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Leading Strategic Projects Successfully

Projects are an important part of any organisation. When companies do something different for their routine activities, they resort to projects as a vehicle. For instance, mergers or restructuring, implementing improvement initiatives, or developing new products or services.

Stripped down to essentials, a project is about a clear set of goals, a plan, and resources to execute the plan. Projects are not just about the nuts and bolts. They’re about the bigger questions confronting managers. How to frame the project, understand complexity and uncertainty, manage stakeholders and teams, et cetera. Projects are often put in very difficult circumstances. And having a high performance team is essential to the effectiveness of the project leader.

The objective of this programme is to improve the project capabilities of the participants, whether they lead a project, have oversight responsibility, or are a user. All projects have complexity, uncertainty, resource constraints, and multiple actors. So the first set of challenges is to manage these elements while accomplishing the goals. The management style needs to fit the goal of the project. And this is the second category of challenges.

One common pitfall is that managers are good at tracking activities. They are less good at understanding and working with the actors behind the activities– team members, stakeholders, partners, and such. A second pitfall is one I’ve mentioned earlier. They do not adapt the management approach to fit the nature of the project.

Is the project about executing a very clear plan? Is it about charting new territory as a new product development? Or is it about managing an organisational initiative? Another common pitfall is that projects tend to lose alignment with strategy. The original strategy may have changed, but the project has not adapted sufficiently.

Managers need to find ways of influencing the behaviours of stakeholders so that the stakeholders support the project or, at the very least, do not become significant obstacles. An important task of the project leader is to make sure that the stakeholders are managed with the same attention to detail as activities, resources, and project teams.

Every session in the programme has clear messages in the form of takeaways. The takeaways consist of a synthesis of concepts and practical tools that you can use in your own projects. I am keenly aware that participants look to satisfy two types of objectives– personalisation, that is linking content with your past and current experiences and future aspirations. And contextualisation, linking content with your current organisation context and the broader business environment. I believe that in our discussions we can attain a balance between them so that one informs the other.


Organisations rely on their managers to lead and execute strategic projects in order to realise their broader objectives.

Initiatives such as mergers, acquisitions, product launches and strategic realignments all demand skills in navigating complexity, understanding risk and effective stakeholder management.

If their managers lack such capabilities, then organisations will struggle to take advantage of new opportunities, drive change or create value.

An effective project is about more than good planning and scheduling; they need to be managed efficiently too, avoiding pitfalls and delivering the right outcome.

In any project, you must address:

  • Complex issues and diverse, conflicting requirements 
  • Unforeseen developments and a high degree of uncertainty
  • The importance of building relationships within teams and with stakeholders, where you provide leadership and facilitate knowledge transfer
  • The different management approaches required for different projects and their goals.

Leading Strategic Projects Successfully is a three-day programme that provides project leaders with this holistic view.

We adopt a managerial – rather than technical – perspective, focusing on issues that concern those who lead projects. We also consider the impact on those who may have oversight and those who will be required to implement new initiatives.

Why Cambridge?

Cambridge Judge Business School offers a distinctive approach born out of the University of Cambridge way.

  • Drawing on cutting-edge academic research, as you would expect from a business school with 19 research centres
  • This programme draws upon very senior members of Faculty, including the Director of the School, the Co-Director of our Enterprise Centre and a past Director of Executive Education. As a consequence they bring a huge breadth of experience with diverse organisations at moments of strategic change
  • The University of Cambridge has always emphasised smaller class sizes for maximum interaction and focused effort between world-class faculty and top quality participants. Cambridge Judge is no exception. We have class sizes of no more than 25. This makes your experience here one of unrivalled quality, relevance and impact.
Thank you again. It was, by a long distance, the best professional training I have ever had. The stimulation and opportunities for reflection were (and are) priceless. Watching Kishore, Stelios and Christoph (programme faculty) was an absolute masterclass in modern day lecturing (e.g. facilitation). My head remains sore from the ideas, thoughts and insights and for that, I am most grateful!
Dr Mark Bloomfield, Director of Revenue Management, Global Media & Entertainment


The programme covers the following topics:

Infographic representing the four topics as outlined below.

This highly interactive programme comprises simulations, exercises, role-playing games, cases, discussions and lectures. With simulations, exercises, role-playing games, cases, discussions and lectures, all sessions are highly interactive. You will leave the programme with a clear understanding of concepts and practical tools which you can directly apply to your own projects.

  • Planning and control
  • Managing uncertainty
  • Relationship management
  • Aligning your project with strategy.
The programme is perfectly designed around my needs. It was great to have the possibility to debate with the professors as well as the rest of the class.
Alessandra Zigliotto, Programe Manager, illycaffè


  • Improve your project-based skills, to deliver your projects to objectives, on time and on budget
  • Learn the fundamentals of better planning and control
  • Learn to handle complexity and uncertainty to cope with difficult external environments
  • Understand and manage project teams and stakeholders relationships
  • Understand strategy cascading.
Icon: Executive Education Certificates of Achievement.

This programme counts towards the Cambridge Judge Business School General Management Certificate of Achievement. On completing the GMCA you will be eligible to become an associate member of Cambridge Judge Business School’s global network of graduates and business-focused University of Cambridge alumni, faculty and staff.

