The Hon. John Brumby AO, Chair of the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Trust, has today announced the appointment of Natalie O’Brien AM as Chief Executive of the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC). She joins the business in January 2023 and brings a wealth of leadership experience in the tourism and events industry. She is a former CEO of Food and Wine Victoria, producers of Australia’s internationally acclaimed Melbourne Food & Wine Festival.

Most recently Natalie O’Brien has managed her own strategy consultancy, while operating as a CEO for Wine Victoria, and previously interim CEO for Ballarat Regional Tourism, where she led the co-design of Visitor Economy Recovery Plans. She was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in the 2019 Australia Day Honours list for significant service to tourism, food, and the community of Victoria.

As CEO of MCEC Natalie O’Brien will be responsible for the overall management, business plan delivery and future strategic direction of MCEC and the operational planning for the new Geelong Convention and Exhibition Centre (GCEC). She will step into the role following the departure of outgoing CEO, Peter King, who finishes with the business at the end of the year. This follows a remarkable 11 years in which he has made a lasting impact on just MCEC, but to the wider visitor economy. Natalie O’Brien joins MCEC at a crucial time as the organisation recovers from the impact of Covid-19 and builds for the future. The Centre has reopened to a strong demand for business in 2022 and her experience will play a key role in continuing to guide the business back to its pre-pandemic levels of success in the coming years.

Minister for Tourism, Sport & Major Events, The Hon. Steve Dimopoulos, said:

“Recognised for her contributions to Victoria’s tourism and major events sector, Natalie brings exceptional leadership and experience to Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, ensuring the organisation continues to draw the events and exhibitions that support businesses and create jobs.

“I thank Peter for his hard work and service across 11 years at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, under his leadership the venue has played an essential role in drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors to Victoria.”

Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Trust Chair, The Hon. John Brumby AO said:

“We’re really pleased with Natalie’s appointment as CEO of MCEC. We’ve been lucky to attract an executive with the experience and skillset to lead the organisation in the years ahead. She brings great insight and a tremendous track record of driving change and growth in organisations. Natalie will bring a wealth of senior experience to the role and will provide the vision and leadership MCEC needs as we continue to recover and grow in a challenging business events environment post-Covid.

“I’d like to congratulate Natalie on her appointment and look forward to working with her and MCEC’s senior management team on further developing our world class venue. Natalie was chosen after an extensive global recruitment and executive search process throughout Australia and internationally that produced an outstanding shortlist of candidates. The quality of the field is testament to the very high regard that the Centre is held in throughout the world.”

Speaking about her appointment to the role Natalie O’Brien AM said:

“I’m excited to lead an already iconic Melbourne landmark into the next phase of growth, as the organisation’s enormous impact and benefit continues to expand across Victoria. I can’t wait to work with the incredible team at MCEC, empowering them to continue to achieve their very best and contribute to the experience of all visitors to, and residents of, this vibrant and diverse state.

“I’m especially looking forward to building strong relationships with our customers, our people, the community we serve, and key government and industry stakeholders, while also fostering new partnerships and business outcomes in an increasingly competitive market.”

Natalie O’Brien AM will commence in her new role as CEO of MCEC from 9 January 2023.