The birthdays keep on coming in the business events sector, with the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre celebrating 20 years in 2016.

BCEC general manager, Bob O’Keeffe, was at the centre when it opened way back in 1995 and is continually surprised at the growth of the venue.

“It’s been a story of phases,” he says.

“The establishment of a new competitive venue in Brisbane and growing up and becoming successful; winning awards, and changing things all the time. One of the big success stories for me has been the constant review and change.

“Everybody who talks to me says it’s a fantastic venue – one of the best designed centres found anywhere in the world. It does everything so well.

“Someone said to me in the early days that a general manager’s role is a lonely job but I’ve never found that here. I’ve been really lucky that we found the really good people and we’ve retained many of them and kept such a great team together over the years.”

He cites hosting the G20 in 2014 as a real highlight of the centre and of his tenure at the helm.

Also close to his heart has been the community engagement the centre has developed, providing help and support to a range of organisations and people including The Salvation Army and Red Cross. The expansion of the centre in January 2012 – BCEC on Grey Street – which delivered 52 per cent more convention space, has been a catalyst for the ongoing growth of the centre.

“We now do three-and-a-half times more business than when we did when we opened. We’ve doubled the number of conventions since opening.

“We’re a little different to Sydney and Melbourne in that our core exhibition business isn’t as large as what they have so we’ve had to look at different areas. Subsequently, we have developed our convention business and our function business which today are very strong.”

Aside from the staff and the continued delivery of high-quality events, Mr O’Keeffe is also proud of the centre’s Convention Advocates Partnership which is composed of an elite group of influencers who count among their members some of Australia’s top scientists, researchers, business leaders and innovators.