What’s so good about the Melbourne Tourism Industry Leadership Program?

Life changing. That’s the best way to summarise my Melbourne Tourism Industry Leadership Program (MTILP) experience.

By the end of 2014 I had been working in my dream job for quite a few years but I was torn. As much as I loved my job, a lengthy and somewhat torturous restructure process was taking its toll (perhaps a little more than I had realised) and at the same time I felt like my career had started to become stagnant.

I was frustrated, fatigued, emotionally drained, unclear about my long term career direction and starting to wonder what my next dream job might look like. I knew something needed to change and I was ready to explore and embrace new ideas and opportunities.

On 9 December 2014 I found out I’d been accepted into MTILP for 2015. It could not have happened at a better time. It sounded like a great opportunity and was something to look forward to for the year ahead. Little did I know just how impacting MTILP would be.

Initially I didn’t know much about MTILP other than it was not ‘leadership 101’ and it would give me an opportunity to learn, grow and explore who I am as a leader and how I could potentially further my career longer term.

Curious to learn more about what I was getting myself into, I spoke to a couple people who had previously completed MTILP. They all spoke very highly of MTILP and said I was in for an incredible year but articulating what to expect seemed to be somewhat of a challenge. I soon discovered none of the previous ‘MTILPers’ could describe what MTILP actually was in a clear and succinct way. My anticipation was growing but despite my best efforts to find out more about it, my expectations were still quite vague.

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The before shot – MTILP class of 2015. That’s me on the far left.

Finally the first day arrived. We started a 2 day residential workshop at the Bowls Club in Flagstaff Gardens. Anxious but full of anticipation, 20 new MTILPers including myself embarked on an epic journey of discovery.

I started day one hopeful that by the end of MTILP I was going to get answers to some very serious questions in my mind. What is my next dream job? How do I thrive as an introvert in an extroverted tourism industry? How can I be a positive influence on my organisation? How can I be a better leader? What do I actually want from my career?

It didn’t take long to work out I was really going to enjoy MTILP. One of the first things I remember our facilitator and trainer Mel Neil saying was not to expect pointless group activities masquerading as content. Fantastic. Great start. I can’t stand time wasting workshop activities. From there things kicked into gear very quickly and I soon discovered that MTILP is meaty… very meaty. In fact it’s so meaty that it’s quite a lot to take in.

After the first day I had so much information percolating in my head that I was still awake at about 3am that night trying to process it all. Thankfully MTILP is spread out over a year. There’s no way I could have taken it in all at once.

The content presented is well tested and researched science based leadership principles and tools. It is deep, insightful and sometimes quite confronting on a personal level. MTILP is definitely not ‘leadership 101’ and it is not a series of untested leadership theories, opinions or trends.

One of the great highlights of MTILP is the series of inspirational high caliber guest speakers who share their own personal leadership insights and stories. We heard from people such as former Victorian Police Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon and ARIA award winning singer/songwriter Clare Bowditch as well as key tourism industry figures and leaders. Presenting to such an intimate group allows each speaker to bring something different and leave you with unique personal perspective and stories that you wouldn’t usually hear.

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One of my post MTILP workshop moments of reflection.

It’s been more than a year since I graduated from the program and I’m still amazed at how many times I reference and use what I have learnt. I got so much more out of MTILP than I ever anticipated.

I can honestly say that MTILP has changed me.

I now have a new tool box full of practical and effective leadership tools that have helped me become more effective in my job and also my family life.

I’ve found a new confidence like I have never had before. I have a clear understanding of who I am, my values, how my values influence the way I respond to situations, what energises or de-energises me and even how to handle conflict more effectively.

I have increased my influence and ability to lead in my current role within my organisation and more broadly in the wider tourism industry.

I now have answers to the questions I had on that first day. The answers weren’t even necessarily part of the content but the MTILP experience includes the light bulbs that illuminated the answers. I have a clear idea of the direction I want to take my career which has enabled me to make decisions to progress my long term career and has influenced how I approach my current role.

I have a much deeper understanding of the tourism industry through exposure to my fellow MTILPers and the many challenging discussions we shared plus doors have opened to a number of new tourism networking opportunities.

I gained an instant network of tourism colleagues who shared my MTILP experience and one of the biggest things I didn’t expect was they’ve also become close friends.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. (MTILP pun intended)

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One of our MTILP workshops was at Eureka Skydeck.

I understand now why MTILPers find it difficult to articulate what MTILP actually is. I now share their struggle. It’s like trying to explain what an apple tastes like to someone who has never eaten an apple before.

I’m going to give it a shot though… here goes…

MTILP is a tourism flavoured journey of self discovery that empowers you with a bag of leadership tools and inspirational experiences designed to help you be your best self and to influence a stronger, more effective organisation and tourism industry.    

…and that’s not even close to doing it justice.

MTILP really is incredible. I can not recommend MTILP enough and I would strongly encourage anyone involved in the tourism industry in Victoria, Australia to seriously consider applying. It’s absolutely worth the sacrifice and commitment required and it truly is a life changing experience.

Details for MTILP are on Destination Melbourne’s website here: Melbourne Tourism Industry Leadership Program

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