The City Leaders Forum is a joint initiative between Griffith University and YP Gold Coast showcasing the people in our city, who are driving innovation and change within the business community.

City Leaders: Bob East taking the city to the next level

28 October 2016

Bob East is arguably one of the most influential business leaders on the Gold Coast, standing at the helm of one of the city’s largest companies and leading a team of more than 6000.

The CEO joined ASX-listed Mantra Group in 2006, and under his leadership, the business has grown from 41 properties to more than 120 properties in 2015. East also led the company to a successful ASX listing in June 2014 which culminated in its inclusion into the ASX200 list in 2015 – its first year as a public company.

Most recently, Mantra Group reported an annual profit of $37.1 million while the company's underlying EBITDAI (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation and impairments) was pushed 23 per cent higher in the past financial year to $89.8 million.

While the business has seen success in recent years, East says the next five years present wonderful opportunities for both the business and the city.

East, who is also Chair of Tourism and Events Queensland, says the Gold Coast is expected to have a ‘tremendous boom’ in the next five years, driven by a couple of factors. 

“We have the Commonwealth Games and the legacy contribution of that with the infrastructure build and the works that are going on around that is obvious for everyone in this community,” he says.

“Secondly, we have a good deal of foreign investment entering the marketplace and that is also driving some domestic investment as well because we have that international demand coming in.

“I think we have this wonderful opportunity to take the city to the next level.  It does somewhat rely on sustainable economic GDP growth nationwide but we can, to a point, perform better and outperform the overall market given these opportunities that are on our doorstep.

“That is what makes the next five years so exciting.”

East is set to impart his wisdom at the second annual City Leaders Forum event on November 11.  A big part of the debate will focus on the diversification of the Gold Coast economy; a topic East is passionate about.

“The Gold Coast will always be popular with tourists and that is something we should be immensely proud of; that delivers a lot of benefit to the broader Gold Coast community, be it through jobs growth or economic contribution,” he says.  “That is absolutely fundamentally important for this destination.”

“But singularly that is probably not enough.  We need to become a diversified city; we need to have those other industries and particularly those emerging industries to get a foothold into this community and to succeed.”

Mantra Group currently has more than 20,000 rooms under management for owners in properties across Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia.

Mantra Group has a team of around 6000 who work in operations, sales marketing and distribution, portfolio and asset management, information technology and corporate activities.

East says the Gold Coast is an ideal location to run a thriving business.

“The key feature for the Gold Coast is it is very liveable; that is what attracts people to our destination as visitors and holidaymakers but it also works incredibly well when looking to build a business here,” he says.

“It does have those lifestyle elements and if you overlay that with a burgeoning and emerging corporate sector, it really does make it an ideal place to locate your business.”

East will join a panel of speakers at the City Leaders Forum event including Peta Fielding (CEO of Burleigh Brewing), Ian O’Connor (Vice Chancellor of Griffith University), Mark Peters (CEO of the Commonwealth Games Corporation) and Marion Charlton (Chief Operating Officer of the Gold Coast Airport).

Hosted by Young Professionals Gold Coast, the event aims to unite the Gold Coast’s established business community with up and coming city leaders.