion on Projects for Resilience in a Changing World that was led by our very own Associate Professor Petr Matous, who was joined by Professor Paula Jarzabkowski (Professor of Strategic Management at the University of Queensland), Dr Nader Naderpajouh (Interim Head of School at the University of Sydney’s School of Project Management), and Mr Roger Swinbourne (Major Projects Sustainability Leader and Consultant). They delved into how we can build sturdy projects and how projects can be used to help achieve resilience.

To close the first half of the Symposium, we invited guest speakers to share brief presentations on their research:

  • Constructing the Sydney Opera House – 50 Year Anniversary by Dr Paolo Stracchi
  • Digital Twins in Projects by Dr Neda Madi
  • Project Governance in Digital Health by Dr Natalie Smith
  • AI in Construction 4.0 by Dr Žiga Turk
  • Sydney Megaproject Ecology by Dr Lara Mottee
  • Policy framework for cross regional cooperation strategies in the Greater Bay Area’s construction industry by Professor Geoffrey Shen

At the second session of our Symposium on 16 November 2023, Professor Whyte hosted a panel that included Professor Stefan Williams (Director of the University of Sydney’s Digital Sciences Initiative), Dr Dicle Kortantamer (Lecturer in Project Management at the University of Leeds), and Mr Matt Gijselman (Director – Public Policy & Advocacy at Bentley Systems). This group discussed How AI is Changing Project Leadership.

After, we welcomed another round of academics who shared their research findings:

  • Leading psychologically safe digitally-enabled project teams by Dr Eleni Papadonikolaki
  • Decentralized Project Delivery on the Crypto Common: Conceptualization, Governance Mechanisms, and Future Research Directions by Dr Jens Hunhevics
  • Response strategies for community stakeholder engagement by Associate Professor Ken Chung
  • Designing the transition to operations in large inter-organizational projects: Strategy, structure, process, and people by Ms Xinyue Zhang

The tentative dates for the 2024 Symposium are 6 November and 13 November.