23 June 2017

An example of successful industry-university collaboration

In December 2006, one of South Africa’s leading construction and engineering companies, Group 5, invited proposals for project management training from several training providers. After rigorous assessment of the proposals received, the company selected the Graduate School of Technology Management of the University of Pretoria to assist with the furthering of the project management discipline within the group and its subsidiaries.   The course had to be a customized version of the Programme in Project Management (PPM) that had already been running successfully since 1997.


After several months of discussions to tailor the University’s project management course to the needs of Group 5, the first course intake commenced on 9 June 2007.   Since the launch of the first intake, 8 more intakes of the PPM course were successfully completed within the first 10 years of collaboration.  While the responsibility for the academic content of the project management course is with the Graduate School of Technology Management of the University of Pretoria, course arrangements are facilitated by the Enterprises company (the continuing education platform of the University). 

A total number of 244 Group Five delegates have been enrolled on the 9 courses and a relatively high pass rate was achieved, signifying that the delegates mastered the skills required to manage their projects successfully.

To hone the project management skills of the selected participants, a multi-disciplinary team of lecturers – each a subject matter expert in a specific project management knowledge area – ensured the development of project managers with a working knowledge of the broad range of disciplines needed for successful project management.  Over the years at least 13 lecturers contributed to the success of the programme.  In addition, the Group 5 Academy made major contributions to develop the delegate’s other abilities, such as presentation skills.  Several managers from Group Five also presented as guest lectures on the programme.

The ninth graduation ceremony held on 25 May 2017, signified a significant milestone in this collaboration on project management training.

Mr Jacques le Roux, head of the Group 5 Academy, comments on the decade of collaboration by saying:

We started this programme almost 10 years ago to enrich our first line project managers to have the necessary skills sets to turn loss making projects into profit making projects.  We did more than that over the past decade – we built a professional internal project management body that is able to function across our various construction, manufacturing and concession businesses.  We are extremely proud to have partnered 10 years ago with the University of Pretoria and have seen this programme and our relationship grow to where it is today”.   

The University commends the Group 5 Academy for their pivotal role in the success of the programme. They also praise the executive management for their active support and involvement in the programme. This included selecting the right course participants from their business units and keeping them accountable for their performance on the course; participation in course events such as the presentation of project plans by syndicates, as well as attending events such as certification ceremonies.  This executive involvement and enthusiasm for the programme have ensured that the programme enjoys the necessary priority and that sound project management practices move from the lecture room to the construction sites.

The 9 courses for Group Five forms part of 154 times that the PPM has been presented since its first launch on 31 August 1997.