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Are you ready for complexity?

The University of Ottawa - Telfer School of Management’s Master of Business in Complex Project Leadership Program (MBCPL) is the only recognized academic program of its kind in Canada specifically dedicated to providing project managers and executives with the knowledge and techniques required to successfully deliver complex projects.

At a time when failure to understand and properly manage complex projects routinely makes national headlines, the need has never been greater for an Executive Master’s degree program dedicated solely to skill development for leaders of large, complex projects. Traditional project management emphasizes scope, determination and control, and possesses a linear and unbending sequential approach dedicated to following a pre-set plan, and the predominant goal of delivering on time and on budget. This no longer sufficient when it comes to the delivery of projects with expansive, quickly changing scope, multiple stakeholders and changing demands.

Project complexity rises with the number of stakeholders, the interconnectedness and codependency of activities and approvals, the unclear or unshared goals and expected outcomes, the cultural barriers, the technical challenges, and the temporal shifts and evolving nature of those elements over time.

Such complexity impacts large capital procurement projects, equipment capitalization, integrating information technology/systems, innovation and R&D, guiding organizational change, and large-scale business transformation efforts. Areas such as these require a new level of education and professionalization that traditional management techniques and understanding fail to adequately provide.

Successful delivery of a complex project involves much more than simply managing time and budget when it pertains to projects at the national level or involving massive corporations and multifaceted institutions. If the project does not adequately address all the specific needs it is intended to solve efficiently and to the client’s expectations, being on time and on budget will be a paltry balm when it comes time to deliver the project to the public or the stakeholders.

Alain Doucet

Telfer’s premier executive MBCPL program recognizes the knowledge gap that exists in modern Canadian industry and government environments when it comes to complex projects and addresses that gap in a way no other program in Canada can.

Telfer’s program helps managers and executives avoid the pitfalls that have become all too common in complex projects. Those enrolled in the programs are taught; to recognize complexity early on, to identify and engage key stakeholders, to understand the fundamental reason(s) why the project exists, and fully understand what the desired outcome needs to be, to consider the real effects of possible outcomes, to understand who are the ultimate clients of the effects of the project, and to identify major risks in the project environment early and recognize their likely impact.

The journey to the creation of  Telfer’s MBCPL program goes back a decade to a time when Australia experienced a number of unsuccessful high profile defence projects. Realizing a new way of thinking about and managing complex projects was required, the Australian government’s quest led to a collaboration with the International Centre for Complex Project Management (ICCPM) to define new competency standards in 2006-2007.

The Australia government contracted the development of a Master’s program to the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in 2007. QUT delivered five full-time intensive serials with one Canadian in each cohort from 2007 to 2011 and later transitioned to a three-year part-time model beginning in 2012. As a result the Australian government improved their decision-making process and increased the number of successfully delivered complex projects. Graduates became catalysts for positive change in both the public and private sectors.


Realizing the tremendous value in this new educational initiative Telfer launched the first cohort of their Certificate in Project and Procurement Leadership (CPPL) in October of 2015 based on informal collaboration with QUT. The CPPL program consists of 6-8 courses spread across nine months attended part-time. The following year (2016) the University of Ottawa acquired the use of the QUT Intellectual Property and Telfer launched the first cohort of their Master of Business in Complex Project Leadership (MBCPL) in September 2016. The MBCPL program consists of 24 courses spread across 24 months attended part-time. Since the inception of the programs at Telfer 108 participants have graduated from the CPPL program and 38 participants have enrolled in the MBCPL program.

On May 8th, 2018,  MBCPL will be hosting its 2nd Annual Seminar on Advances in Complex Project Leadership, which is the perfect showcase to understand the type of complex projects that candidates are taught to deliver successfully. The seminar is not only a resource for the Master’s candidates, but also an informative and educational event for government and industry leaders. The seminar provides the opportunity to hear from other accomplished leaders as they discuss how they have adapted their decision-making abilities and knowledge of global best practices to help them tackle some of the most dynamic and interesting complex projects in Canada.

This year’s seminar will be one of the premiere public events in the field of complex project education. It will be an ideal place to gain insight into the importance of professionalizing complex project leadership as well as learn how others have delivered large, complex and inherently risky projects in the Infrastructure, Information Management, Health and Defence sectors. The seminar provides attendees with the rare opportunity to network with a wide array of knowledgeable peers from across the public and private work spaces.

