He will replace long-standing CEO Brian Morris, who will step down after 14 years in the role.
Mr Harnden was chief executive of the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games Corporation and cricket’s 2015 World Cup hosted by Australia and New Zealand.
“I am thrilled to be joining the team at the Trust and look forward to working with everyone in the precinct to continue the success of this world-famous sporting, cultural and entertainment icon,” Mr Harnden said.
He is currently chair of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation and will remain in that position until a replacement is appointed.
The Australian Open is locked in at Melbourne Park until at least 2036 and Mr Morris has overseen a $972 million upgrade at the precinct to ensure it remains a world-leading sport and entertainment destination.
Highlights include the addition of Margaret Court Arena and the National Tennis Centre, as well as a major refurbishment of Rod Laver Arena. The precinct hosts a wide range of major events, none bigger than the Australian Open which attracted nearly 800,000 spectators over two weeks in January.
Mr Harnden will oversee the Victorian Government’s $271 million third stage of the Melbourne Park redevelopment, which is under way.
Works include construction of a new function and media centre, a multi-purpose sunken show court and a central logistics hub.