Watch this short video to hear Dorian speak about his experience on Leading Strategic Projects Successfully.

I already have an Executive MBA, so I was looking for– I came with some topics in my mind and objectives to explore, to complement my knowledge. One of them was to validate some thinking with faculty and colleagues and classmates on certain topics. The other one was to find out certain models and frameworks and approaches that I can use in practise. And finally, also, to use this course as a stepping stone to the General Management Certificate of Achievement.

I found this programme very, very interesting, but also pretty challenging. One of the key benefits of this course is that it applies theory into practise there and then. So key topics and concepts are ingrained in your memory.

A project at the macro level is a process. But also, good and successful projects, although they are unique in their own right, they have many standardised processes within them. For people that would like a hands-on project management course, this is not it. For people that would like to look at key topics and concepts from the strategic level, then this is the right place to be.

Intuitively we all know what defines a complex project, but being given the tools to break a difficult project down into its constituent parts (and clearly articulate the challenges) is incredibly useful in helping to better govern/manage towards a successful outcome.
Jane Lingham, Director Media, Brand and Planning, BBC
It struck me just how integrated and networked Cambridge is as an environment, its people – I think having such a sense of community is rather unique for a city. The way the course was run, and what I can take away will, I think, leave a lasting impression that I can reflect upon, when I think about people networks in the future. This is a key ‘takeaway’ for leading projects successfully.
James Crawford, Senior Technical Product Manager, Ordnance Survey

Who should attend

This programme is suitable for executives involved in different project roles (leaders, sponsors or implementers) involved in: 

  • Managing complex projects
  • New product or service development and planning marketing campaigns
  • Driving change management initiatives, mergers/ acquisitions or organisational restructuring 
  • Implementing breakthrough projects, creating new business models, setting up new businesses/ subsidiaries

Participants are not required to have had specialised project management training, but will usually be responsible for implementing strategic projects. Executives with little or no project management experience are also welcome to attend if they are seeking to acquire a framework for project leadership and management.

Those who primarily seek hands-on training on specific technical aspects such as PERT/GERT charts or work breakdown structures are recommended to look for other programmes.

Since attending the programme I now make an extra effort to understand and listen to all stakeholders. This has been a step by step process, but it has now become second nature and I analyse and ask for every possible interest or point of view. I have also been able to categorise the different projects we have in the company and am able to prioritise them in a more logical, risk averse way than before.
Guido Moncada, CFO, American Security Corporation

Faculty & speakers

Stylianos (Stelios) Kavadias

Margaret Thatcher Professor of Enterprise Studies in Innovation & Growth


Christoph H Loch

Professor of Management Studies

PhD (Stanford Graduate School of Business)

Kishore Sengupta

Professor of Operations Management

MBA, PhD (Case Western University)

All the faculty are internationally recognised researchers and practitioners on the topic of managing projects. They have deep experience in teaching similar programmes for executives at the University of Cambridge and in other leading business schools.

Dates & fees



Fees *

27-29 June 2022

3 days

£3,300 + VAT

VAT is charged at the prevailing rate, which is currently 20%; e.g. £3,300 + 20% = £3,960.

* Fees include instruction, materials, lunch and breaks, as well as a gala dinner. Preferential rates may be available for groups, University of Cambridge alumni and members of the School’s Alumni Association. Please note prices pre-registration are subject to change.

For information regarding payment terms, cancellation rights, transfer policies and fees, please see our terms & conditions documents:

Terms & Conditions for Self-funded Applicants (pdf, 277KB) (updated 25 August 2021)
Terms & Conditions for Organisation-funded Applicants (pdf, 295KB) (updated 25 August 2021)

Registration closes at midday two working days before the programme start date.

Participants are expected to attend the full programme.

Please ensure that you have read our Frequently Asked Questions, which provide important additional information about our face-to-face and Live Online programmes, in particular during the COVID-19 pandemic.

I manage a portfolio of strategic projects but have little formal training, so the breadth of the subject matter and insights were extremely helpful. The programme was well organised with high quality teaching and capable and interesting attendees.
David Tudor, Portfolio Manager – Marine Infrastructure, The Crown Estate

Reserve a place

Our programmes are very popular and tend to fill quickly. We cap the group size at 25. It is therefore advisable to reserve a place on specific sessions. This will simply keep your place until you are able to send in the application form, and we will remain in touch with you to inform you when the programme is almost full.

Reserve a place

Fabulous! A well-constructed programme that allowed sophisticated discussion and peer to peer learning. All the faculty had great passion and energy with excellent practical examples.
Mollie Pearse, Senior Campaign Manager, LinkedIn
I have gained lots of new insights on project strategy with some good practical knowledge I can use immediately – there were lots of ‘lightbulb’ moments over the three days.
Jinit Shah, Xtreme Adventures

If you have any questions or would like to have a chat about this programme and how it could benefit you or your organisation, please get in touch with the programme advisor:

Elizabeth McDonald

Corporate Business Development Director
Tel: +44 (0)1223 765496
Mob: +44 (0)7548 708065

Schedule a call with Elizabeth

[email protected]

Access Elizabeth's profile

Elizabeth McDonald

Version 9 (29 April 2021)


Managing Organisations


3 days


27-29 June 2022


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