CEO's Report August 2018


Peter Olah



In Adelaide earlier this year, the leadership of SSSI came together for two days to outline a vision and a way forward for SSSI towards 2021. They defined a new Strategic Roadmap for SSSI which encompasses the biggest change program in SSSI history.

It’s an ambitious plan. By 2021, it will position SSSI as one of the best professional membership organisations in Australia. The Strategic Roadmap is online at:

Ambitious, forward-looking, but just another document until it leads to results. This is why the SSSI leadership has since put significant effort towards finalising our Strategic Projects Plan 2018-19. This is the document which takes the big picture and defines how we start to make it real.

It’s where we start building SSSI’s future, but also where our challenges become evident.

A Growing Membership

The only reason for SSSI’s existence is to make our members’ lives, careers and professional relationships, better and more productive.

Delivering better value for our current and future members – being an active partner, working with them in every stage of their professional life, is at the heart of SSSI’s future. This is our number one focus and where most of our effort will go in the coming year.

During 2018-19 we will undertake several projects to commence the complete rebuild of our member services. We will:

  • Research our current and prospective memberships, including those not traditionally viewed as part of the sector                                 
  • Rollout improved member offerings with an initial focus on Young Professionals and Women in Spatial
  • Improve our current membership structure and how it interacts with the certification program
  • Commence targeted trials for a robust and attractive certification program across all streams
  • Deliver targeted programs to maximise young professional membership including better pathways for student membership
  • Publish a national events calendar.         

There is a significant body of work here and some genuine challenges to overcome. And it is just the start of a very big three years of improvement and growth which will positively impact every SSSI member.

By the end of the 2018-19 financial year, these changes will deliver up-to-date data about current, potential and lapsed members; a strong ongoing program to retain and re-attract members; innovative and valued new members offerings for many members with a clear path for improved member offerings across the entire SSSA membership.

We will also deliver more flexible and up-to-date membership and certification structures with an immediate focus on stronger recruitment and retention of student and young members. Vitally, we will be delivering better “whole of career” pathways across the SSSI membership.

Leading Through Advocacy and Communication

Any successful and influential national body, which represents key professions across the Australian economy, must effectively leverage that influence to garner support and recognition for its members. This comes through well structured, productive and consistent communication and advocacy. SSSI recognises that we must do better in this, which is why it is a major focus for the coming year.

Over the coming year we will:

  • Design and launch a new Body of Knowledge initiative
  • Deliver a whole-of-organisation communications plan
  • Deliver a national public policy platform as the basis for all advocacy efforts        
  • Deliver a national advocacy program with a focus on informing and improving the policy directions of Federal and State Governments.

Our targets here are sky-high. We will become one of the very best member organisations for communications and advocacy outcomes.

By the end of this financial year we will have a modern, respected and well utilised Body of Knowledge, with continuous additions and improvements; the highest standards of internal and external communications, focused on serving our members’ needs and informing community and government about their professional value; and a single, up-to-date publication outlining what our members need, what we stand for, and how surveying and spatial sciences can best serve Australia’s needs

Importantly, we will be recognised by key decision makers as the “go to” organisation for leadership and ideas about how surveying and spatial sciences can best serve Australia’s needs.

Productive Partnerships

SSSI doesn’t work in a vacuum. We are part of a huge ecosystem of people and organisations right across the Australian community with a stake in spatial information. Importantly, as the national professional association, we are best placed to bring this ecosystem together for key initiatives in favour of our members, professions, industries and Australia.

To start this process, we will during 2018-19:

  • Rebuild our Sustaining Partnership program to deliver longer term strength and value to all parties           
  • Actively seek out partnering opportunities which deliver member value.

By the end of June 2019, this will deliver a more flexible and attractive program for a wider range of partners across our entire ecosystem; a less transactional, more relationship-based approach for building long term value; and better targeted agreements with well-defined projects delivering value to both parties and their members.

A Viable and Stable SSSI

All of this is impossible if SSSI – the business of the Institute, if you will - is not strong and stable enough to make it happen. Good governance and financial strength may not be top of our members’ wish lists, but without them we cannot deliver the things which are.

In the 2018-19 financial year we will:

  • Review the current governance processes to ensure timely and strategically-focused information for improved decision-making             
  • Start revising our governance and staff structures on a regular basis to ensure relevance and fitness for purpose                             
  • Rationalise our internal policy base
  • Implement a zero-based budget nationally
  • Deliver a best-in-class suite of technical platforms suitable for a technically savvy membership.  

By the end of the financial year, we will have professional, timely and relevant decision making and information at every level of SSSI’s governance and management processes, and a modern staff structure tailored to SSSI’s current needs and capacity.                                                              

We will deliver best practice in all aspects of financial governance, ensuring clarity of our financial position for all SSSI leaders and members. Our systems will be modern, secure, up-to-date and user-friendly, promising a reduced administrative workload for volunteer leaders and staff, and better access for members.

The is a tight and ambitious plan of work, with many change projects happening right now.

This is for the long haul – it is year one of three years of change and growth.

And we must deliver all this change whilst never losing our focus on delivering for our members every day.

To be successful, it will involve all SSSI leaders, committees, commissions and staff, and many SSSI members.

Over the next few months, SSSI President Gaby van Wyk and I will attend meetings of every Region, Commission and Committee to talk about our strategic program of change. We will also conduct webinars on this subject open to all SSSI members. Please come along, ask questions and get involved – together we will make SSSI one of Australia’s best membership organisations.


Peter Olah
Chief Executive Officer
Surveying & Spatial Sciences Institute (SSSI)

Telephone:  +61 7 3371 5059
 Address:  64 Sylvan Road, Toowong, QLD, 4066  |