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Enhancing the quality of life for all Queensland communities

Leigh Cunningham

Chief Executive Officer

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 2020

Another big year has come to pass and after a great start, we suddenly had to find new ways of entertaining ourselves without restaurants, bars, live music and walks along the river. At IPWEAQ, we were quarantined at home for just five weeks returning to the office as soon as restrictions were relaxed. And for some of us, that was not soon enough. That all seems like a distant memory and doesn’t seem as bad as it felt at the time. The rest of the year evaporated.

In the December issue of the journal, we get to celebrate the people who made our Annual Conference a success and again this year, despite the influence of the C-word, 440 people from our community turned up in Brisbane grateful for the opportunity to reconnect. While other conferences all around us were cancelling, we stayed the course and enjoyed a unique event with State of Origin Game II, and we stood still at the 11th hour on Wednesday 11th to give thanks to the soldiers who fought and died for us.

One of my priorities since joining the Institute five years ago, was to ensure we left behind a well-documented history so that those governing the Institute and our sector 50+ years from now will have an appreciation of our times. This journal was launched in March 2016 incorporating 100+ pages all about public works in Queensland, featuring articles about the issues and projects and also the activities of the Institute and our sector. The Excellence Awards Commemorative Book also documents the projects and people of our times, and we will soon be launching a series of individual Commemorative Booklets with all past winners for every award category – people and projects.

And about to be launched is our inaugural calendar, Every Community Needs an Engineer 2021 which features 12 varied projects from across Queensland from the Beames Brook Bridge in Burketown to the Waltzing Matilda Centre in Winton to an artificial reef on the Gold Coast. The objectives of the calendar are to (a) highlight the variety of projects delivered for our communities by public works engineers and (b) attract the next generation of civil engineers to our sector, inspired as they will be by these great projects. Each month will be accompanied by a campaign to highlight that particular type of project eg January is coastal engineering. The campaign will include promotions in regional and industry newspapers and newsletters, in schools and universities.

We are pleased to be continuing our collaboration with the Dream Big project executing an agreement with founder, Jessica Kahl earlier this month. The STEAM Ahead program offers a developmental experience to support and prepare women to become more skilled, confident and qualified.

On pages 17-22 of EPW, we’ve published a Fact Sheet from the CCC (Crime and Corruption Commission) which arose from a PW-TV session to discuss what amounts to corrupt conduct for those delivering professional engineering services without registration as an RPEQ. It was clear there was a lot of confusion about what can and can’t be done. Ultimately, the solution is to become an RPEQ and you won’t need to worry if you are over-stepping the mark.

Since we moved to significantly larger premises in June better equipped to accommodate our continuously expanding deliverables, we recruited two new Directors: Neal Lake, Director Engineering Practice (formerly at ARRB) and Scott Britton, Director Policy & Partnerships (formerly at LGAQ). Neal and Scott join our team of 24 (eight in water and 16 in engineering – all employees of IPWEAQ) who continued to deliver throughout 2020 in spite of the challenges we’ve all had to endure.

We are already well into planning mode for 2021 with the President’s Breakfast 5 February to recognise the contributions to our successes by our Partners and sponsors. The Breakfast will also launch the 2021 excellence awards and two new awards in the category, Employer of the Year (Public Works Sector): Private and Government.

We are in for an extremely busy start to 2021 with four branch conferences plus activities surrounding the launch of the Every Community Needs an Engineer campaign but in the meantime, Christmas comes each year with a reminder that people are not replaceable. Have a wonderful day with your family and best wishes for 2021 – every community needs you.

Thanks again to everyone who joined us for the Annual Conference. Thanks for being a member of IPWEAQ and for being a part of our community.

Leigh Cunningham

Chief Executive Officer