Thank you Steve Kennedy!

Steve Kennedy , 13 July 2017

Steve Kennedy led the ACA for five years as National President, from 2012 to 2017, and was responsible for its direction, strategy, quality, effectiveness and reputation. In that time, the association has seen major developments in its focus, role and engagement with the profession and wider industry.

Steve fostered and led this remarkable transformation, which was framed by the Strategic Plan adopted in 2012 and enacted by the National Executive Committee.

“I have greatly enjoyed and learnt a lot from my time leading the ACA. I am gratified, impressed and pleased by what we have achieved in the past five years and by what the organisation is now – an effective, powerful and influential voice for the architectural industry. I was only the second national president in the ACA's history, something I never took for granted, and I leave the position with mixed emotions.”—Steve Kennedy

Steve took his role very seriously, and dedicated a great deal of energy to it. We pay tribute to Steve’s work, enthusiasm and commitment.

“When we started the journey with the strategic plan we didn't quite know where it would end up, but your inclusive leadership and quiet dedication has made the ACA a wonderful organisation to be part of.”— John Held, ACA National Vice President, ACA – SA President

“Thank you for the opportunity to work with you over the last three years. Your leadership has been pivotal in the rejuvenation of the ACA. You have clearly helped to lead the ACA on a focused path, helping to support its members and the architectural profession. You have helped build relevance and value into the services the ACA provides. Well done!” — Mark Williams, ACA – Qld/NT President

“It has been a pleasure working with you. The ACA is a clear example of how a federated model can work if you have the right leadership. All issues have been resolved and agreed through consensus, which is a testament to your leadership, intellect and patience. Due to your efforts, the ACA is clearly heading in the right direction. Its reputation and profile have significantly increased, its traction within the profession is undoubted and yet it has remained an agile, responsive organisation. Thanks again for your dedication, energy and the time you have invested in the association.” — Paul Viney, ACA – Vic/Tas President

“Dear Steve, I have admired your foresight, intuition and determination in advancing, by necessity, what was a one-dimensional organisation, into a multi-layered resource centre that provides a wealth of knowledge and information to its members. As much as all that, I have enjoyed the time I have spent with you and the spirit of camaraderie you engendered into the ACA team.” — Simon Hanger, former ACA – Vic/Tas President

So, what has been achieved, and what work is still to be done? We ask Steve to review his time as President and to look forward to what the future holds.

What are some of the ACA’s biggest achievements during your time as President? 

There are many: the development of a strong and effective team, pursuing a genuinely equitable federated model that has seen the branches grow in strength alongside the national body; the delivery of possibly the best news service and website on architectural business issues anywhere; the success of our national webinar program; our leadership on salaries and employment practices; our advocacy with governments across the country on improving procurement practices; the strong relationships we have formed with allied organisations; our development of the Business Toolkit, which offers practices a range of key tools to help them plan and manage their businesses.

The ACA has been attracting new members at a remarkable rate, and no organisation is of any benefit unless it has a strong membership.

However, perhaps the greatest achievement has been the open, friendly, collaborative and professional manner with which all of this has been achieved. The energy, goodwill and enthusiasm throughout the organisation, at all levels, are truly remarkable. Our committees are strong, our staff dedicated and our members loyal.

What have been the greatest challenges the industry faces in recent times?

The challenges have been the same as have been discussed for many years – the disparate character of the industry, the lack of adequate business training for architects, the concerns about poor procurement processes at all levels of engagement, the constant concerns about the quantum of responsibility an architect is expected to accept on a project, the apparent continuing erosion of fees and skills, the fluctuations in workflow and the degree to which the industry is subject to the economy and so on.

However, I have always maintained that the core issue is the lack of respect and recognition in Australia for the importance of architecture and the architectural industry to the wellbeing of both our culture and our economy.

This is our broader agenda – to ensure the best possible industrial and business environment within which to deliver architecture.

How has the ACA helped members to face these challenges?

From a long-term strategic perspective, the only way to address these challenges is through education – education of both the industry and the broader community.  

The ACA’s approach has been to firstly get our house in order and then set out to develop the information necessary to educate others and change attitudes.

So, our program over the last five years has been consistent in its approach to this. We have simultaneously built the knowledge base of our membership while gathering the information needed to inform our broader agenda.

Have you noticed changes in the membership of the ACA in recent times? 

The interesting thing is that the membership, while it has grown substantially in a relatively short period of time, has continued to reflect the make up and diversity of the industry. We have large, medium and small practices as members and represented on our committees. This is one of the true strengths of the ACA.

What remains to be done?

Heaps.

We have achieved much, especially in building the ACA Business Toolkit, but there is a long way in terms of informing and changing the national understanding of how important the architectural industry is to Australia's cultural and economic prosperity. Delivering such obvious things as nationally consistent procurement practices is still some way off, but I am confident we can do it.

What do you see as the future of the ACA? How will it continue to develop and grow?

The ACA has a very positive future. All organisations, like businesses, go through different stages and cycles. I see the ACA as entering a new phase right now, where the emphasis will move from being primarily inwardly focused to a strong outward agenda – speaking out more, increasing our work as advocates.

What advice would you give to your successor?

I am particularly excited about Kieran taking on the role. He has many skills I do not and will do an exemplary job.

How will the architect's role change in the future? What opportunities do you see for practitioners and how will they best take advantage of these?

Architects, like just about everyone in service industries, face many new challenges, especially from globalisation.
I think one of the key successes to the ACA has been how we have applied good business practice to build a not-for-profit organisation. Staying focused, disciplined, fair, imaginative and flexible – these principles will not change, whatever the economic climate.

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