Docasa Café | Melbourne, Australia
“It’s all about the ambience, that’s what makes a good workplace for us.“
“Have you had a good look at the wall tiles?” asks Warren. (Well, yes, they’re beautiful and in pristine condition in this café of only nine months.) “Could have been a tiler like my father – did the apprenticeship.”
“Anyway, I ended up in the corporate world and when I retired I got together with my Italian son-in-law and together we created our café. It was 90% him and 10% me, but we were 50/50 on how we wanted to feel about it. It’s all about the ambience – that’s what makes a good workplace for us. That, plus good coffee, amazing food and great staff!
I spend quite a bit of my 45-minute drive to work pondering what the day will bring – whether our new venture will be busy – and also planning the co-ordination of our front and back of house staff– harmony is key! The return 45-minute trip I spend reflecting on the day that’s been and thanking our lucky stars – yet again – that the best advertising we could possibly have had is free and is right outside our door: the traffic light intersection that forces people to stop and stare at us. Position, position, position! Buon appetito!”
Journal Canteen | Melbourne, Australia
“Food is a magnet for bringing people together and this kitchen is chock-full of food stories and traditions.”
“It’s an old cliché, but it’s true: I learned to cook at my grandmother’s knee”, says Anthony in a rare moment away from his bustling kitchen. “Ever since I can remember I’ve had an appreciation of food and as a young teenager decided to be a chef. I learned very quickly that while you didn’t have to know everything, passion and a strong work ethic were vital. You had to be willing to learn and to train yourself to be a reliable employee!”
At Canteen, Anthony proudly admits that his cuisine is closely based on what his Italian “nonna” used to make. “Simple, regional Italian food is what we’re about.” “We do a brisk lunch trade and so fresh food produced in a timely manner is key. I love it when a particular group of Italian businessmen come in. You know they’ve enjoyed the meal when they make the Italian “Ottimo!” (“Excellent!) sign to me. It takes me back to my roots and re-affirms why I love this job.”
“The management and ownership of the restaurant are another reason I enjoy my work so much. They’ve created an inviting and homey environment that brings out the creative best in my co-workers and myself. However, if there was one thing they could do that would make my job easier I’d probably just say that it can be a little too informal at times and that a bit more training in some roles wouldn’t go astray.”
It’s interesting that Anthony’s Italian kitchen boasts a melting pot of sous-chefs from around the globe. “There’s no doubt food is a magnet for bringing people together and this kitchen is chock-full food stories and traditions.”
Suzette and Priest fashion | Dandenong
Suzette Perera and Cohen Williams
“We’re getting a taste of the fashion industry right now and working on the design career in time.”
We really are ships in the night! blurts Cohen. We met six years and three months ago (but who’s counting…) as sailors on the same ship and are still at sea for our main jobs, but these days we work on different boats and literally do pass each other day and night across Bass Straight!
“Suzette and Priest fashion is our second job”, says Suzette.” I came to Australia 13 years ago from Sri Lanka and I’ve admired and bought from this shop just about forever. When the owner retired, I jumped at the chance to take it over! (…and she has – shop, stock and prospects). Cohen and I gutted the shop and re-fitted it out so it has a whole new look now. Most of our customers love it and their feedback is awesome but there are still a few die-hards from the old days who are finding it a bit tough getting used to the change – but they still buy from us! For me, our fashion look is pitched just right – style at a reasonable price.
“What I love about it”, says Cohen, is that being in fashion design and retail is so different to our everyday seafaring lives (…I did notice the absence of nautical designs) and we get to interact with a different kind of customer for a change.” I actually came up with the name of Suzette and Priest. It’s going to be our fashion design label. We’re getting a taste of the fashion industry right now and working on the design career in time. The Priest bit of the name is Hebrew for Cohen, so I’m in there too. (…together – at last – on dry land)
Sheep and broad acre farmer | Bogan Gate, NSW
“One constant is the close sense of community, and we farmers work as a team.”
Mark must be an earth sign. He came back to the land after a successful career as a pilot to fulfil his destiny as a third generation farmer. ”What living on the land gives me that I didn’t get in the air is variety. No two days are the same here: whether it’s crop trials, animal husbandry or marketing and promotion, there’s never a dull moment. If you asked me what I love most about my work it would be making a contribution to society by producing food and looking after the environment.”
