Australian Institute of Traffic Planning and Management, is taking another major step as it continues its growth and influence from humble beginnings to a major institute in the field of traffic and transport planning. It has created the position of Chief Executive Officer.
The inaugural CEO of the AITPM is Kirsty Kelly. We chatted to Kirsty soon after the announcement. Here are some of her comments.
Awareness of the AITPM
I've been aware of an AITPM for quite a long time from past collaboration with the Institute through my previous roles at the Planning Institute of Australia. I'm quite familiar with transport planning and I've worked alongside traffic engineers in mine previous lives in local government, state government and consultancy. It's certainly a field that I'm well aware of as transport impacts on the daily decisions in people's lives. This role, as an inaugural CEO, for me is very exciting to be able to work with another other membership based Institute.
It's only been a few days into the role so far but it's exciting.
Who did PIA represent?
The Planning Institute represents a broad range of professionals predominantly involved in planning from traditional urban and regional planners, to environmental planners, social planners and transport planners as well. There's certainly some crossover with the AITPM.
Kirsty knows about volunteering
I came to the CEO role and other roles in the Planning Institute, having been a volunteer myself. I'd been a state president in South Australia, and on the national board as a state representative and also as the “young planner director”. For almost my whole career before working for the Institute I was a volunteer for the Institute.
This means I'm well aware of the volunteer side of working with membership based organisations, but also what's involved in actually managing and leading an organisation to evolve into the future.
Everything's changing in terms of the way people engage with their professional institute. Social media is big. The way that the working world has changed means that associations need to adapt and change what they're doing to serve their members and create that value.
Bringing together different divisions
We worked under the banner of “One PIA” which was really around inspiring everyone to work together and understand the value of being part of a national organisation and the shared value that working together brings.
Some of the things we did were quite practical things in terms of sharing the information and resources and reducing duplication. But it was also around recognising the strengths of volunteers, what it is that they bring to the organisation, where the focus for them is and enabling them.
There were lots of things we were working on together on and social media was part of that. It was also around some of our programs, bringing together content on the website and other communication mechanisms to share what was happening around country.
Recognising and helping AITPM branches around the country
I'm aware, already, that there is some great work happening around the country and the different branches. I’m looking at how that information is shared and how we can really grow the body of knowledge in this area and share their work and the experience. Then to look at the areas that perhaps we can, from an administrative or management perspective within the AITPM, ease the burden on our volunteers and help them to advance in other areas.
Everyone being involved in the process of creating it so that you have a shared vision and you know where you're going. How you actually get there at times will change as things evolve. Certainly we're thinking about technology that's constantly changing and that gives us different ways of achieving what we're seeking to achieve. So keeping an eye on that, but certainly working together towards the same direction is important. In a dispersed organisation where we have members, board members and team members all spread around the country technology is important.
Technology enables us to come together and to communicate in new ways all the time. That's something that we'll be looking at within the organisation, is how we take advantage of those opportunities and connect with each other a lot more.
Social Media can produce a lot of shallow communication?
It's not about quantity, it's about quality. Part of what we'll be looking at is understanding how people use different communication mediums, what it is that they're actually looking for from us and different people at different stages in their career or different parts of the sector, whether they're in government or local government or in consultancy, different types of transport and traffic. What is it that they're looking for from us and how do we serve their needs?
Recognising that everyone comes from a unique position
I think to have a functioning profession, you have people of all different stages in their careers and all different walks of life. And they have different needs. Professionally as well as personally. Keeping them as part of our AITPM family throughout their career, I think is really important. I'm hoping that one of the things that I'll be able to help the organisation look at is how we do that; how we support them at different stages in their career to stay involved with us. At some stage in your career, you look for more from your professional organisation and in other stages in your career, it's actually about giving back. So looking at the opportunities to both support people throughout their career, but also to give them the chance to support others within the field and to give back to the organisation, whether that's through things like mentoring, speaking and engaging as volunteers. Lots of different opportunities. I'm looking forward to learning more about what the organisation is doing with this at the moment, but seeing how we can shape it going forward to engage members in meaningful ways.
Change is not about forgetting the past
It's important to look back and see where we've been and what the issues were before, and how we've addressed them and what we need to do going forward. I think one of the things that I hope to bring to the organisation is not just my experience at the Planning Institute and other organisations I have been involved with, but how to work collaboratively with other associations and institutes across related disciplines to see how we can work together with them to broaden the exposure of our members to a range of information and situations and vice versa. For me, collaboration and sharing is really an important part of being a professional. I'm really looking forward to seeing how I can bring that to the organisation as well.
The political process – If we play how do we play
Transport is a topic that is very topical at all levels of politics. Firstly, it's about understanding what the purpose of this organisation is and understanding where we want to play in the political space. But in terms of engaging politicians, it's really understanding all sides of politics and what's going on. Certainly don't just focus on one, but all the key parties and players and understand what it is that we're seeking to achieve, but also what it is that their “pain points” are and what that what problems they're trying to solve. So it's still quite early days for me and the organisation, understanding what involvement we might have in that and that political area. But it's certainly a topic that is very hot and a matter of working out where they AITPM is best place to engage, if at all, and engage over a period of time.
It isn't just a one-off thing. It's not about just going in and having a meeting a politician and thinking that you'll get an outcome. If it is an area that we we chose to engage with, there is a long-term process and if you want to be effective, you need to engage over quite a long period of time, build the relationships and gain the trust and respect mutually and work together on outcomes you're looking for. One of the ways that we were able to do that effectively at the Planning Institute - they're doing some fantastic work over there at the moment - that process has been going on for a good 15 years of collaborating with other organisations. Working with a coalition of organisations from the built environment to advocate for the outcomes that planners were seeking to achieve. And so if that's the path that we go down with the AITPM, it's something to think about: who would we work with to do that?
I'm excited. It's a great opportunity and a chance to work with the organisation to shape its future. There's been some fantastic foundations already laid. So that gives us something really strong to build upon. You've got a good, strong membership who are engaged. So looking to see how we can grow that membership, and work with our partners and sponsors -we’ve got some strong companies that are loyal, strong supporters of the organisation. I'm looking forward to meeting everyone and taking this forward.