Everyone In Urban Development Should Read This Keynote Address


Urbis National Director and QUT Adjunct Professor of Design James Tuma delivered a valuable keynote address to Queensland University of Technology graduates this week, highlighting the importance of combining ambition, hunger, passion, ideas, and crucially, empathy, to spark real-world creativity and deliver innovative and thoughtful urban design.

He spoke of his start in property, digital disruption, and how creative industries professionals will shape the world and lay foundations of deep meaning for future generations.
Keynote address from James Tuma

Queensland University of Technology Creative Industries Graduation Ceremony, July 27 2016
"Congratulations to those graduating today. It is a great honour to be asked to give this address and I very much hope to be able to offer some insights that have meaning to you as you seek to advance your careers and make your mark on the world.

"Looking back at my journey - and ahead to what I would like to achieve - some words from an early mentor ring loudly. She said “Start as you mean to go on

”. To me this means imagining an ambitious future state for yourselves, whatever that may be, and to act and engage with the world as though you have already become that person. This goes against traditional views of slow and well planned journeys to success – it suggests that you already have the intrinsic tools required to achieve whatever it is you want. Certainly new skills will be learnt and passions will change, but in my experience, the world is hungry for you and your ideas right now. Imagine a brilliant future and wake up tomorrow as that person.

"You are a diverse group of creative people, and in this diversity lies your strength - your ability to make your chosen fields of endeavour, and the world, better than you find it

. The creative industries are, in my opinion, the future of the next great cycle of change in the world. It is a change that will be defined by a level of human activity and proximity never before seen and its success is critically dependent on creativity to deliver it in a compelling and equitable way.

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Urbis national director James Tuma

"Disruption to almost every profession and pursuit is rife, destabilising long held norms, and forcing us to be better, faster, and more agile. In this context of tension and uncertainty - which does have a degree of intrinsic excitement - it is all of you

who are able to drive positive change by coming together into a collaborative whole, disrupting yourselves by finding the common and fertile ground that lies between the arts, technology and design. I encourage you to maintain your networks and to actively seek to work together to innovate in existing markets and to create new ones. Working together in creative ways on creative pursuits is the future of our shared culture.

"The value of your future creative efforts has never been higher. Use delight and optimism to win over those who would seek to rationally measure your contribution. Deliver clarity, joy and beauty to the world and use these as the benchmarks of success and the foundation of measuring your true value – know that you have much to add to making the future, and be sure that you are rewarded for it.

"From my perspective there are two pillars to the creative process. One is the idea of Systems

and the other Empathy.

“Systems” relate to the process of creating new things and “Empathy” is the way in which those things have meaning

to society. We are all highly trained in various “Systems” - ways to execute outcomes, methodologies, research, concepts and rehearsals – the list goes on. However, true creative success is borne out of applying the human dimension or ‘Empathy’ to those “Systems”. This is the way in which creativity becomes meaningful and how the creative industries can affect enduring change. I would encourage you all to pursue you passions tirelessly, always remembering to understand the human context in which they exist.

"So, congratulations again to you all. I wish you all the best and look forward to marvelling at your achievements as individuals and as a collective group of creative people in the future – Make big plans,

remembering to start as you mean to go on, to collaborate as a powerful creative cohort, to know your great value, and to act with empathy as you create our future."

  • Adjunct Professor of Design, QUT
  • Registered Landscape Architect, AILA
  • Masters of Built Environment, QUT
  • Graduate Diploma of Urban Design, QUT
  • Bachelor of Built Environment – Landscape Architecture, QUT

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