“And if you think diplomacy is reserved for career diplomats, think again. Out here it can be a tricky path to tiptoe around alternate political persuasions and the interests of large multi-nationals– you have to adapt.”
“But one constant is the close sense of community, and we farmers work as a team. A classic example was when my father passed away during a harvest season. Within 48 hours our neighbours turned up to finish the harvest for us so that we could deal with the funeral and our grief.”
Farm etiquette is preserved where possible and Mark reserves any swearing to the working dogs and the sheep. “Not that we want to upset our sheep, especially as we prepare them for market. Their final 72 hours are sacrosanct if we want to guarantee top quality meat” (Bring on the massage and essential oils…)
“One of our three daughters is showing an interest in the farm – even though it’s early days yet. Old habits die hard in the country and we’re told it’s a bit of bad luck that we don’t have a son to carry on the farm. But my wife, Fiona, has the final word on that – “you don’t need a d*** to run a farm.” (Enough said.)
Les Arts Florissants | Paris, France
“The French say – ‘en accord’’ – to be in agreement with oneself, Balanced, and I am ‘en accord’.”
When an Aussie ex-pat who’s lived in Paris for 20 years invites you to meet her at “… a little place I know along the Seine”…you know to get yourself there “tout suite.” Such was Jacqui’s invitation to talk to mwah. and we arrived to find a party on a barge moored in a bend of the river, in full summer swing.
“I arrived in Paris 20 years ago to work on my Master’s degree in music. I had very little practical French language and so I exchanged English lessons with a French girl. It was she who one day found a tiny ad for a production assistant job with Les Arts Florissants. I had heard Les Arts Florissants perform in Australia years before. I had an amazing reaction to that concert – and loved how they made music communicate. Music touches people so deeply and it did so for me. I never dreamed for one moment that I would end up with them.”
“I got the job and was lucky to evolve within the company and move up. It’s been 18 years now, the last five years in my current role. You’ve got to be passionate about what you do to get into a job like this – the whole group is passionate. Les Arts Florissants is like a family. We look out for one another and share core values.”
“I was Casting Director for a long time, assembling freelance musicians from all around the world for a particular repertoire. When it comes to transferring those core values to such an assembly everything is in the service of the music and it’s contagious. Culture and passion is our shared currency.”
“One of my prime motivators,” says Jacqui “is still the faces of the audience and how touched they are – and to hear the music – and to know that yes, I’m part of this because of what I can contribute.”
“I’m well aware that I work in a rarefied, absolutely amazing milieu of gilt and gold, of music, of spectacle and of opera houses. One way for me to live this ephemeral life – a life that provides me with so much cultural nourishment – is to keep in touch with the real world. My decision to sponsor a child in India and to choose to come up against everyday problems of schooling and health and questions of mere survival came out of being drawn to the need for the balance of all that.” “The French have a word for it – ‘en accord’’ – to be in agreement with oneself. Balanced. And I am ‘en accord’.”
Practice Manager | Brunswick Chiropractic, Brunswick
“It can be manic some days – but I love it!”
Sandra has been Practice Manager at the clinic for seven years but her “body of work” extends way beyond creating order out of chaos. “It’s true, I do a bit of everything here – and it can be manic some days – but I love it.” “I kind of fell into this job though. I was looking for something else to do alongside my work as a personal trainer and I just walked in here one day to say Hi. The chiropractor was having a particularly overwhelming day that day and he pretty much hired me on the spot! I did have to learn about practice management on the job but I was already very comfortable with people and a focus on the body. I could speak the language.”
“I see myself as a link between the practice and the community – everyone knows me. And while that makes for a very people friendly clinic, it seems I’ve also taken on the role of confidante for some clients. I guess if you’re comfortable talking about your body then you’re also comfortable sharing other personal stuff. So far, there’s nothing that’s been so shocking I couldn’t handle it but nothing connects you faster with someone than sharing intimate details!”
“I know I’m appreciated here and that makes work so worthwhile. For me, it’s the whole package: great hours, friendly atmosphere and no strict rules. I like to keep things flexible… (and obviously so does her boss.)
Florist | Pollon Flowers, Melbourne
“Our close team is like a family and that’s what makes a great workplace for me.”
So, what’s more important in a flower – the look or the scent? “It depends”, according to Gary as he characterises blooms as another might describe people. ”The tuberose? Smells sublime but can look raggedy over time. The freesia? Inconspicuous and destined for a corner but its scent is so irresistible it can’t help being noticed!”
