October 13, 2022 | By Bronwen Largier

Following the resignation of Peter King after 11 years in the role, Natalie O’Brien AM has been appointed the new CEO of Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC).

O’Brien is well seasoned in both the tourism and events sectors, having led the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival for almost 13 years, as well as heading up Ballarat Regional Tourism for two years and founding her own strategic design agency for the tourism, hospitality and events sectors. She has been the CEO of Wine Victoria for the past six months.

O’Brien became a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the 2019 Australia Day Honours for her services to tourism, wine and the Victorian community.

“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,” said O’Brien of her appointment.

“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,” she said.

O’Brien will oversee both MCEC and the new Geelong Convention and Exhibition Centre (GCEC) when it opens in 2026.

Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Trust Chair John Brumby AO said O’Brien had been selected after an extensive global search produced an “outstanding shortlist of candidates”.

“We’re really pleased with Natalie’s appointment as CEO of MCEC. We’ve been lucky to attract an executive with the experience and skill set to lead the organisation in the years ahead. She brings great insight and a tremendous track record of driving change and growth in organisations,” said Brumby.

“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.”

O’Brien will begin her new role on January 9, 2023.

“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,” said Victoria’s minister for tourism, sport and major events Steve Dimopoulos.

Dimopoulos also paid tribute to outgoing CEO King.

“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.”