Those of us who know Canberra well, know that it’s a city unlike no other in Australia. Some of what makes the capital a glorious spot is right before our very eyes—like our national icons, natural beauty and festivals. But there is so much more beneath the surface to discover, as the likes of Jenifer Dwyer Slee know full well. By Wendy Johnson
You see, Jenifer is the Director of Sales and Marketing at the National Convention Centre, working for the InterContinental Hotels Group. One of her big passions is positioning Canberra as a ‘go-to’ destination in the highly competitive conference industry. Jenifer’s passion for what Australia offers in the industry has led her to be honoured with a Lifetime Award from the Professional Conference Organisers Association, for ‘Support, Encouragement and Mentoring to the Business Events Sector in Australia’.
“I love Canberra,” says Jenifer. “I really do.”
It’s a big statement when you consider that Jenifer has lived in or near some pretty special spots while working for more than 26 years in the luxury hotel market, including at Lilianfels Blue Mountains Resort and Spa, Sheraton Noosa and in starry-eyed Sydney. After an exciting career in hotels, Jenifer made one of those massive decisions to take a major turn. She moved to the world of convention centres, which brought her to Canberra.
Jenifer is one of only eight Australians, and the only Canberran, to receive this Lifetime Award, in part for her majestic efforts in positioning this country to be a winner in the industry.
Barry Neame, President of the Professional Conference Organisers Association, who presented Jenifer with the award in Adelaide at the association’s eight annual conference on 30 November, sums it up this way: “Jenifer truly cares about bringing business to Australia and to Canberra and has been open and generous in sharing her knowledge in how the hotel sector operates with association members, to help with their professional development and upskilling. This includes helping young people entering the industry acquire quality skills and quickly. Jenifer has always been open to being a mentor and it’s strengthened the industry as a whole.”
Jenifer’s efforts not only benefit IHG and the National Convention Centre, they boost the local economy and generate economic wealth for many in business here, with visitors touring about and indulging in our food scene, local arts and design movement and events and activities.
“It’s good for everyone when we score a major conference,” says Jenifer. “We work hard at it but have a high success rate in winning conferences and events once decision makers have experienced the benefits of coming to Canberra for themselves.” With the growth in tourism in the coming years, the dedication of Canberrans like Jenifer is sure to stimulate even more to visit the capital and surrounds.
“I agree with what The New York Times wrote about us,” says Jenifer. “We have big-sky beauty, breezy civic pride and a decidedly hipster underbelly. Combine that with our vibrancy and developed world-class professionalism and you’ve got the perfect destination.”
Images by Martin Ollman