Getting so up close and personal with his charges is just a part of Gary’s obsession with nature in all its forms and he’s woven himself into his career the same way he weaves the perfect stem into a blooming bouquet. “Working with flowers is something I’ve wanted to do since I was fifteen when I bought and gave flowers for the first time.” “The reaction to them was so heartfelt that I’ve spent the rest of my life re-creating that moment. Every new customer takes me back to that fateful day!”
Gary has been in the industry for 15 years – here and in the UK – and with Pollon for only the last six months. “Our close team is like a family (can we say, ‘genus familia’), and that’s what makes a great workplace for me. That, and the neo-gothic aesthetics of the adjacent cathedral – it sets off the flowers so beautifully.”
It’s hard to imagine any friction in this line of work, but Gary confides he prefers flowers to people. “With flowers, you can bend them to your will far more easily and they don’t answer back!” “Awkward moments do occur when last minute orders for a “quick $50 bouquet” rush through the door.” Rolling his eyes, Gary explains that there’s no such thing if you want to do justice to the bouquet. So how does he deal with that? “It’s easy really – I simply tell them how long it will take and from there, they can literally take it or leaf it.” Oh, Gary…
Pollon Flowers, Melbourne
Incanto Coffee Shop | Sydney, NSW
Su, Amy & Evan
“This kind of business is frenetic, to avoid getting stressed out, you really need to be in sync with one another.”
Looking for a daily challenge? Try this. Be on deck – I mean actually be awake, be able to converse, be genuinely happy to be there and be firing on all cylinders – by 6:30am. A couple of bubbly, super smiley Korean ladies – Su and Amy – have taken up this challenge and are running the very friendly coffee mecca, Incanto Coffee Shop, in downtown Sydney.
It stands to reason that Su has stamped her personality on the coffee shop after 9 years at the helm. “I love it that some of my regular customers have been coming here as long as I’ve been here and of course it’s great to know them (and their order) by name,” she says.
But it’s a testament to Su’s ability to foster great teamwork that Amy – who’s only been here a year – and she are great team mates and good friends outside work too. “This kind of business is frenetic”, says Su. “We are open every day including the extra busy days over Easter and Christmas. To avoid getting stressed out you really need to have fun, work efficiently and to be in sync with one another. Amy and I really get along very well.”
Amy’s appreciating all the valuable hospitality experience she’s getting, plus making a good friend. “I’ve really learned so much from Su and the bonus is that we get along so well that during time off we love doing the same things together – restaurants, shopping and talking about men!!!” During this type of conversation Evan, who tells us his English is only slowly improving, knows well enough play the strong silent type.
“It’s the school of life here,” says Su. “And I believe we’ve just about heard and seen everything over the years.” “People ask for money and say all kinds of outrageous things but by now we can tell who’s genuine and who isn’t. Like one day when a gentle man who looked very hungry and kind was sad, so we brought him inside and gave him something to eat and drink, whilst some of our customers hugged him” Su said.
Where do the two women see themselves in 10 years? “I’ll still be managing this coffee shop or another, or running a business”, said Su. Amy interjects, “And Su will be married!! And I will be in a coffee shop opposite Su in competition!!” (And chances are they’ll still be talking about restaurants, shopping and men.)
Multicultural and Community Banking | Sydney, NSW
“I enjoy making a tangible difference to people’s lives.”
Malini is the vital hub between a bottom up and top down approach to promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace. “I do have a brief, but it’s who I am anyway, so to say that I’m working on (Malini puts on her corporate face) ‘improving authentic and meaningful engagement with communities at grass level and forming key strategic partnerships at a corporate and government level’ is second nature to me.” “My day job is my passion – diversity and inclusion.”
“You know, people are slowly coming to realise the true benefit of inclusion in the workplace. It’s not enough to pay lip service to gender and cultural diversity. Having the numbers serves no purpose unless you also include their points of view in the conversation. It’s the only way towards better thought leadership, better decision making and better risk mitigation.”
“I was paid an unexpected compliment recently by a group of Muslim women employees who had felt they weren’t being supported or included in the workplace – in short, they could not bring their whole selves to work. In consultation with them I had managed the introduction of a hijab corporate uniform. Their compliment to me was a thank you for listening.” “I really didn’t think I’d done much, but I could see then that it often doesn’t take much for people to feel valued.”
