The continuing growth and maturity of the Gold Coast warms the heart of Griffith Business School graduate and now Tourism Australia’s Managing Director, Mr John O’Sullivan

Mr O’Sullivan, guest of honour at the unveiling of the $38 million new Griffith Business School building at Griffith University’s Gold Coast campus, believes the occasion is another example of the pace of change driving Australia’s sixth largest city and the importance of Griffith University’s role in that process.

Having spent the formative years of his professional career in Brisbane, the Griffith Business School graduate retains fond memories of his time at Griffith.

“In those days the Gold Coast campus was a mere concept. For my degree, we were housed at the Mt Gravatt campus and it was a small and fairly rustic environment,” recalls Mr O’Sullivan.

“Today on the Gold we see an advanced and grand campus, one befitting Griffith University’s growing reputation as a leading tertiary institution and especially in the fields of business, Asian studies and tourism.

“The greatest influence on my university days was a group of lecturers comprising Professor Chris Auld, Professor Trevor Arnold and Professor Graham Cuskelly.

“Each of them in their own way encouraged and at times cajoled us into thinking about tourism, sport and recreation as a viable career.

“In many ways they were ahead of their time. Perhaps my most vivid recollection was Professor Auld shirt-fronting me at the end of a lecture and reminding me of how I was wasting my abilities. It was profound moment, because the next semester I got straight Distinctions and High Distinctions.”

As a Griffith Business School alumnus, Mr O’Sullivan says he is proud to be part of a school that has earned its reputation and never been afraid to challenge the norm through innovation and bold vision. These are qualities he has taken into his own business career.

Upon graduating with a Bachelor of Leisure Management, Mr O’Sullivan entered the corporate world as a project officer at the Queensland Events Corporation.

After working on the 1994 World Masters Games, he headed to London with leading global events consultancy Rushmans and worked on the 1995 Rugby World Cup and the 1996 European Football Championships.

This was the launch of a love affair with the ‘Old Dart’ and he returned there in 2001 to begin three years as the Head of Business Development with global sports and entertainment agency Octagon CSI.

A six-year tenure as Chief Commercial Officer with Football Federation Australia followed, during which time the self-confessed sports enthusiast helped introduce the A-League competition and assumed responsibility for the Socceroos and Westfield Matildas commercial programs.

In 2010, Mr O’Sullivan was appointed CEO of Events Queensland before he headed south to Sydney to take up the role of Chief Operating Officer for Fox Sports.

Taking on the Tourism Australia executive role earlier this year, Mr O’Sullivan will be able to spend plenty of time visiting the Gold Coast as the city and region are pivotal to Australia’s tourism identity.

“The Gold Coast has always been one of Australia’s most popular tourism destinations and, after a few tough years, I think confidence amongst tourism operators on the Gold Coast is starting to return,” he says.

“International visitors numbers are up In the past 12 months and we’re seeing some impressive new hotel developments, upgrades to the city’s theme parks and more tourism investment in the pipeline as the city prepares to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

“At Tourism Australia, we work very closely and collaboratively with Gold Coast Tourism and Gold Coast Airport. Such positive partnerships have been critical in helping to attract new aviation capacity into the Gold Coast, including Scoot, which has opened up new Asian markets.

“Tourism is a viable career for many students at university today, including those coming through the Griffith Business School. It’s a real honour to be invited to play a part in the opening of the new Griffith Business School building.

“These are exciting times for both my old university and the city in which I spent some of the most enjoyable years of my younger days and which undoubtedly played a formative role in how my career has panned out.”