Mangement For Design

Winter Release

Consult Australia ASPAC Leaders Conference

M4D Directors Rob Peake and Gordana Milosevska attended the Consult Australia ASPAC leaders conference from the 3–5 May. The conference provided them with a unique opportunity to network, debate and discuss relevant topics and issues with their peers from 25 different countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Over the three days they heard from nearly 50 speakers on topics ranging from succession planning, to the political outlook, to mental health in the workplace.

Key messages


Succession: Charles Nelson told us that an exit strategy takes 10 years, so start planning! Look carefully at the levers affecting valuation of your business and invest in capital assets to increase value.


Cyber security: Before the world was hit by the recent ransomware attacks, Aptify, a software technology & services company were already telling us that we need more secure passwords, restrictions on system admins, tested disaster recovery plans, and cyber insurance.


Mental health: Speaker Karmal Sharma, Director of Rezilium and an RUOK ambassador, spoke about mental health becoming a growing issue in Australian workplaces. He believes that as we are in the business of people, it is important we are all able to improve our awareness of and response to mental health. In another session, Mental Health Commissioner Lucy Brogden, outlined the five key areas workplaces need to address:


  • smarter workplace design
  • promoting and facilitating early support and intervention
  • building a positive organisational resilience
  • supporting recovery
  • the awareness of mental illness and reducing stigma


Technological disruption: AutoDesk discussed the severe lack of expenditure on R&D by architecture, engineering and construction firms. 30% of revenue at AutoCAD is spent on R&D, yet the rest of us are averaging 1%. With 65% of primary school students growing up into jobs that don’t exist yet it is important that AEC and creative businesses invest more to protect their businesses in the future.


Economic outlook: Hardy Dale, Chief Economist at the HIA presented insights into the economic outlook. While the global economy is unpredictable in the face of Brexit and Trump, and the tide is turning for the Australian construction industry, there are opportunities. New South Wales and Victoria are all about population growth and will continue to grow for at the least the next 4–5 years. There is a huge amount of government investment in infrastructure. Architecture firms can look forward to an increase in the need for commercial and retail developments as well as entertainment and recreation buildings — there’s a shortage of hotels in Melbourne, for example!


Gender equality: It was pointed out (again) just how unequal the male to female ratio is in engineering, architecture and associated professions. Currently out of all engineering graduates only 16% are female and only 12.4% of the engineering workforce are female. The ratio is better for architects, with 41% of graduates being female, yet only 21% of the workforce is female. On the day there was a significant proportion of businesses believing that this is an issue that needs to be addressed and are actively trying to advance equality across their businesses.


The conference had such a wide range of speakers and topics, overall the event was incredibly insightful and a great way to meet other key players in the industry.

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