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 the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia, Queensland (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 22 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 as ‘Top Student’. She is also the author of four multi award-winning books.
An extremely busy year for all of us was capped off with a successful state conference in Brisbane last month. At this year’s event we introduced a few new concepts including IPWEAQ Bingo at the welcome function, the fireside chat offering centre stage to three of our emerging engineers and the great debate, ‘women make better engineers than men’ which closed the conference and through live polling declared the affirmative team the winners with 75% of the vote. Michael Pascoe did a brilliant job as moderator of the debate and noted that a woman has in fact ‘made’ all engineers, a point not picked up by either team.
Michael was also MC for the entire conference and delivered an interesting keynote presentation about our economy. He thoroughly enjoyed being involved and learnt a lot about engineers and what is special about the public works sector, in particular our sense of community. We hope to have Michael back again next year in Townsville.
Also new this year are the conference podcasts including all keynote and plenary sessions and all presentations delivered in all 12 streams plus delegate and exhibitor interviews. These will be made available to paid conference delegates shortly and will be available to other members who were unable to attend the conference for a ‘digital conference’ registration fee. The podcasts represent up to 12.5 hours of CPD. Many of you have contacted us keen to access these as soon as possible and we are busily developing the platform that will not only house the podcasts but enable key word searchability through proper cataloguing which requires detailed analysis of the content. To achieve this, we have engaged an experienced digital librarian, our new Information Resources Manager, Robyn Edmanson.
Almost everyone who has contacted us for the podcasts has specifically mentioned a keenness to listen again to the keynote from Stefan Hajowkicz, CSIRO scientist whose presentation on mega trends emphasised the dramatic nature of our changing world. Stefan’s key take away was to be prepared to “rattle the cage” ie be prepared to challenge the status quo and not just follow past practices if they no longer serve you or your organisation. History is an interesting study and a good reference point but the past is not the future. If you should remain there – stuck in the past, the world will move on without you; it is as certain as death and taxes. History is also littered with stories of people and organisations that failed to adapt to change and became irrelevant. The worst reason for doing anything is, 'because this is how it has always been done'.
In the new year, we will also be launching our new Knowledge
Centre which will include full searchability of (paper) conference proceedings,
articles published in our journal, presentations made at all branch conferences
and the podcasts, and additionally, Robyn will source other relevant sector
articles from Australia and overseas. This will be a valuable resource only
accessible for IPWEAQ members and on a subscription basis for other IPWEA
division members. So please check to ensure your membership is current. In the
new year, you will be able to set up an auto debit facility to ensure you
continue to be a part of our vital community.
Professional development is also high on our agenda for 2017. We will be developing new programs and revising many of our traditional courses with new content and new delivery modes including podcasting to ensure members in outer regions are not disadvantaged. We recently signed a cooperative agreement with the ARRB Group to share our respective strengths in particular areas of training for the benefit of our respective members. This continues the theme of the 2016 conference into 2017 as we collaborate by focussing our efforts and saving resources by not reinventing what is already developed to a high standard. The ARRB Group are recognised leaders in roads and transport and we are recognised leaders in understanding the specific needs of the public works sector in Queensland – the two are highly compatible as are our core values.
Every day I get to come to work for you - our members, Partners, council Supporters and sponsors - with the most amazing team of people. I am so grateful for their contribution, energy and enthusiasm with unwavering focus on what we need to do to support what you do ie make Queensland great(er). Thank you, Carlie, Craig, Ross, Erin, Jeannette, Tom and Robyn! And thank you also to our incredible members of the board led by Joe Bannan – they are forward-thinkers and proactive and realise there is no time for us to stand still or look backwards.
Next year is going to be full of great initiatives for IPWEAQ and we are glad to have you together with us for the journey.