Chamber chief quits, eyes seats on boards

RESIGNED: Outgoing chamber of commerce chief Bernadette Uzelac.

The chief of Geelong Chamber of Commerce has resigned, eyeing “new challenges and opportunities” after acquiring seats on numerous boards during her tenure.

Bernadette Uzelac said she would look to expand on her career as a non-executive director “in particular”.

During her eight years with the chamber Ms Uzelac, who formerly worked in recruitment, was appointed chair of both Geelong Tech School Committee and a state advisory body to the Small Business Minister.

She was also appointed to the boards of five other governmental advisory bodies along with lobby group Committee for Geelong, which includes paid members from the private and public sectors.

The chamber of commerce was now “well-positioned” and the time was right for her to “explore” a career change, Ms Uzelac said this week in a statement announcing her resignation.

“I am honoured to have served as CEO of the Chamber through a period of significant change and growth and I would like to thank president Mark Edmonds and the board of directors for their support to me over the years and for their contribution to the important work of the chamber.”

Mr Edmonds credited Ms Uzelac with creating “the leading and largest regional chamber of commerce in Victoria, and possibly Australia”.

“The hard work undertaken by Bernadette to improve the chamber’s financial position, to seek alternative revenue streams and improve the offer to members has been fantastic,” he said.

“The many members that Bernadette has introduced into the chamber, including our many corporate partners, has ensured that the chamber has continued to grow and our members prosper.

“The Geelong Chamber has nearly 1000 members and every one of them will know and appreciate the work that Bernadette has undertaken on their behalf. Likewise, all levels of government from federal through to state and the Geelong city council have appreciated and respected the advocacy that Bernadette has undertaken on behalf of chamber members and the broader regional business sector.”

Along with her board appointments, Mr Edmonds noted Ms Uzelac’s work attracting federal funding to establish advisory service Small Business Smart Business and on overseeing the acquisition and operation of Geelong Business Excellence Awards.

Mr Edmonds wished Ms Uzelac “every success” after her “dedication and hard work” at the chamber.

The board would immediately begin work on recruiting a new chief executive officer, he said.

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