“My first job ever was at McDonalds – I was 14 years and 9 months old. However, my first “real” job was in investment banking. The upside of that was trips to New York…the down side was regularly working until 3:00am. Now, I have a better balance and enjoy making a tangible difference to people’s lives (…a theme also adopted in Malini’s private life through her leadership and active support of several charitable organisations…)
“Looking back, the best advice I could ever give a younger me is take more risks and make sure you do something you’re passionate about. And don’t be afraid of mistakes! You need them to help figure out what you don’t like or how you don’t want to be!”
Heavy Vehicle Mechanic, The Tractor Shop | Glossodia NSW
“I’d really like to advance opportunities for women, to help as many people as I can. That would be great.”
Volunteer | World’ s Greatest Shave | Melbourne 3000
“I am having fun.”
Service Centre Manager | Cairns, QLD
“Don’t let anyone dismiss you because of your youth.”
“In Romania, where I was born, our culture really looks up to and respects our elders. So there’s no way I would EVER have felt entitled to tell anyone older than myself what to do!” (…fast forward a few years – after her family’s immigration to Australia – and at only 18 years old Lacri was appointed the first female supervisor at a leading ASX listed, global Supply Chain/Logistics business) “What I’ve learned is don’t let anyone dismiss you because of your youth.”
“I’ve been with the business for six years now and I’ve gone from being their first female supervisor to their first female site leader. Being a woman in a male-oriented workplace can have its awkward moments”, Lacri admits. “Once, I was running a toolbox talk for employee buy-in to trial the washing of gloves.” “So here I was, standing in front of 30 men, trying to convince them to wash their gloves in order to kill fungus and ‘organisms.’ But I said ‘orgasms’ instead!” (…traps for young players, when English is their second language).
“But then, on the flip side, being a woman can make it safer for men to express their feelings.” “When I left my old worksite to take a promotion to my current job, my biggest problem worker gave me a gift card to say thank you for everything. He said I’d really made a positive impact and that he was thankful for my support. It felt special because you don’t always know what impact you have on people’s lives.”
“I’d say I definitely have different interests from my male team”, Lacri confesses. (…her own go-to topics revolve around family.) “I’m not interested in sports and so I do struggle sometimes to integrate with the guys. But I make sure I read the back page of the paper to see who won what, so that at least I can casually drop that into conversation!” “Even when it’s not the morning after a big game I still spend the first hour on the floor talking to the guys so I can understand first hand what’s going on.”
“One of the things I definitely strive for in the workplace is respect.” “In a leadership position you don’t have to be best friends with your team but you do have to challenge yourself and help build each other.”
“I’ve always wanted to do something I enjoy that has an impact – work has to mean something.” (…money has never been Lacri’s driver.) “What motivates me is being valued.”
“I work to make memories, rather than to accumulate stuff”, she muses. “I want to afford to be able to tick off my personal bucket list, to have a family, to travel.”
(Oh, and while on the topic of bucket lists, Lacri has one or two workplace items that need to be ticked off too.) “Top of my list would be for my company to understand that when I’m working in a remote location, everyone I work with reports directly to me. So please, please, reduce the chain of command and stop the double handling!” (…fair enough too – Lacri does work for a logistics company after all.)
Architect and Access Consultant | FS Architects | Sydney Access Consultants | Sydney
“Disability access to brothels is an expanding niche.”
“We are an aging population and it is inevitable that at some point we will all become unstable underfoot”, says Gary. (…a sobering thought and a great leveller…) “So, our entire built environment should be accessible, regardless of ability”, he says. Gary’s including all of us here: the able, the disabled, the very tall, the very small, our indigenous communities, our oldest members of the community and our very youngest. “People just don’t talk enough about this stuff”, he says.
As an architect in his own practice since 1993, and now specialising in access to our built environment, Gary is at the forefront of this movement that started a mere twenty years ago to cater for people in wheelchairs. “Now, what we’re doing is promoting participation in everyday life for people living with any disadvantage,” he says.
Gary looks at the existing built environment through an unwavering filter for re-purposing. His philosophy is clear: accessibility is a pre-requisite for social inclusion, equal opportunity and diversity. “For instance, if you’re a person who has a cognitive difficulty, it’s vital that you provide a clearly distinguishable entry to a home.” “And, if you’re in a wheelchair, of course you’re going to need a wider door.”
