Future Focus Group

Our business and civic leadership program continues to develop the leadership our city needs.

Download our Future Focus Group brochure – PDF

Future Focus Group: An incubator of ideas for our city

Our business and civic leadership program, Future Focus Group (FFG), which runs over 21 months, is a transformational experience for emerging leaders which has already nurtured over 400 of Melbourne's leaders. 

Now in its third decade, the program features an induction weekend, 19 evening workshops and active one-on-one mentoring, as well as opportunities to build enduring relationships with other participants and alumni.  

Participants are put into truly diverse project teams of six to eight to work on FFG projects that they select and pitch to the Committee for consideration. The projects eventually agreed to by the Committee are designed to contribute tangibly and positively to the future economy, infrastructure development, urban densification or liveability of Melbourne – the four policy platforms of the Committee.

The Class of 2018-2019 will graduate this November and the Class of 2019-2020 commenced with an Induction Weekend in February. The nomination period for the 2020-2021 Program, which is currently expected to commence in February 2020, will open in August 2019. 

Please contact Future Focus Group General Manager Matt Gaffney for further information.

 About Future Focus Group: A transformational experience

From big business through to universities and genuine not-for-profits, Future Focus Group attracts participants from every sector of the Committee’s membership base. This broad exposure enables participants to develop connections and work with colleagues outside their usual circles, creating a network of professional relationships and friendships that can last a lifetime.

Having celebrated its 21st anniversary in 2017, this valued and elite 21 month program brings talented people together, fostering practical leadership skills by providing project-based, real-life learning experiences and unique access to senior business and community leaders. It develops our future leaders so that they can better influence the decisions around ensuring our city remains inclusive and prosperous.

So what is the Future Focus Group?

    • Team-based projects – Creation of truly diverse project teams of around seven members, with each project team required to identify and pursue a project that can make a tangible contribution to an improvement in Melbourne’s future economy, infrastructure development, urban optimisation and/or liveability
    • Structured developmental activities – An initial induction weekend culminating in the announcement of project teams and monthly workshops featuring a mix of guest speakers and panellists on issues critical to Melbourne, as well as subject matter experts
    • Access to mentoring – Support in identifying and securing an aspirational mentor who has leadership responsibilities in Melbourne, is not from the participant's organisation and can provide fresh perspectives
    • Connecting and sharing – Interactions with all other program participants, not just members of a participant’s project team
    • Targeted outcomes – Enduring personal and professional development, along with rich connections and tangible contributions to improving Melbourne
    • Enhanced capabilities – Participants have reported improvements in communication, responsibility, emotional intelligence, engagement, strategic thinking, problem solving, social leadership, respect, confidence, resolve and understanding of team dynamics.

 What does a typical 'FFGer' look like?

The typical attributes of a candidate for the Future Focus Group are: 

    • 8 to 15 years’ work experience, combined with current middle management or upper management responsibilities
    • Able to commit to the program for its duration, including attendance at the Induction Weekend and at 15 or more of the 19 workshops
    • A strong interest in making Melbourne a better place
    • Recognised by leaders of the organisation as a likely future leader of that organisation
    • A keen desire to develop leadership skills through a practical learning model in a challenging, diverse team environment 

For information about this program, contact Matt Gaffney, General Manager, Future Focus Group:

T   +61 (3) 9650 8800

E   mgaffney@melbourne.org.au

A selection of past projects

The project group submitted a detailed submission to the Victorian Government for tram travel in the Melbourne CBD and Docklands to be made free-of-charge to enhance the liveability of the CBD. Using the government’s prescribed ‘Investment Lifecycle Guidelines’, the submission included information gained from consultation with key stakeholders, as well as detailed financial and transport modelling, utilising the Melbourne Integrated Transport Model.

After sustained advocacy by the group members and the Committee, free tram travel in the CBD and Docklands was introduced in January 2015, making Melbourne a more enjoyable place to visit, work, learn and live. 

The project group successfully developed and launched Open House Melbourne. The aim was to establish an annual free-of-charge event to showcase to Melburnians and national and international visitors, the wealth of architecture and design nestled in and around our city.

The inaugural Open House Melbourne event , held on 20 July 2008, with more than 30,000 visits to eight buildings, now attracts more than 130,000 visitors to over 100 buildings.

In 2012, Open House Melbourne received the prestigious Melbourne Award for Contribution to Profile by a Community Organisation as well as a Special Award from the Australian Institute of Architecture in recognition for its work promoting architecture to the public. Now an incorporated not-for-profit association, Open House Melbourne is part of the Open House Worldwide Network founded by Open House London.


The outcome of this project was the launch of a world-first green roof design competition open to both professional and student architects and landscape architects. Building owners were encouraged to register their roofs for the chance to win a fully-funded, architecturally-designed green roof. The result was the installation of a green roof on a CBD building at 131 Queen Street, Melbourne, which was officially opened on 15 July 2010 by the Lord Mayor.

Funding and in-kind support in excess of $500,000 from government, private enterprise and suppliers was secured as well as an Australian Research Council linkage grant of over $3 million for future green roof research.

This project continues to inform policy and generate interest subsequently inspiring the Growing Green Guide: A Guide to Green Roofs, Walls and Façades as well as regular press coverage.

In partnership with the City of Melbourne’s Office of Knowledge Capital and other key stakeholders, the project group developed and organised a welcome booth at Melbourne Airport for international students that included a team of volunteers, who handed out information packs containing information relating to employment, accommodation, city services, safety and social integration. Over 4000 information welcome packs were handed to foreign students arriving in February 2009.

All of the project participants were invited by the Office of Knowledge Capital to be part of the Office of Knowledge Capital International Education Reference Advisory Group. This project continues to this day as the City of Melbourne's 'Welcome Desk'.

The project group initiated the creation of a bronze sculpture of the main characters from Norman Lindsay's The Magic Pudding, as a centrepiece of a CBD-based children's garden precinct. The Magic Pudding sculpture was commissioned, cast at the Victorian College of the Arts and unveiled in 2000 at the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne by Norman Lindsay's granddaughter Helen Glad. Now known as The Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden, the garden along with the sculpture, has become a popular Melbourne landmark.

Following this project, one of the participants founded and established the Melbourne Prize Trust, which runs the Melbourne Prize for Urban Sculpture, the Melbourne Prize for Literature and the Melbourne Prize for Music in a three-year cycle and has to date, made available approximately $1 million to Victorian artists.

"Amongst the Committee's greatest assets must surely be the participants and alumni of the Future Focus Group."

The Honourable Linda Dessau AM, Governor of Victoria & Future Focus Group Patron