Bruce Peterson



Bachelor of Secondary Education (Physical Education)


Rusden Campus, Victoria College (now part of Deakin University)

Graduation year


Current position

Founder and Chairman of Grande Experiences


These days, Bruce Peterson is the renowned Founder and Chairman of Grande Experiences, globally recognised for their remarkable suite of multi-sensory immersive experiences. He is known as an innovative thinker, entrepreneur and international business leader.

A Grande success

These qualities didn’t appear overnight. This profile explores Bruce’s unique career journey from secondary PE teacher to pharmaceutical representative, then business owner and art-world disruptor, and shares his philosophies on business, culture and the skills that really matter.

Farm life and early influences

Bruce grew up on his parents’ farm, 10 kilometres outside of Traralgon in regional Victoria. Every weekday, he’d walk to the end of their long driveway to hop on the bus to school.

Life for a teenager in Gippsland was a mix of studying, farm work and hanging out with mates. And sport. Lots, and lots, and lots of sport.

Education was a secondary priority to getting outdoors, playing Australian rules football, cricket, tennis, and connecting with mates.

As he reached the end of his time at high school, Bruce knew he wanted to combine his love of physical exercise with his love of people. 'All I wanted was to be a PE teacher,' he recalls.  

Bruce enrolled to study the Bachelor of Secondary Education (Physical Education) at Victoria College’s Rusden campus, now part of Deakin University. He packed his bags and made the big move to Melbourne.

Never being satisfied

At university, Bruce practised the fundamentals of teaching, developing the skills to educate and motivate students. But it was also an eye-opening social experience: surrounded by like-minded people, he realised the importance of connection through conversation and storytelling.

‘“Soft skills” can be interpreted as optional but they are integral,’ Bruce explains. ‘I’ve told my children, “You must learn how to communicate with people.” They’re crucial skills that can help you take a great idea and bring it to the world.’

The campus culture was vibrant, and Bruce made lifelong friends, mingling with other sports people, Olympic athletes and current and future AFL stars.

This is where he developed one of his guiding philosophies: the need to never be satisfied.

Wherever you looked, someone had done something more or better. There was this attitude that you weren’t special, but you were surrounded by people who were. And this drove me to want to be better and go further all the time.

Bruce Peterson

Bachelor of Secondary Education (Physical Education)

In 1987, Bruce became the first in his family to graduate from university. He started his career at Northcote Boys High School, then moved to Mount Eliza and up the career ladder.

He loved finding ways to help his students to be their best, often using storytelling to inspire and motivate. But the need to continue to develop himself – and his unwillingness to be satisfied – meant he felt the pinch to make a change.

Stitching skills together

Bruce swung his career from teaching to sales, finding work at a Fortune 500 #1 pharmaceutical company. His role involved directly approaching doctors and specialists, selling medicines that helped with cardiovascular health, heart failure and hypertension.

His qualification in physical education meant that he had a strong understanding of the human body.

'Three years of studying physiology helps you understand the importance of health. The course content was physics, chemistry and physiology. The human body is the most complex object there is, and Phys ed teachers understand this,' says Bruce.

The company would typically employ the best and brightest science graduates, but they took a gamble on Bruce because of his communication skills, which were amplified by his time as a teacher. Bruce learned practical sales and marketing skills from the best in the business.

Chasing ‘extraordinary’

After a few years of working in sales, Bruce felt the need to continue to move and improve.

But had no idea where to go next. So, he decided to do what he describes as ‘the best thing [he] ever did’: he resigned and took a gap year.

‘In those 12 months, I realised I wanted to do something extraordinary with my life,’ Bruce explains. ‘And to achieve that, I had to run my own business.’

Bruce launched his first venture: a sales and marketing company that specialised in digital printing, attracting clients like L’Oreal, Westfield, Mercedes and BMW. He sold that business and created a bespoke travel agency, then sold that too and moved into executive leadership.

Business ownership was the perfect excuse to meet interesting people from a huge variety of backgrounds, which kept Bruce engaged and energised – and led to an unexpected opportunity.

