Philip Whittaker is a sports and entertainment executive who has launched 4 theme parks, 2 golf courses and a major integrated resort. He studied a Bachelor of Hotel Management at Griffith University Gold Coast Campus and then a Master of Business in Marketing at Queensland University of Technology.
What was the highlight of your experience living in Queensland?
I loved experiencing the great outdoors and lifestyle in Queensland being so close to some of the world’s best beaches and rainforests.
How has your experience in Queensland helped you with your career?
I started my career in sports and entertainment marketing where I was involved in the marketing of the Queensland Rugby League/Queensland State of Origin, South Queensland Crushers, Warner Village Theme Parks and went on to take on a senior marketing and commercial role with the 2001 Goodwill Games Brisbane. Following this I started my own marketing agency and many of my past employers became my clients – it was like the circle of life! This gave me a springboard to work internationally where I ended up in Malaysia working as a CMO and CEO Attractions for a subsidiary of Khazanah Nasional (the sovereign wealth fund of Malaysia) where I launched 4 theme parks, 2 golf courses and a major integrated resort.
Did you work or undertake projects with employers or industry groups during your studies? If yes, how did this experience benefit your career?
During my studies I worked in various operational roles for hotel groups and landed my first job after meeting the owner of a leading Australian sports marketing company (based in Brisbane) whose clients included most of the major national sporting bodies at a guest lecture at Griffith University.
Can you share your student journey (why did you decide to study what you studied and why did you decide to study in Queensland)?
I decided to initially study Hotel Management as I had been working in hotels part-time after leaving school and thought the career prospects in hotel management in Queensland were good based on the burgeoning tourism industry in the sunshine state and found that the then Griffith University Gold Coast had an interesting partnership with Sheraton Hotels Asia Pacific, offering real world learning from industry practitioners.
What career-advice would you give to give future students thinking about studying in Queensland?
I would strongly encourage prospective students to consider studying in Queensland due to the great weather and lifestyle it offers and high quality universities including many with innovative, industry-driven degree programs and industry placement opportunities. Further for fields such as hospitality management, creative and digital industries there are a number of emerging job/career opportunities.
What's the easiest way to develop a social-life in Queensland?
Get involved in sports and outdoor activities, join a social club or get out of your comfort zone to meet people at organised on-campus events and activities.
What are you doing now in your career?
I just finished up a role as CEO Attractions for a major leisure group in Malaysia after nearly 10 years and am now doing some consulting and recently due to COVID I pivoted to start a disinfectant and sanitizer company with a focus across the Asia Pacific region.
Why did you decide to follow your chosen career path / become an entrepreneur / or work for an MNC / social enterprise?
I have always enjoyed working with and engaging with people which led me into the hospitality industry and also sales, marketing and creativity which led me into the sports and entertainment industries. I have also enjoyed developing and launching new products and businesses which led into my entrepreneurial journey. I think today, the idea of following just one single career track is not valid. We need to have a broader skill set and the flexibility to move in a number of different areas and directions. To be able to do this you need to establish a strong foundation of training and education and develop your ability to think laterally and problem solve no matter what the company or business you are working for or running yourself.
Can you share any ongoing ties to Queensland?
My mum and dad, sister, uncle and nephews and many of my friends are still living in Queensland and I try to keep in touch as often as I can. I am also working with a leading location based VR entertainment company headquartered on the Sunshine Coast to help them launch in South East Asia.
Anything else you would like to share about your experience studying in Queensland?
Studying in Queensland gave me the best of both worlds. The quality of teaching and real world learning was also very good and some of the best years of my life were studying in Queensland. I really enjoyed the social and outdoors lifestyle and the Queensland laidback attitude, warmth and friendliness.