Gary loves his work and is motivated by projects that have a social conscience. “I’d work for nothing really – and have done so before!” A young wheelchair client of mine, Jake, wrote to thank me, telling me how much his modified home gave him a whole new sense of independence. That was gold – and that’s why I do what I do.”
“Culture, too, plays a role in access,” says Gary. “In indigenous communities, young kids are independent early. They don’t want to hang around mum’s legs: they’ve got a bold interest to get in amongst it and so they’ll venture into the local street and play from house to house. So, these houses need verandas on them facing the street so family members can sit and watch these little kids on their adventures, to keep them safe.”
“And it’s not just housing design that needs a rev up,” Gary reminds us. “I was once asked to audit a community running track for accessibility for people with a disability and for the elderly. I discovered that the track was heavily used between 5 and 6 am – it’s still dark at that time and yet there was no lighting!” he shrugs. “These accessibility fixes are pretty intuitive once you start looking for them.”
Gary’s quest for improved accessibility is definitely wide-ranging. “I’m becoming quite the expert in premises that “provide services”, he winks. “Improving access to brothels for clients with disabilities is an expanding niche.” “For a start, you’ve got to make it safe for wheelchairs to access the laneways where many of them are located and you’ve got to widen those doors so they can actually get in.” “Then, my proposition comes as a real mind shift for these businesses: it’s to have one big room on the ground floor complete with a hoist and a swing to accommodate both disability and the elderly (…not necessarily at the same time…) that can double up as a group room!” “They’re seeing the possibilities of those props as a whole new fantasy world for the rest of their able-bodied clients!” (…talk about reverse equal opportunity!…)
Owner, Migo’s Industrie | Melbourne
“If you enjoy it like I do, every day is an opportunity to offer your customers something from the heart”.
Still at the helm at 73 years old, Migo is a testament to what passion for your work can do for its longevity. “I’ve been in hospitality since 1968, ever since arriving from Lebanon to Australia and what was true then is still true today – you have to have the ‘palate’ for this kind of work – you have to feel it. Qualifications alone are no passport.” From a culturally rich background, Migo learned on the job through his family’s businesses and today still holds a symbiotic relationship with his older brother, Raphael, 80, who until very recently cooked up a storm in the kitchen of this hole in the wall cafe. “We have an incredible working instinct. For me, listening out for Raff plating up a meal is like a mother listening out for her baby’s cry.”
“Sure, it can be challenging work – the hours are long and you’re brushing up against people from all walks of life – but if you enjoy it like I do every day is an opportunity to offer your customers something from the heart. For me that’s an honour.”
“It’s funny, but after all these years in this business I’d say the best compliment I’ve ever received happened only a few months ago. A couple who dine here regularly popped in again and, as usual, the woman ordered the seafood pasta. At the end of the meal her husband came up to me and told me they share everything in life (and he emphasised “everything”) but there’s only one thing she won’t share…and that was my seafood pasta!”
Click here to read more about Migo’s Industrie.
Store Manager, Aesop | Melbourne
“They told me they selected me because I’m a good communicator and a genuine person – like everyone at Aesop. I felt right at home!”
IT Consultant | SMS Management & Technology |Melbourne
“I’m a very social person, and I really enjoy collaborating.”
Henna Tattooist, Christalignment, Henna & Destiny Readings | Dandenong Market
“It’s amazing how transformative a tattoo can be – I’ve had people tell me it’s changed their lives.”
Owner of Sultan’ s Handcrafts | Dandenong
“We all know each other and help each other out.”
Massage therapist and Soigneur, Orica Scott Professional Cycling Team | Melbourne Australia
This is Danny Clarke…. (Standing, not on a bike)
“If you’re having a bad day you’ve got to step back and look at the big picture to remind yourself why you’re there.”
Customer Service Officer | Public Transport | Victoria
“We look after each other and share the odd joke.”
Sculptor and Floor Manager | Meridian Sculpture | Fitzroy
“The greatest compliment a client could pay me would be that they couldn’t distinguish my work from that of his “master” casters.”
Receptionist | Jellis Craig Real Estate | Brunswick
“I reckon I can handle just about anything in this business – I just love real estate.”
