To mark its 25th anniversary, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) is getting nostalgic with some of its Club Melbourne ambassadors, as they reflect on their roles as meeting champions for the city.
Up this week is Professor Philip Batterham, from the University of Melbourne, who has been a Club Melbourne Ambassador since the foundation of the program in 2005. Recognised for his excellence in genetics research, he has been involved in several bid wins for Melbourne, including, most recently the Global Ideas Forum, delivered in October 2015 and the International Congress of Genetics, scheduled for delivery in July 2023.
You have been involved in a plethora of events over your time at MCEC, can you tell us about the most memorable?
Each of the events that I have run at the MCEC evoke wonderful memories. My first international meeting, the International Congress of Genetics in 2003, was particularly special because this conference marked the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the structure of DNA and it was the year when the sequencing of the human genome was completed. Among an all-star line-up of hundreds of invited speakers, there were six Nobel Laureates.
The UN Conference on Global Health and the Millennium Development Goals (2010) was particularly satisfying because we had eight months to organise this conference which brought 2500 people to Melbourne to discuss the major health challenges the world faces.
You will be chairing the International Congress of Genetics again in 2023, 20 years on from the Congress in 2003, can you tell us about this and what it means to be involved?
This Congress is rather like the Olympics of Genetics. It is held once every five years in different cities around the world. For Melbourne to be chosen to host the Congress a second time is a tribute to what this city and the MCEC do in creating memorable, landmark events.
Being involved in organising the 2023 Congress is exciting. In 2003 we set a high bar in terms of the experience offered to delegates and engagement with the public. I am confident we can leap over that bar in 2023. I have a background in theatre. I want our organising team to curate an unforgettable experience for Congress delegates and the people of Melbourne.
How has your role as a Club Melbourne Ambassador helped you give back to Melbourne?
Since 2003 I have had the opportunity to promote Melbourne as a destination and the MCEC as an elite venue both in Australia and overseas. I have been able to assist the organisers of many conferences, sharing my experience and contacts.
Without doubt, my best experience was in mentoring students who organised the 2013 World Model United Nations Conference in Melbourne. My experience was probably reassuring to the students and the industry experts that I introduced them to were glad to assist. Having said that, with very limited resources and minimal prior experience, these students organised a conference that brought 2000 students from 80 nations to Melbourne. The buzz at MCEC was incredible!
What do you hope to see happen in the next 25 years of MCEC?
MCEC makes a huge contribution to Melbourne’s reputation as a global centre for research and education, building on our proud cultural heritage. MCEC operates in an extremely competitive global market and brings the biggest conferences and the brightest minds to Melbourne. MCEC succeeds because it is innovative and is committed to outstanding customer service. I hope and expect that this will still be true in 25 years’ time. I want to see Melbourne continue to dominate on the world stage.