The seminar will feature examinations of complex Information Management, Infrastructure, and Equipment Capitalization projects as well as the UK experience in major project delivery. The second-year MBCPL participants will host, introduce, moderate and summarize the discussion on each case study.

After a catered breakfast, which will give people time to register for the day’s events and network among their peers, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Jonathan Vance, will open the seminar with remarks on the relevance of improved complex project leadership to the implementation of Canada’s Defence Policy and to the operational success of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Eglinton Crosstown LRT

Mr. Rob Pattison, the Senior Vice President of Light Rail Transit for Infrastructure Ontario will be the first of four main presenters. Mr. Pattison leads a team of project management, legal, finance, communications and strategic sourcing professionals who procure and support the delivery of Infrastructure Ontario's portfolio of light rail transit projects through public private partnerships. He provides strategic direction, leadership and support to Project Directors and their teams. Mr. Pattison will be discussing Infrastructure Ontario’s Alternative Financing and Procurement and Output Specification practices in relation to the Eglinton Light Rail Transit development.

The second presenter of the day will be Mr. Tim Banfield, the Director of the Nichols Group and former Director of Portfolio Oversight, Initiation and Intervention for the Major Projects Authority, Cabinet Office within the UK government. Mr. Banfield will be speaking about the efforts to improve the delivery of the UK Government’s major projects.

Before lunch The Comptroller General, Mr. Roch Huppé, will speak on the Treasury Board Secretariat’s perspective on current and future priorities and initiatives to improve the delivery of Canadian Government major projects.

The seminars third set of presenters that will take the stage after lunch will be Mr. Dave Monahan, the Project Manager of the Halifax Class Modernization (HCM) Frigate Life Extension project for the Department of National Defense and Mr. Bob Pask, the Program Manager for the Halifax Class Modernization (HCM) CSI DAB project at Lockheed Martin Canada, Rotary and Mission Systems.

HMCS Regina

Mr. Monahan is a Program Engineering Manager with a background in Combat System Engineering projects related to the introduction, integration, maintenance and support of sensors and weapons in Naval Vessels. He has worked in small and large project teams involving Canadian Military, Industrial and International partners. The HCM-FELEX project he manages has made significant progress to date. All 12 ships have undergone midlife refits, First Article Acceptance has been accomplished and several ships have been deployed internationally with their complement of modernized equipment.

Mr. Pask joined Lockheed Martin Canada in 2003, working on various major pursuits and projects before joining the HCM Proposal team in 2006. During the HCM proposal, Mr. Pask held many responsibilities, including development of the Program Management Plan, which were critical to influencing the company’s strategies and infrastructure for program execution. When HCM was awarded in 2008, Mr. Pask assumed the role of Deputy Program Manager – Production and Delivery, which he held until he was promoted to the Program Manager in 2015. As the Program Manager, Mr. Pask has successfully managed the delivery of ships 7 to 12, spares and land based training systems. Throughout his time on HCM, Mr. Pask worked closely with both the customer and suppliers to ensure all parties were focused on completing a successful program.

The pair will highlight key takeaways on the methodology and project management processes that successfully delivered an extremely complex information management system including Combat System sensors as part of the Halifax Class Frigate modernization project, on time and on budget.

The Ottawa Hospital

The final presenter of the day will be Dr. Glen Geiger, the Chief Medical Information Officer and the Medical lead of Project Fusion for The Ottawa Hospital (TOH). Dr. Geiger is leading the hospital’s efforts to implement Computerized Physician Order Entry, Voice Recognition and Electronic Documentation. He recently completed a Masters of Business Administration at the Telfer School of Business and Management and continues to practice as a General Internal Medicine Specialist.

Dr. Geiger will be discussing the procurement approach to the common Hospital Information System  the Ottawa Hospital and Partners purchased in 2017. He will be sharing insight into change management and governance gained from the first 6 months of the planned 20-month implementation.

Rounding out the day will be a plenary discussion, featuring key insights and summaries of each project, between MBCPL participants and presenters followed by closing remarks from Telfer’s Dean, Mr. François Julien. The end of the evening will have a reception for networking and discussion on a more personal level between attendees, MBCPL participants, speakers and guests.

There will be no cost to attend the seminar, and it is open for those working in the project or program environments.

For more information visit:

Master of Business in Complex Project Leadership

Certificate in Complex Project & Procurement Leadership

May 8th, 2018 Seminar:



More Information

This article was created by Opus Scroll Inc on behalf of The University of Ottawa - Telfer School of Management’s Master of Business in Complex Project Leadership Program.

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