Key insights

Urbis, a rapidly growing professional services firm, has the ambition to shape Australian cities and communities for a better future.

To keep pace with growth, Urbis required a new generation of leaders to step up, so we activated 25 leaders to realise Urbis’ growth strategy.

Since then, more than 50 per cent of alumni from our program Bold Futures have moved into broader leadership roles including executive roles, within the firm.



Urbis is an international professional services firm dedicated to improving quality of life in cities and communities in Australia and overseas. From its origins in town planning, the company has expanded to encompass many other services related to urban development, including property and retail economics, social planning, heritage, community engagement and research.

The company’s recent growth had been rapid – doubling in size – and the Executive team could see that its leaders were becoming stretched. It was critical that Urbis scaled its leadership in proportion with its growing workforce, because the company’s ambitious plan was to double yet again.

The difficulty many professional services firms experience as they grow stems from the fact that the senior people remain heavily involved with client projects. This is understandable as they are technical specialists in this work, and they’ve likely built their careers on it. However, unless they migrate to greater leadership responsibilities, or surround themselves with others with strong leadership skills, the risk is that although the business is growing, it is also growing weaker.

Urbis was well aware of this tendency and appointed Maximus to build a bespoke program to help their emerging leaders across the company step up. Bold Futures was a deeply immersive program, with extensive Executive sponsorship and ongoing involvement. Participants felt fully supported as they were prepared for bigger challenges.

We instilled a mindset within the Bold Futures cohort that leadership is not something you do, a task, but is very much a part of who you are. We broadened their horizons from being technical specialists to having an enterprise-wide perspective. As well as building confidence, we built connections across this peer group so they were able to support and advise each other.

Fifty per cent of the program participants have already stepped up into new and more senior roles since completing the program, some into executive roles in the business. One of the participants gave this insight:

“Of all the leadership courses I have done over the years, I found that Bold Futures was hands-down the most impactful. Its resonance has lasted long after the program wrapped, to the extent that many of us didn’t even realise that the course had ended because the dialogue and focus still live with us each day.”

Another also described the impact:

“It gave me a voice.”