Right place, right attitude

A client approached Bruce with a problem: in his role as the CEO of the Australian Multicultural Foundation, he had been asked to run an art exhibition in Australia, which involved importing beautiful replicas of Leonardo da Vinci’s machine inventions.

Bruce had no experience in the art world and had never curated an exhibition. But he said, ‘yep, no worries, leave it with me’, and got to work.

Da Vinci – The Genius opened in Melbourne’s Docklands precinct in 2009 and attracted over 118,000 visitors during its run. It was a massive success, but Bruce saw room for improvement: ‘It didn’t tell the full story of Leonardo da Vinci. It was mostly small models on plinths. The artisans work was brilliant, but the experience could have been more.’

Bruce’s hunch was confirmed when he took his children to visit some of the largest and most prestigious galleries in Europe: the kids couldn’t wait to get outside, because artwork hanging on walls and behind glass didn’t grab their attention.

Bruce had seen this before in his teaching days. One of his key philosophies is to ensure people are engaged and entertained; if you don’t achieve this, your message will be lost.

Everything from Bruce’s career – teaching, sales, entrepreneurship and art – stacked together with his love of storytelling and people when he launched Grande Experiences.

Very few people create what I call a personal business plan: “what do I want to do in life, how do I want to live, and how do I get there?” And it is more relevant now than ever, when you consider the cost of living and the pressure to own a home.

Bruce Peterson

Bachelor of Secondary Education (Physical Education)

Starting the movement

Grande Experiences’ mission is to lead a global, immersive, multisensory arts movement.

To accomplish this, Bruce’s team pioneered an innovative media platform consisting of projectors, audio and media servers they call Sensory4, which allows Grande to create engrossing shared experiences anywhere in the world.

The first experience they developed, Van Gogh Alive, went live in Singapore in 2011. It had all the hallmarks of what Grande is now known for: telling a story with iconic licensed artwork, beautifully rendered and supported by an immersive soundscape.

It was like firing a starting gun.

In the last decade, Grande Experiences has delivered over 255 experiences in more than 180 cities around the world, including translating the material to 33 languages, to audiences in excess of 23 million. Bruce’s original team of three has grown to over 100, and they proudly do everything in-house, covering creative, production, and commercial.

‘We pioneered this approach,’ Bruce explains. ‘We were the first to do it, and we still do it the best, because we hire incredible people and don’t cut corners.’

While they continue to showcase their immersive galleries globally, Grande has put down roots: they have established immersive digital art galleries titled THE LUME in Melbourne and Indianapolis, and the Museo Leonardo da Vinci in Rome to bring to life da Vinci’s machine inventions Bruce first helped to bring to Melbourne.

Patience is another of Bruce’s philosophies. It took two years to create the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artwork experience, Connection; it took 10 years for all the pieces to click together for Dalí Alive, an exploration of selected artwork from Salvador Dalí.

But the wait is always worth it.

‘At the end of the day, we’re raising awareness and helping make art, science and culture accessible for more audiences. That’s a really good thing.’

And one incredible story.

Key advice from Bruce

In order to educate, motivate and drive action, you must engage your audience

‘Teaching, sport and business: It’s all about communication. I use a lot of story telling because they can help to motivate and connect. Because in business, we’re not looking for just contributors – we’re looking for drivers.’

Apply a future lens to what you’re doing and see if you can disrupt it

‘In our case, the original great art of past eras will never change, but the way we display the art to audiences in the future should. We must keep innovating in order to engage the audiences of today.’

Take time to plan for your future

‘Very few people create what I call a personal business plan: “what do I want to do in life, how do I want to live, and how do I get there?” And it is more relevant now than ever, when you consider the cost of living and the pressure to own a home.’

Culture is the most important part of any organisation

‘In business, in sporting teams, in school classes… culture is the biggest metric of success. You need everyone rowing in the same direction. Teaching or year level coordinating in my day, you often spend the vast majority of your time on the misbehaving or underachieving kids, and the better kids get none of your attention, so they don’t reach their potential. In business, we do the opposite: we put the time and attention in to our top employees and amplify their best qualities.’

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