Margate’s Natassia Wheeler joined the committee of Regional Development Australia Moreton Bay in August, drawn back to the area from the Whitsundays by its burgeoning business and lifestyle opportunities.
She was recently voted on to the Queensland Tourism Industry Council board and is looking forward to representing the state’s tourism industry and advocating for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
Having been on the RDA committee for the Whitsundays, Natassia says she knew the difference the organisation could make to local communities.
“We left the Whitsundays a year ago and made our way back (to the Moreton Bay Region),” she says.
“I saw the position advertised and wanted to contribute to the community.
“It’s been really great to join RDA Moreton Bay and understand some of the opportunities and challenges.
“It’s all about looking at different strategic opportunities across the region and how we can add value.”
Natassia says RDA Moreton Bay is unusual, because it is one of only three in the state that cover just one local government area.
“Most RDAs cover more than one local government area and you have competing agendas - I like how it’s so focussed here,” she says.
She says there are many opportunities – ranging from grants to professional development workshops – that small businesses are unaware of and RDA is keen to spread the word.
“We’re really engaging with the community and making sure they’re aware of the different upskilling opportunities and grants available to help them grow.
“We’re working with different levels of government, supporting different initiatives that are important to people across the region.”
About Natassia Wheeler
From 2013, Natassia worked with Tourism Whitsundays in various roles, ranging from marketing executive to chief executive officer.
But the mum of three says it was always the family’s intention to return to the state’s south.
“We’ve only just recently relocated back to Moreton Bay – we went to the Whitsundays for my work and it was meant to be a 12-month stint,” she laughs.
“We always said we’d come back because we wanted the children to do high school here.
“We love this place, we love the lifestyle and our son’s in Year 7 next year.”
Natassia has her own business, Tash Wheeler Consulting, which helps businesses with a range of services such as marketing, travel trade engagement, public relations and media, events, tourism development, operations, planning and business development.
She also works for Shiift, which specialises in business coaching, team cohesion programs and identifying how teams can best work together.
“It’s all about people and leadership and creating happier teams that work harder and have people who stay longer,” Natassia says.
“Our founder was in a business that grew from nothing to 250 people in six months.
“She left the business and did a degree in psychology to understand what she did wrong and how she could do it better - it’s about investing in your team and they invest with you.”
Her time in the Whitsundays gave Natassia a unique appreciation of the challenges facing the tourism industry.
“Hospitality and tourism businesses have to make a lot go a lot further than anybody would understand,” she says.
“They often have high staff turnover.
“I saw first-hand how building your team really helped the bottom line – we had a very engaged workforce.
“At the end of the day (staff) turnover costs money.”
In her leisure time, Natassia’s enjoying making the most of the region, particularly close to home on the Redcliffe peninsula.
“I spend weekends riding my pushbike with my husband and children – my husband has roller-skates.
“We’re at Margate and we go to Clontarf, eating at great restaurants and having barbecues.
“We’re very partial to Mamma’s Italian and the eggs bene at Butcher Baker Coffee Maker, then there’s Tempest, the (Scarborough Harbour) Brewery, Morgans, the Belvedere and The Komo,” Natassia laughs, declining to name a favourite.
“We’re very lucky to live where we live.
“We’re in amazing proximity to everything around us, but it’s a different vibe – you don’t have the hustle and bustle you get in cities around the world, but the vibe is really great, it’s very diverse and it’s just got beautiful people.”
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