President's Corner: Damian Tang


Damian Tang

Role of our professional organisation – Problem Solving 


Have you ever questioned whether the role of our professional organisation is merely giving membership and providing relevant information to members just to keep them updated of our profession?  

Like business entities, national associations need to understand the changes and disruptions in consumer (members) behaviour; the thinking that underpins different members demographic and the demand that drives members’ engagement. Once we understood this, it is easy to focus on the limited resources we must manage and organise activities in terms of priorities.  

So, the key boils down to this question, “What problems can your national association solve for the members today?”  

Here is a list of possible problems, some of which are past problems that we may have addressed (unknowingly for some) when we first started.  

  • Lack of projects recognition  

  • Lack of engagement with the profession  

  • Lack of mentors to develop the young  

  • Lack of awareness and knowledge of good projects  

  • Lack of engagement with public authorities  

  • Lack of understanding by a certain profession  

  • Lack of awareness on needed skill sets in the climate crisis.  

  • How can corporate members interact more with other entities?  

  • How can landscape firms profile themselves better to prospects?  

The list goes on. Each question may lead to more problems and challenges. Have it crystallised so you can truly address the problem. 

Think from corporate members level to individual members level, so that the offerings are more diverse and encompass wider audience and across the value chain. We must also think on demographic level as the audience varies from the young to the near retired. We could also think from the external entities’ perspectives looking to engage with our profession. And are there problems they may have? 

Once you identify the problems, organise your strategies, actions, and resources to have that resolved and communicate to the members. Obtain feedback on how it went and how you can improve.  

For emerging association, your questions may investigate the basic problems of the members. For more mature associations with better resources, your questions may be more advanced and anticipate future trends. Whatever state you are, you would be sure that the membership will grow because they see the values in joining the association and solving a part of their professional problem.  



Damian Tang
President of IFLA Asia Pacific Region (2016-2020)
President of Singapore Institute of Landscape Architects (2009-2015)

Chief Sustainability Officer, Uniseal Global Pte Ltd