Leadership Team Coaching Case Studies

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Gorgon Civils and Underground Services Project

Developing a High-Performance Project Culture


The Gorgon Civils and Underground Services Project on Barrow Island off the coast of northwest Australia was one of the largest projects in the group that comprised the massive Chevron Gorgon Project. The Chevron Project involved the development of the Great Gorgon gas fields, subsea gas-gathering infrastructure, and a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plan on Barrow Island and was Australia’s fourth LNG export development and one of the largest infrastructure projects in the country’s history.

The Civils and Underground Services Project was delivered by a major Australian contracting business for A$3 billion and involved 2,500 contracting personnel.

Case For Action

Rohan O’Grady, a highly skilled operational professional and Project Director, was doing an excellent job of leading the project but knew from experience that more was possible. He had a geographically divided leadership team that inhibited high performance teamwork and team members who were technically competent but needed support to develop their 21st century leadership skills. The team was comprised of functional and operational leaders.

Rohan was introduced to Hewsons Partner, Carolyn Dean, in August 2011 to discuss the challenges and begin the design of the intervention.

"We had a different company doing team-building before we worked with Hewsons … it was nothing different. When we first met Carolyn, there was a level of accountability she was going to bring to us…it was transformational…we got that we were going to operate differently after working with Hewsons."

High Performing Project Leadership Teams Programme

Hewsons developed this programme in recognition of the different variables experienced on a Project than those in a standard business. One of the first challenges to overcome was the client’s perception of having the leadership team of one of its biggest projects ‘off island’ for any length of time. After a couple of false starts it was agreed that programme delivery would happen on the island.

The first session of the programme was the two-day Engagement Coaching Workshop. The purpose of this workshop was to provide the team with a foundation of simple but powerful concepts that would leave them engaged with operating responsibly and with integrity, and to having themselves and others fully engaged with driving a high-performance culture across the project.

In this workshop, the individuals had an opportunity to raise their awareness of what drives their behaviour and the behaviour of others by:

  • Exploring how their view of the world impacts their ability to lead effectively.
  • Understanding the constraint their existing comfort zone imposes on their leadership and how to expand their comfort zone.
  • Gaining a deeper understanding of accountability, responsibility and integrity at a personal and team level.
  • Learning how the integrity of the network of agreements they operate in as a team dictates their performance and practising in real time how to restore and manage their agreements with one another.

This first workshop was followed by five more one-day workshops designed to train and develop the leadership team in driving a high-performance culture as individuals and as a collective.

Between each of the group workshops each leader was given individual support in the form of one to one coaching.

In addition, Rohan asked Hewsons to deliver the Engagement Coaching Workshop to the next layer of leadership on the project and this work was also done with the commercial and finance team back in Perth.

"A lot of the work has been transformational, you know, the lenses through which we see the world and seeing things from another’s point of view, and also having completion discussions…. these have been exceptionally powerful in building the team."

Organisational Results

Impacting the performance of a project this size takes massaging and manipulating many complex areas simultaneously – rosters, processes, client contracts, interfaces with other delivery partners etc. Typically, projects of this type are deemed successful if they produce a profit of 8%, GCUS achieved 14%. The safety record of this project far exceeded all other companies on Gorgon and was viewed as a showcase example for the highly safety conscious Chevron. The leadership team shifted the relationship with their client from adversarial to collaborative over the course of 12 months and secured future work for the company. 


"It’s actually been life-changing, outside work as well."

"I was never very good at doing relatedness, I was transactional. Now I get that relationships are the foundation of accomplishment."

"We’ve been able to build a high-performing, accountable team. Our accountability is a lot stronger… also, giving clear directions and instructions…. it’s all changed completely."

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