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Leadership done The Geelong Way

As the curtain opened on GMHBA’s Joel Selwood Stand on Saturday 16 March 2024 in front of a crowd of almost 40,000 people, I reflected on what a completed GMHBA Stadium means for Geelong, and what it took to get there.

In the early 2000s, Geelong Cats President, the late Frank Costa AO, his Board and Executive, stared down what may have looked like an insurmountable financial challenge - to re-imagine what Kardinia Park and its Stadium needed to look like for the future, just like the previous generations of Club custodians had done.

In the midst of all that pressure, they did so because a state-of-the-art home of football meant that the AFL would stay in Geelong, businesses across the region would benefit and Cats’ supporters could continue to revel in the Cats’ at home experience. Perhaps most importantly, Frank knew that the Cats and Kardinia Park were Geelong’s heart, and that heart needed to be protected and strengthened. Over twenty years after that journey was commenced, it was finished on a balmy night in March 2024.

This is what leadership done The Geelong Way looks like. It starts with an objective that is not about self-interest, but what is in the Community’s best interests. It stares down insurmountable challenges and finds a way through. It is about understanding that the pain that may be involved in the struggle is temporary but the ultimate objective will be worth the sacrifice. It is not about acting in silos but embracing the strength across the Geelong Community’s relationships.

This column is frequently dedicated to the action that we need to take as a Community for Geelong to live up to its full potential. It should be and it is a great catalyst for ideas and innovative thought. At this time and within Central Geelong, the fulfillment of the Central Geelong Framework Plan, a reimagined Market Square Quarter, a humming Moorabool Street, a transport plan that supports seamless people movement and a global standard Nyaal Banyul Geelong Convention and Event Centre are all atop my priority list.

What I know to be true in my own leadership journey, The Geelong Way, is that as a Community we rise and succeed based on the strengths of our relationships, the maintenance of a pure purpose, the courage of our decision making and the commitment to seeing a job done to the end. The late Frank Costa AO continues to give to Geelong, through the completed GMHBA Stadium, another invaluable lesson in leadership

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