Glenn Harvey is really bad at keeping secrets. Best coffee in Bendigo? He’ll tell you. Most picturesque cycling track? Just ask him. City’s quirkiest pocket? That’d be Chancery Lane. It’s here we meet the City of Greater Bendigo’s tourism marketing manager.
It’s been a busy week of spilling the beans for the La Trobe alumnus; he’s been lunching with magazine fashion editors and high-profile bloggers who are in town for the Toni Maticevski exhibition, luring them past the View Street gallery to experience Bendigo’s worst-kept secrets. Yes, the word is out, as a headline in The Age stated, Bendigo is “Victoria’s coolest town”.
“When I first started working in tourism people would get Bendigo confused with Ballarat all the time and that doesn’t happen anymore,” Glenn says. “Ten years ago we were the underdog. We had nothing to lose, so we took bold risks and it’s paid off. We re-positioned Bendigo from a gold-led destination to a heritage, culture and arts destination. We celebrate the past in a modern way, rather than trying to re-create it.”
Glenn has been with the tourism department for 11 years, working his way up from co-ordinating the annual dining and shopping guide, to marketing ‘brand Bendigo’. Before that he held positions in the IT and video production industry. And before that, he studied in Bendigo.
Glenn grew up in Seymour, on the banks of the Goulburn River. He completed VCE at Seymour Technical High School, got good marks and planned to attend university in Melbourne.
His parents encouraged him to apply for a scholarship with La Trobe’s Bendigo campus, and he was successful. He says it wasn’t a hard decision to by-pass the city lights for the regional campus, as he had strong family ties with the goldfields.
“My mum’s family were from Bendigo,” he says. “They came here from Cornwall during the gold rush. I’d grown up coming here to visit my grandparents and go to the Bendigo East Fair, so I already had a great affinity with this place.”
Glenn completed a Bachelor of Business, majoring in marketing, in 1999. In his last year of studies he signed up to be part of a focus group, testing leading websites for an IT company. He made some good contacts, which led to a summer job on the marketing team of an energy company, and then to his first full time-job with Cambridge Technology Partners, an international company with 50 offices around the world, including Melbourne.
“That job came about simply through putting myself out there and doing some focus groups,” he says. “I did that because I wanted to finish my degree with some experience on my CV – other than KFC.”
Every new employee was flown to the company’s Boston headquarters for induction, and so Glenn got his first taste of travel as a 21-year-old graduate. It was to become a theme of his career.
He worked for the IT giant for a few years before moving back to Bendigo to take up a job with Video Education Australasia; one of the world’s leading producers of educational DVDs at that time.
“My role was to find new markets for our programs and lots of those markets were international,” Glenn says. “I was building relationships with customers all over the world. The highlight was travelling to the French Rivera to sell programs at the Cannes TV Festival. From little Bendigo I was helping sell programs to the BBC.”
Bendigo would continue to deliver for Glenn when he took up the role of tourism industry liaison and partnerships officer. “I remember it was a very long title,” he laughs. “Apart from the travel aspect, the thing that attracted me to tourism was that I could see Bendigo was changing, and having that background of my family being here, I wanted to make a contribution to the city and be a part of that change.
“I’m someone who has come from La Trobe, who has been able to build a career here and market internationally. Being part of the city’s growth has been a privilege.” (He’s also brought international experience to the city; in 2009 Glenn took a 12-month break from the job to work for Lonely Planet in London.)
Back to Bendigo’s growth… it’s been good for everyone; businesses have benefited, citizens take great pride in the city, and students have endless opportunities to get involved.
Glenn says if he was studying now, he’d be volunteering for the string of festivals and events in Bendigo. They’re growing so fast, they’re crying out for professional help from students. Particularly in the field of social media.
But technology, big events and blockbuster exhibitions aside, when we ask Glenn his top pick for local experiences, it’s something we can all enjoy, for free, 365 nights a year.
“That walk along Pall Mall and through Rosalind Park when the city is all lit up at night; you could be anywhere in Europe and it’s just magic.”
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