bike path and autumn leaves

The Team

Amber Gardner - Chief Executive Officer

 

Amber has worked in tourism for over a decade. She currently heads Tourism North East, the regional tourism organisation charged with developing the long-term strategic vision for tourism in the High Country, North East Victoria. Prior to that she worked as the Director of Marketing, Sales & Business Development at Mt Buller, the most popular alpine resort in the State, along with a range of senior marketing positions in both Australia and the UK. As such, she is experienced at developing innovative ways to drive visitation and yield opportunities across diverse product portfolios, and driving collaboration between government, industry and community/interest groups.

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Matt White – Marketing Manager

 

Matt brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to TNE having recently returned to Australia from the US where he most worked as the Vice President of Client Services at global marketing agency GMR in San Francisco. He’s held a range of positions in the cycling industry, including Head of Marketing and Business Operations for cycling retailer/importer Above Category Cycling, and Director at Rubber Side Down Cycling, which means he’s well positioned to drive growth in the region’s cycle tourism markets. He worked at the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet and also as a ski instructor and instructor examiner at Hotham and Buller, so has a great understanding of the landscapes in which TNE operates.

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Gina Bladon - Strategic Projects Manager

 

Gina “saw the light” and moved to the High Country from Melbourne in 1997 to take on the role of Marketing Communications Manager and later Group Brand Manager at Brown Brothers, having previously worked in brand management for leading supermarket brands. She established her own tourism business, 1860 Luxury Accommodation, and for several years also owned her own retail business.

Gina originally joined the TNE in 2011 and has worked in several roles including Industry Development Manager and Marketing Manager. Gina current role is Strategic Projects Manager working across a range of special projects, particularly those associated with key cycle tourism developments and arts and cultural heritage projects.

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Dean Cleave Smith - Digital Manager


Dean joined TNE after moving to the region in 2010. Dean’s role is focused around building visitor facing digital / online capability so the High Country is optimally positioned to service those visitors that seek online information across all phases of the visitor journey.

Dean’s career prior to TNE spanned senior leadership and management roles in Australia and Europe largely focused around technology enabled organisational transformation.

 

Digital mentoring | The Regional Digital Project | Search engine marketing | Search engine optimisation | Digital trends

Tourism North East - Dean Cleave-Smith

Louise Friend - Digital Ninja

 

Louise returned to home her homeland of Victoria's North East in early 2015, from the bright city lights of Sydney, where she worked with reputable PR & Communications agencies Liquid Ideas and Klick Communications.

Prior to taking on the role as TNE's Digital Ninja, Louise’s career highlights are far reaching, from working across major communications campaigns for local wine, beer and food brands, to handpicking grapes in Champagne.

Being a Ninja, Louise is reluctant to share all of her trade secrets, but can reveal her strengths to be content creation, copywriting, design, CMS management, social media and community management.

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James Callander - Content Manager


After dreaming about moving to the country for years James finally made it happen in 2016 when he moved to Wandiligong and shortly after started working at TNE.

James brings a wealth of relevant experience to the team, having worked in the online and international marketing teams at Tourism Victoria, and also in the transition team setting up Visit Victoria.

When he's not skiing, rock climbing or trail running around the High Country, James maintains content across all digital assets managed by TNE, as well as in-depth support for the Enjoy Benalla and Mansfield Mt Buller websites.

 

Sue Couttie - Public Relations Manager

 

Sue Couttie is a writer and publicity specialist whose breadth of high-level publicity campaign, media liaison and writing experience covers work in tourism, newspapers, in-house publications, television and major events across a diverse range of organisations.

Since making a tree-change to North East Victoria she has freelanced primarily in the areas of tourism and the arts. She has written several official visitor guides for key regional destinations and developed a number of seasonal guides to festivals and events and extensive other marketing collateral.

She has managed publicity campaigns for a number of major cultural events including the Melbourne International Arts Festival, Melbourne Writers’ Festival, Tasmania’s statewide arts festival, Ten Days on the Island as well as the four-year Sydney 2000 Olympic Arts Festivals program.

Publicity | media opportunities

 

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Sarah Pilgrim - Industry Development Manager - Food, Wine and Craft Beer

 

Sarah fell into tourism as a student in Melbourne. After completing a degree in Psychology she started work in Human Resource development with major international hotel chains. This lead to 15 years of travel through Europe, The Middle East and Africa. Returning to Australia 7 years ago and seeking a “tree change” she bought the lease of The Victoria Hotel Rutherglen. After 7 years of redecorating and repositioning the hotel, Sarah joins the TNE team eager to direct her passion towards growing the food and wine industry in the North East.

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Jade  Miles - Industry and Product Development Specialist

 

Jade has lived in the High Country for 17 years, spending ten years living and working at Mount Hotham and Dinner Plain before moving back to the valley to establish her own marketing and business development consultancy. While her career has focused on alpine marketing and tourism, Jade has also delved headlong into life as a retailer as well as a food and wine operator, establishing and running businesses in Vanuatu, Beechworth and Cambodia.

Jade joined the TNE team in October 2011 as the Industry Development Manager for Nature before also taking on the Cycle and Alpine portfolios which she carried until June 2016. Her current role is Industry and Product Development Specialist and she works across all six pillars that TNE supports.

 

Nature based tourism | events | community tourism planning | business mentoring

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Eddie Wilson - Industry and Product Development Manager - Cycle, Snow and Nature

 

Eddie Wilson has been appointed as the new Industry & Product Development Manager, working across the product pillars of Cycle Tourism, Nature-based Tourism and Snow in a full-time capacity. Eddie brings the ideal combination of government, tourism and industry experience to the role, having worked for organisations like Buller Ski Lifts, the Alpine Resorts Coordinating Council and the City of Melbourne Business and Tourism Branch. Added to that, he’s an avid skier, cyclist and adventurer, so is passionate about driving positive tourism outcomes across these product categories for the High Country. Eddie will join the team on 1 August 2016, so will meet with TNE’s industry partners soon after that.

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Julie Bent – Administration Coordinator

 

Julie joins TNE on 17 July, bringing to the role more than 20 years’ experience across a range of sectors. She is currently working as the Administration Manager for Home Support Services in South Australia, so will soon be making the move over to the High Country to join the team in Beechworth.

Helen Rose - Finance

 

Helen holds a Bachelor of Business, is a member of Governance Institute of Australia, and the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers. In a career spanning more than 30 years, Helen brings the experience of having managed 4 and 5 star hotels, restaurants, retail, and government outlets.  Establishing her own business in 2002, Helen provides contract administration, distribution, board management, financial and company secretarial services to a variety of clients, both large and small, in a diverse range of industries and operating structures.

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