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Monday May 30, 2011
The consummate professional and a lady of
measured words, it’s hard to marry the fullness
of Linda Staite’s life with the woman in the
Once upon a time she was the deputy director of
Questacon and before that, she was in charge of the
marketing for Monaro Mall – before it became Canberra
“It was a very different CBD back then,” Linda says.
English-born and Canberra-bred, the young Linda
went to North Ainslie Primary, Dickson High and Woden
Valley High – before it became Woden CIT.
“That’s where I met my future husband, Rob, but I
didn’t know it then,” she said.
“He went off and got married, I went off and had a
She went on to attend Arts College in Sydney, but after
the “big trip overseas” spent 15 years doing marketing
for shopping centres.
From Canberra to Darwin, to Brisbane and Sydney
where she scored a national marketing role at head
office for AMP shopping centres, she tripped all over the
country and to centres as far flung as New Zealand.
For eight years she spent a lot of time in aeroplanes
and hotels, living out of a suitcase.
Then Linda reconnected with Rob. Both had fresh
perspectives and something to show for their two very
“We laugh that he’s got three kids and I’ve got lots of
photo albums,” she says.
But it was time to plant her feet on solid ground.
“I’d had eight years travelling and I’d had enough.”
When the question arose whether Rob would join
Linda in Sydney or if she would return to Canberra, the
presence of her family in the latter made the decision
“Plus I hated Sydney,” she says. “I found it very
Linda landed the job as marketing manager for
Questacon and over a decade-long stint she became
deputy director. When the role of CEO for the newly
found Canberra CBD Ltd came up, her experience had
landed her in a prime position to fill it.
for a big change.”
Canberra CBD Ltd had been set up to administer
money raised through a levy on city property owners
as part of the Business Improvement District (BID)
The BID model had been successfully set up all over
the world to tackle the problem of declining city hearts.
Particularly in America and England, where large
shopping centres were developed around the suburbs
luring punters from the hearts of the increasingly
languishing city centres, BID came to the rescue.
“Vandals had taken over, there were derelict buildings
– these city centres were pretty much becoming slums,”
Ms Staite says. “So property owners and businesses
all grouped together and formed these Business
It was an exciting prospect for Linda. In Canberra,
however where Canberra Centre had ensured the city
centre against this undesirable fate, this BID was all
about enhancing the government’s work.
Though still in fledgling stages, Canberra CBD Ltd has
already seen the revamp of the beloved pocket park on
“It was sad looking – the trees were dying, that
ghastly hedge around there was a haven for unsavoury
behaviour, so we had designers design a very nice
Now on the verge of launching a refurbishment for
the Melbourne and Sydney buildings seeded in the
earliest days of Canberra CBD Ltd, and looking at the
completion of a master plan for the public realm in
Braddon – Linda is quietly packing her bags and poised
to retire to her South Coast home overlooking the azure
calm of North Tura Beach.
“I’ve done a lot of travel and I’ve seen a lot of lovely
places around the world but I love that Rob and I and
our German Shepherd can walk along that beach every
day and not see a soul.”
Though unable to contain her excitement, she
concedes she will miss the city.
“I love this place,” she said.
“I love that many years ago, Gus Peter Silka fought the
government to have outdoor cafès in Canberra and now
it’s common place. I love the fact that the city has grown
and I like the atmosphere now – the lights at night and
the flowers by the day.
“But what I’ll miss most is the things that I’ve be
working on – I won’t be able to see into fruition.
“The city is on the brink of so many changes. I
would urge people not to be scared of change and
the opportunities that are presented to the city. They
shouldn’t get stifled by accommodation coming, they
shouldn’t get caught up if the nightclubs make too much
noise... all those sorts of things that will develop as the
city grows into something great.”
Answering the call of her South Coast holiday home, Canberra CBD Ltd former CEO Linda Staite reflects
on an eventful career as she waves goodbye to the city she loves. BY DIONE VAN-HEER
Linda Wraps Up
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