“YP Gold Coast sat down with Soheil Abedian, Founder and Executive Chairman of Sunland Group, ahead of his appearance at this year’s City Leaders Forum. Here’s what he had to say.

What do you love about the Gold Coast?

The environment and entrepreneurial spirit.

Do you think the Gold Coast has potential to become a global city? If so, what is holding us back right now?

Yes, but we are held back by a lack of supporting infrastructure.

In your travels, what have you seen done in other cities that you believe could work well on the Gold Coast?

To cut down on bureaucracy.

What is your grand vision for the Gold Coast?

To capitalise on the natural beauty, as well as further strengthen the inherent DNA of tourism and to expand the industry base.

What do you want it to look like in 20 years?

To be a city that offers the future generation diverse employment opportunities that contribute to the growth of the city, and to see less crime.

What is the biggest challenge facing the Gold Coast?

Our brand is perceived as ‘cheap’ with the belief that the city only represents ‘surf, sand and sex’

And do you have a solution?

For the community to work together and bring greater dignity to our city, that will enhance the overall health and wellbeing of the Gold Coast and strengthen the city’s overall prosperity.

What advice would you give today’s young professionals and future leaders of the city?

To find your own strength and try to do everything with the highest level of compassion, integrity and service.

Soheil is just one of the insightful speakers on the panel at this year’s City Leaders Forum.