A Message from Kieran Wong, ACA National President Elect

Kieran Wong , 14 July 2017

I am writing to introduce myself to the broader ACA membership and advise of a few key changes that have recently occurred. Until the end of last week, my wife Emma Williamson and I were the directors of CODA, a medium-sized practice based in Fremantle, Western Australia. We joined the ACA in 2014, attracted by the practical business support, networking opportunities and advocacy offered by the organisation. I joined the ACA – WA committee a short time later, at the invitation of then-President Richard Young, of JCY Architects. Since 2016, I have held the position of ACA – WA President, a role I have relished. 

On 1 July, Steve Kennedy stood down from the position of ACA National President, a role he has occupied with professionalism, collegiality and skill since 2012. As a member of the ACA’s National Executive Committee (NEC) I have benefited greatly from Steve’s wise counsel, his patient and diligent attitude to getting things done, and his consensus-building approach to leadership. The ACA has transformed under his watch, enabled by the incredible commitment of branch committees, members and executive officers across Australia. Last year at our bi-annual NEC face-to-face meeting in Melbourne, Steve announced his plan to retire and I was unanimously nominated as National President Elect. It is a role that I gladly accept and am looking forward to being formalised in the coming weeks.

Since 1 July my practice, CODA, has also made a transition. We have merged with renowned Australian practice, Cox Architecture. Emma and I have become Directors and all of our staff have moved into a new practice from our home base in Fremantle to Perth – big changes across the board, and an exciting phase for us all. This merger and my new role at Cox give me unique insight into architectural practice at two distinct scales – small-to-medium and large. The ACA provides resources and opportunities to member practices of all scales and I am very keen to ensure that our value as an organisation continues to grow. 

The ACA, as a national member-driven organisation, has the strength and capability to support the growth of architectural practice across Australia. Our federated model offers branch autonomy, both strategic and financial, while enabling strong connections and advocacy at a national level. Our tools, resources, member events, educational programs and networking opportunities, along with our continual advocacy for the improvement of legislative and business frameworks, means each branch is busy and buoyant. The combination of empowered local branches and a dedicated NEC ensures meaningful, agile and direct responsiveness to local issues. 

Our website, skillfully edited by the irrepressible Justine Clark, has grown in reach and content since its launch in 2014, and is now an invaluable resource when doing business in Australia. Our ongoing commitment to research and monitoring, through activities such as the annual Salary Survey, assists our branches in advocating for better conditions, procurement processes and the value of sustainable architectural business. One of my aims is to continue to improve website content. We will better direct focused content to our members according to their particular scale and experience, ensuring that our tools, pro-forma and resources are easy to access and relevant.

Our network of executive officers is knowledgeable, approachable and pro-active. They understand the challenges of conducting business in today’s challenging economic climate. Thank you to Michelle Eades in Victoria, Sascha Byrne in South Australia, Louise Street in Queensland and the Northern Territory, Marie Frost in New South Wales and Emma Brain in Western Australia.

I feel very positive about the future of the ACA and of architectural practice in Australia. Part of our mission is to engage more fully with other allied organisations, including the Australian Institute of Architects, Consult Australia and the Master Builders Association. Each state president makes a distinct and meaningful contribution to the operation of the ACA. John Held brings a focus on research, communication, and building and supporting the architectural community, along with his role as Deputy Chair of the Australian Construction Industry Forum (ACIF). Paul Viney is our primary driver of member resources and tools. Agi Sterling, recently elected as NSW/ACT President, is a passionate advocate for small practice. Mark Williams tackles financial custodianship and managing the challenge of a federated budget! As our Immediate Past President, Steve Kennedy continues to be a source of stewardship and counsel to us all.

I am very keen to ensure that the work of the ACA reflects the real needs of our member’s businesses, and continues to grow and prosper as it has done over the past five years. Please contact me at any time to discuss the issues that matter to you most, and to offer suggestions as to how the ACA can assist you in the Business of Architecture.

Kieran Wong is National President Elect of the ACA and a director of Cox Architecture.

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