To mark its 25th anniversary, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre is getting nostalgic with its Club Melbourne ambassadors, as they reflect on their roles as meeting champions for the city.

Up this week is Professor Helen O’Connell AO, Director of Surgery, Epworth Freemasons, who is the Meeting Chair for the Annual Meeting of the International Continence Society set to be held in Melbourne in October. She has been a Club Melbourne Ambassador since 2017.

How has your role as a Club Melbourne Ambassador shaped the way you see Melbourne?

MCEC has introduced me to wonderful people who drive the events that make our city a thriving, innovative, green focused place. It gives me growing insight into the links between conferences, tourism, and music, sport and other big cultural events.  It makes me see we are blessed to have this great heritage but also the need to nurture this human infrastructure.

You are the Meeting Chair for the Annual Meeting of the International Continence Society (ICS) 2021, can you tell us about this and what it means to be involved?

When the MCEC approached me, it was [in] 2013 for a 2021 meeting. Stepping up my networking was my first action, attending all ICS meetings elsewhere and immersing myself in the question of what makes a great meeting.  Via Club Melbourne, I started to mingle with people with a track record of running highly successful events and they were exceptionally generous with their learnings. We gathered a great national Local Organising Committee and started the tough task of winning the bid, which was a hard-fought contest at the end of 2017.  It involved a deep immersion in the organisation of ICS, making great friends and working out how to ensure a great meeting, no matter the obstacles like COVID-19.

What do you hope to see happen in the next 25 years of MCEC?

Evolving sustainable and green physical spaces with staff, systems and technology that inspire Melbournians to gather colleagues and friends to celebrate and grow a vibrant, fun, intelligent, forward thinking world.