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Graham Turner, Group CEO, Flight Centre, 27 August 2014

Graham Turner, Group CEO, Flight Centre addressed a private CEO Boardroom Lunch for 22 senior business executives in an interactive discussion on “The story of Flight Centre”. This lunch was proudly sponsored by Commonwealth Bank and Virgin Australia.

Graham Turner was raised on an apple orchard near the Queensland town of Stanthorpe and later trained as a veterinarian at the University of Queensland.  After graduating from university, he worked as a vet in western Victoria before moving to London. In London, Graham and friend Geoff “Spy” Lomas, both of whom were working as vets, took their first steps into the travel industry in 1973 when they invested the equivalent of $A1300 in an ageing bus and started operating budget double-decker bus trips around Europe, North Africa and Asia.

After an eventful start, that company, Top Deck Travel, grew quickly and its success cemented Graham’s future in the travel industry. Top Deck Travel had grown into a thriving business with some 80 buses by the early 1980s, when he returned to Australia. Graham’s initial involvement with Top Deck ended in the mid 1980s, when he and his colleagues sold the business to management and devoted their full attention to Flight Centre, a business that had less than 30 shops at that time.

As the long serving Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of the public company that grew from the small band of Flight Centre shops, Graham has since presided over a golden era of growth and prosperity for the Flight Centre Travel Group.

The company now has more than 2600 stores and 17000 employees in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, the United States, Hong Kong, China, India, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates. The company’s corporate travel network, FCm Travel Solutions, extends to more than 80 other countries through licensing arrangements with independent local operators. In addition to his involvement with Flight Centre, Graham and his family own a string of prestigious resort properties in Queensland and New South Wales. The resorts operate under the Spicers brand.

His hobbies include mountain biking and marathon running. Graham ran his first marathon in London in 1981 and has completed the race six times, in addition to taking part in other events in Australia and overseas. He is also a keen supporter of the Australian Bush Heritage Fund.

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