Intern at mwah. | Sydney, Australia
“I’m proud to call myself a feminist…”
Norman J Salon | Sydney
“This has to be the #1 job in society– but you’ve got to love people.”
Dental Nurse | Dental Group, Brunswick
“It was an awkward moment but at the same time very caring. One of my clients brought me in a box of chocolates to say thank you. Now, chocolate and dentistry are not what you’d call a natural fit but I couldn’t refuse. Her gesture was well – meant – plus I love chocolate!!”
Intern at TOGA Property Group | Australia
“I want my sisters to have the opportunities in life they didn’t have as a birth right…”
That it was ok to bring his sense of humour to work was something that caught Keaan by surprise when he started his professional internship with the TOGA Group. “At the start, I was trying so hard to be professional that I ended up cutting myself off a bit from my work mates. But it didn’t take me long to let my natural personality come through and I found that the best work place is one where you can be yourself and make friends with your co-workers.”
“I had been working with CareerTrackers since first year Uni on how to conduct myself in the corporate world. As they do with all indigenous students who are new to university and have no corporate experience, they provided me with skills, guidance and a kind of mentorship that helped me ease myself into the workforce.”
“I worked 1-2 week job rotations as part of my 13-month internship with TOGA, both in head office as well as at their hotels, and I’ve got to say that my favourite job in the hotels was the one that allowed me to interact one-on-one with people – and that was portering. To be able to quickly establish familiar and relaxed relationships was something I excelled at,” he recalls proudly. “It took me back to my first job actually – a lawn-mowing business when I was 14 – when how much work I got pretty much came down to how I managed my own personal brand, even though at that time I didn’t know that’s what it was called!” he laughs.
“For me, being myself at work means being proud of my indigenous culture. One of the most touching things I experienced during my internship with TOGA came about in the lead up to Australia Day that year,” Keaan discloses. “One of the senior managers came up to me, put his hand on my shoulder and said that he understood that the event wasn’t a day of celebration for me and that he wanted to acknowledge that. I thought that was such an honest and amazing demonstration of leadership and I was really touched by it,” he reflected.
“When I think about that 13 months with TOGA, my motivation at work was to break glass ceilings. My younger sisters look up to me and I wanted to push hard and far so that they wouldn’t feel held back when they had their turn in corporate life. Oh, and the other thing I’m passing onto my sisters is that it’s OK to be worse than someone else at something but that you have to take the opportunity to learn and improve – but definitely have fun while you’re doing it!”
Account Manager, DEC PR | Sydney
“I guess, for me, passion bubbles over into what you do and you just want to put it out there.”
In the multi-dimensional world of PR, not only do its doyens have a high need to know…they also have a high need to show and tell! “It wasn’t always like that for me”, says Tammi. “I was actually a bit reserved at school!”
Tammi Ireland’s job as an Account Manager across both consumer and corporate clients means she can rock a mean acronym. “FMCG?” Fast Moving Consumer Goods (of course, why didn’t I think of that??) Listening to Tammi reel off what and who she’s responsible for in this highly competitive space, there is no hint of the self-confessed, shy school girl. “I guess, for me, passion bubbles over into what you do and you just want to put it out there. Working with DEC and with communication in general has really helped me come out of my shell.” (Out of her shell? Tammi has been with DEC PR five years now and is as comfortable working up tactical PR relations as she is taking a client to lunch!)
Tammi studied journalism but admits it was a toss-up for her between working as a journo or plunging into PR. “I just love to write and a bit of hot copy goes a long way with me…a journo gig came up first, so I took it.” “But if I had to give my younger self some advice I’d probably say that the journalism degree was superfluous. I’d happily exchange those three years’ study for three more years of on the job training and internship. You can’t get to the coalface fast enough!”
“I adore my job and my team. It’s a really supportive workplace that prides itself on not running its people into the ground. If we occasionally find there is some “overcapacity” then the whole team pitches in. In a pretty thankless industry, this company stands out by being very thankful for the work we do.”
Clinical Myotherapist | Ivanhoe
“That they place their trust in me is something I’m really proud of.”
“Fair to say I was gutted when I didn’t get to be a pilot.” (Very tall, even seated, it’s clear that to be a pilot Jason would need to have the roof perpetually open. A real OH&S downer…) Still, growing up in the 80’s, there were other options. It was the decade of pharmaceutical research, and because chemistry always excited me I thought of science instead.” (OK… yes… but still no banana.) “In the end, what it really came down to was that I just wanted to use my hands.” Enter, myotherapy.
