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    Australian Institute of Architects sacks CEO: a case of revenge of the Big Firms?

    Branko Miletic

    According to a story in the Australian Financial Review, the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) has sacked chief executive Jennifer Cunich, replacing her in the interim by AIA president Clare Cousins.

    As the AFR story notes, the institute's board terminated Cunich's appointment on Friday after what was described as “months of talks”.

    While the AFR says that neither side was prepared to make public comments, Cunich told The Australian Financial Review yesterday, that "change is a very difficult thing to embrace for organisations".

    "I am very proud of what I did. I've secured the finances. We have surpluses, I have implemented a massive digital transformation program worth about $1.4 million," she was quoted as saying.

    For their part, “the Institute thanks Jennifer for her contribution during her two years of service and wishes her well for the future”.

    According the story, Cunich took up the role after the AIA was coming under increasing pressure from members that under previous chief executive David Parken, it had focussed too heavily on smaller practices and was “out of touch” with the needs of the bigger firms.

    At the time of her appointment, Cunich says one of her main tasks was to restore the AIA’s relevance in the eyes of the whole profession, regardless of a firm’s size.

    Cunich says that her aim was to help the organisation redevelop its membership structure and build its advocacy capacity more in-line with other lobby groups such as the Property Council of Australia or Master Builders Australia.

    Cunich is a former executive director of the Property Council of Australia.

    The institute's 2017 annual report put AIA membership for the year to December 2017 at "more than 11,000 members", which was “unchanged from the 2016”, according to the AFR.

    The AIA was also rumoured to be suffering financial problems, in part says, the AFR, due to the development of its own Melbourne CBD building.

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