MICE industry members from around Australia met at the National Convention Centre in Canberra last Wednesday night to farewell Cindy Young and welcome Stephen Wood as the new manager. Ms Young, who is retiring after 22 years in the industry, passed the baton to Canberra-born Stephen Wood who was with the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre for 13 years, most recently as director of operations.

Ms Young told micenet that her greatest achievement while at the convention centre was its most recent growth and success after its refurbishment, and the foundational role it now plays in the community for business and public events.

“The convention centre in the last five years since refurbishment has gone from strength to strength,” she said.

“We’ve continued to grow every year despite the global financial crisis and government cutbacks, elections and other uncertainties in the market. The convention centre has continued to grow its revenue which has cemented our position in the industry and Stephen can now build on that and take the centre into the next phase.

“Stephen’s only been here a week but he’s already demonstrated a particular perspective that’s born out of his breadth of experience and his involvement in strategic planning. He brings that strategic insight with him to Canberra and this is a really exciting time to have that expertise.”

Mr Wood’s goal in his new position is to capitalise on the strong position the centre has in the city.

“One of the things that attracted me to working here is the mix of business and community. Public events hosted here play an important role in the personality of the city and this is in line with the vision of Canberra being one of the key cities to the country,” he said.

New convention centre?

Also announced last week was a call by the Canberra Business Council to the ACT Government to allocate funding for the City to the Lake Project –  a redevelopment of Parkes Way providing street and pedestrian links between the city and the lake, and potentially construction of a new convention centre.

Beyond the broad planning objectives and the redesign of Parkes Way, the City to the Lake Project proposal incorporates a number of significant infrastructure projects including a huge area of residential, commercial, hotel and retail development, an aquatic centre and a 30,000 seat stadium.

Both Ms Young and Mr Wood were excited about the contribution the major redevelopment would make to the industry and city.

“I think it’s a transformational project for Canberra – it’s a city-making vision,” Ms Young said.

“It incorporates the right mix of business infrastructure development, community amenity and stunning design. And of course we’re delighted that a new convention centre is an integral part of those plans.”

“Stephen will be able to take the convention centre into the next era and the City to the Lake development is all part of that.”

Mr Wood spoke of the great opportunity he had with the convention centre to play a part in the major development.

“It’s wonderful coming into a city where both government and industry shares a vision of strong growth which is supported by the City to the Lake development,” he said.