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Enhancing the quality of life for all Queensland communities

Leigh Cunningham is a lawyer with a career as a senior executive for a number of public companies in Australia and global companies headquartered in Singapore where she lived for 12 years. 


Prior to returning to Australia to take up her current position as CEO for IPWEAQ, Leigh was the Executive Director and General Counsel for the Association of Independent Authors and previously, Director Finance & Operations, Asia for Worldtrade Management Services (a business unit of PricewaterhouseCoopers). 


Leigh has 24 years’ experience in membership organisations including as the CEO for the Institute of Arbitrators & Mediators, Australia and concurrently as the Secretary-General for the Australian Centre for International Commercial Arbitration, and as the Executive Director of the Australian Institute of Project Management.


Leigh has three master’s degrees in law, commerce and an MBA where she graduated ‘Top Student’. She is also the author of four multi award-winning books.

CEO's Report
December 2019

I had thought 2018 was fastpaced but 2019 now makes 2018 feel like a Sunday walk in the park. It has been another successful year for IPWEAQ with strong financial results (a net profit of $111,993), membership growth of 12% (13% growth for younger professionals) and recordbreaking conferences with over 2,000 delegates attending an IPWEAQ conference or course over the past 12 months. With almost 600 delegates at the Excellence Awards dinner/ ceremony and 525 delegates at the 2019 Annual Conference, we can lay claim to the biggest, most attended, premier event for professionals in our sector in Australasia.


We also expanded our capability with four new roles created this year focussing on campaigns for younger professionals, rural/regional communities (Go West), professional development and technical solutions. Plans are underway to recruit two more employees in the New Year and to relocate to larger offices since we outgrew our current premises earlier this year.


A number of new courses and new technical solutions were launched this year and reviews initiated of governing structures (ADAC) and publications (Supervisor’s Handbook). And there is much more planned or in progress for launch in 2020 as we continue to listen to you and focus on your needs.


We’ve collaborated extensively with state government and other professional associations and peak bodies developing joint initiatives across the sector. We engage regularly with the QRA and QAO and we’ve signed cooperative agreements with the Local Government Financial Professionals (LGFP) and AAPA, and continue to work closely with the ARRB Group.


We are already well into planning mode for 2020 with the President’s Breakfast in February recognising the contribution to our successes from our Partners and sponsors. The Breakfast will also launch the 2020 excellence awards and our President’s Charity, Rural Aid.


We have seven more key events following the Breakfast commencing with the SWQ Branch conference in Stanthorpe, 20-22 February, a new Asset Management Symposium in Brisbane in April, the CQ Branch conference in Maryborough late April, the second Rural Roads & Maintenance Forum in Dalby in May, the SEQ Branch Conference in Caloundra also in May and the NQ Branch conference in Townsville in June. The Annual Conference next year will be in Cairns in November.

The IPWEAQ team at #IPWEAQ19

A huge thank you to all of you who enabled our ongoing progression by endorsing the new corporate structure – a Company Limited by Guarantee (CLBG) with a supporting constitution that ensures we are in a position to respond to whatever challenges come our way. It was a proud moment to see the Institute effectively grow up – a CLBG is a more respected corporate structure which offers confidence and security to those who trade with us.


So while 2018 seemed fastpaced and 2019 sped past like the Shinkansen, there is no sign that we will be easing up with 2020 on approach. I would like to thank the amazing people who come to work for us every day – in engineering and water – and for their commitment to our members (individual and corporate) and to our sector. See our team of highachievers on pages 98-99 of the journal.


Christmas is a reminder about the importance of family but is often forgotten as soon as the normal pattern of life takes control again. As I discovered in August this year, in a heartbeat you can find yourself losing someone you cannot accept losing and life as you knew it is past memory. So please take care on the roads this Christmas and make your New Year all about the people who matter to you.


Thank you all for being a part of our community. It is a privilege to be working for you.

Leigh Cunningham

Chief Executive Officer