Whilst ISES Melbourne Chapter was officially inaugurated in 1997 and received Chapter status in 2002, the idea of membership to an international events society began with Lech and Klaudia Sobecki through their travels to the US over many years from 1987. Lech and Klaudia made many friends in the events industry in the US and took time to attend the meetings of ISES when over there, encouraged by the representation on the Board of Lena Malouf and Clifford Wallace, both situated in Sydney.
Following the establishment of the “Sydney Chapter” there was a regional conference held in Sydney which encouraged Lech and Klaudia to see the establishment of a Melbourne Chapter as a logical next step. The Chapter Charter required a minimum of 32 members and despite some resistance a group was formed and the first inaugural meeting – chaired by Merri Took, President Elect of the Sydney Chapter – was held at Event Affairs on 29th October 1997.
The foundation members were Lech and Klaudia Sobecki (Event Affairs), Jon Smith (Staging Connections), Michael Milburn (Epicure Catering) and Peter Stafferton (AABCO Hire).
From this point things started to happen and the first meeting of ISES Melbourne took place at Ormond Hall on Wednesday 18th February, 1998. By July 1999 Lech submitted a petition for the ISES Melbourne Chapter Charter and in March 2001 the first official ISES Melbourne Chapter meeting was held at The Boulevard in Studley Park.
Lech became the inaugural President of the Melbourne Chapter and was followed by Michael Milburn who filled the role until 2003. Most of the initial educationals were held at venues managed by Epicure Catering whilst Event Affairs managed the Secretariat.
It has been a long journey from 1987 to today which sees Melbourne membership at well over 100 and due in no small part to the determination of the few who made this happen.
Special mention must be made of those people who worked tirelessly to grow the chapter. Apart from Lech and Klaudia these included Michael Milburn, Jon Smith, Peter Stafferton, Kerry Freer, Mel McLennan, David Israel, Anthony Key and Tim O’Connor.
Melbourne now stands high in the lexicon of chapters around the world having received the international Spirit of Excellence Award for Chapter of the Year in 2002, the Spirit of Excellence Award for Membership Retention presented at the 2006 Eventworld conference in Hawaii and most recently the Spirit of Excellence Award for Recognition of Excellence in Chapter Special Projects 2012, presented at Eventworld, Texas. Melbourne is now enthusiastically lead by current President Gian Blundo and supported by an Executive committed to carrying on the great work of it’s founding members.