Early on, I worked in pre-natal. Talking to pregnant woman about…err…”birth canals” and breast-feeding was as far from my own life experience as I could get! I’m sure I was too reserved at the start, thinking that’s how a professional should act. If I could give my younger self some advice it would be that working as a professional doesn’t mean leaving 80% of your personality at the door. It’s OK to be yourself.
My clients tell me I have honest eyes, and that’s such a complement. That they place their trust in me is something I’m really proud of – that, and the fact that I can offer them a safe landing.” Waddyaknow? I think the pilot got his gig.
Spray painter | L&M Smash Repairs, Seven Hills
“For me, this work is the most natural thing in the world.”
I read somewhere that the Greek name, “Anastasi” was associated with resurrection. A never more apt surname then for pocket rocket, Lara Anastasi – who re-sprays beaten up cars back to life.
“I’m coming up to my first anniversary here at L&M. No-one really makes a fuss of these things but you might get a ribbing from the guys with something like, “Oh really? You’ve lasted that long have ya?” “Actually, I’ve lasted 12 years as a spray painter (says a winking Lara) but this shop’s my favourite. I get so much satisfaction from my work. It comes down to being able to put your heart and your soul into it and not be a slave to throughput!” “My boss makes sure we have the best paint system available – and top quality paint allows us to do our best work.”
“Sure, I still stand out as the only female on the shop floor, but I’ve shown the men I can handle the work. It doesn’t stop them from asking from time to time if I need a hand with anything. But I see that as being gentlemanly rather than chauvinistic.”
“For me, this work is the most natural thing in the world. As a kid I hung around my pop in his shed, working with all kinds of tools. He kept trying to send me back up to the kitchen – but it never stuck.” “I remember one day on the job here when an owner came in to collect his WRX, Lara said. “The girl painted that!” came a shout out from my supervisor. The look of horror on the owner’s face forced him to follow up with …”Nah, I painted it mate.” (A lie…so much for breaking barriers.)
(I ask Lara two very important questions – what’s her favourite car colour and what’s her favourite car?)
“I’ve gotta say black – but it has to be GLOSS black. (She’s actually just resprayed her own – black – Holden V8.)
Lara aspires to own a Maserati – “A gorgeous car that just wraps around me and fits me like a glove” (kinda like it was sprayed on?)
Organic grocer | First Harvest Organics, Melbourne
“I started work at 16. My first job was butchering chickens. While I wouldn’t say that job necessarily turned me into the vegan I am today, let’s just say that feathers and wrinkly feet do nothing for me now.”
Fast forward nine productive years. “I’ve done a lot of research into food, health and physical training and I’d probably put my shift to veganism and my leap into owning my own organic business down to all of that.
I’m a gymnast and I also practise Brazilian jujitsu, and what I love about my job is the feedback I get from customers who are also focused on their own health and training. It’s great to swap ideas and experience. For me, the social side of things and having friendly customers beats the money any day. Oh, and the social side of things also extends to my great staff. Well, we’re in this together and we’re good to each other. Birthdays and house parties are huge!!! “
Ice cream artiste | Fairy Hills Gourmet Ice cream
“I’m pretty much surrounded by joy.”
I’ve worked in ice-cream for 17 years… (and boy am I….”insert punchline here”…). But seriously, (wait, how can you be serious AND make ice-cream??) I did a stint in the police force before leaving to follow my brothers into the ice cream business. (puts a new slant on “Freeze!” …), but this has been my own venture for the past four years. Did I tell you I’m highly competitive by nature? I’m self-taught and have honed my skills through personal experience – put it this way, I don’t hold back when it comes to experimenting with new flavour combo’s – and anyway, my kids have a vested interested in the failures!
I owe a lot to my customers too – they give me some of my best ideas – they inspire me! My favourite at the moment is my “ode to the Amalfi coast” – lemon, honey & rosemary. And I use the rosemary from my own backyard! Then there’s lime & ginger: I originally created it on commission from a local Thai restaurant and it’s become a fave here at the ice creamery. In my world I’m pretty much surrounded by joy, and the best reward for me – still – after all these years – is the “ooh” and “aah” of the perfect flavour.