MyStory - MyRoad

The 16 diverse stories of our MyRoad Industry Volunteers from across Australia embedded in the MyRoad mentor experience brings to life the passions and pathways of each individual and will inspire you to go on the journey with them.


Jess Gleeson

Origin Learning Centre Coordinator

Growing up in the small regional town of Bell, with one local grocery store, one butcher shop and a pub, there were many limitations as far as working opportunities available to youth. Dalby was a 30 minute commute each day to go to school by bus. At age 13, I managed to pick up 3-6 hours work weekly at the local grocery store.

As I entered into high school in Dalby where I completed my Year 11 and 12 studies, I ventured into a new job of working for the local Foodworks store as a delicatessen junior. In my second year, when I was in year 12, I was promoted to a deli senior which also entailed further responsibilities of training new deli staff, closing and cashing up the store at the end of a nightshift.

When I finished year 12 I headed straight to university in Cairns (James Cook University) to study two things I was passionate about during my schooling –  teaching and language. It was 2 years into my degree when a family matter arose and I was forced to transfer home to study at the University of Southern Queensland in Toowoomba. During that time I secured a position back at Foodworks in Dalby as a Senior cashier full time. The distance, work commitments and struggles of being a university student soon took its toll on me and I dropped out of university 6 months after transferring. I saw this as an opportunity to further my career within a company that had given me so much over my schooling years and soon was promoted to a Deli manager at the age of 19 and relocated to the small town of Millmerran. After being at the store for a year I was promoted again to second in charge.

At the age of 22 I decided that there were no further opportunities of career advancement within the company and started looking “outside the box” and landed a role as a completions administrator with Thiess, who at the time had just commenced working on the QCLNG project 40 minutes outside Dalby. As the project started to wrap up, I was lucky enough to secure a role within Origin Energy as Technical Assistant (glorified term for administrator) with the Commissioning team based out at a site close to Roma. I got my first taste of the FIFO lifestyle and camp living, but also learnt that this industry can introduce you to some truly amazing people who soon became my second family away from home.

After 12 months with the commissioning team, I secured the position I currently hold at Origin, as an Origin Learning Centre Coordinator based at their site near Miles. I am fascinated with continually learning and dabbling in my soul passions of teaching and recently completed a Certificate 3 in Education Support through Open Colleges. I am excited to see how I can incorporate this into my career path in the future!

My journey has been one with many positives and challenges, but if I have learnt anything from all of my career changes and life decisions it is this: You are not limited in what you can do and the possibilities are endless. You just need to always try and see the positives in all situations and see the obstacles as a learning experience to grow, not a negative, because these challenges/ obstacles are only going to make you stronger and help you determine what you don’t want in the search to help you discover what you do want. Be bold, be brave and above all, be inspiring to others because there is always someone younger watching you. Be the example, and show them that life is what you make it and you can do anything you set your mind to.

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Frazer Moore

Landscaper, Active Earth Landscape Supplies

I first began working for MSA National immediately after finishing the HSC. I commenced a business traineeship and was employed by MSA as a trainee. I completed my traineeship with them and advanced many skills and learnt how to function in a working environment.  

Soon after completing my traineeship with MSA I moved away and worked for them remotely for a short period of time. I then left and began working at Active Earth, a landscaping company, in which I have adapted to a completely different working environment and have furthered many practical skills that I never would have previously. I have been with active Earth for around 6 months now.

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Tanya Price

Instructor/Founder Sunshine Coast Motorcycle School

I worked in the IT industry for about 20 years but always loved motorbikes.   About 4 years ago I started a motorcycle school for scratch with the goal of teaching a few people on weekends.  I accidentally discovered there was a niche market for absolute beginners.  By word of mouth alone my business grew.  Many people provided me advice on how to grow the business, however, I stayed true to my focus and didn’t want to get caught up in just making money.  I have always believed if you look after your clients, treat them with respect, give them value for money, your business will flourish.  That is exactly what has happened.   I just love teaching people how to ride, they often overcome fear and anxiety, can be a life long dream etc and I am a part of that.

It hasn’t been an easy journey for me. I wasn’t the best behaved student at school, and I ended up doing things the hard way, but with determination I never gave up.

I still do my IT work, which has ended up taking me places and helps me run the motorbike school.

It’s taken me a long time (approx 27 years) but I’m now at a place where I love both of my jobs and have the flexibility I want to enjoy my life on my terms.  I’d love to talk with students, tell my story and hopefully that might help someone on their journey.


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Jacqui Zacka

Barista, Jamaica Blue

I remember that before I started working I literally applied for 100 jobs and took the first one that offered me one which was New Zealand Natural, scooping ice cream and making smoothies after school and on weekends. However now I look back Im so happy that I ended up in hospitality because I love it!

From then I went to working at the Theobroma Chocolate Lounge and that’s where I learnt to make coffee. At first I was only there part time and then eventually I finished up with school and had no idea what I would do if I went to uni (I still don’t know) so I got full time hours and stayed there for about 1.5 years.

Then I reached out and got a job working in downtown Auckland at a T/A coffee kiosk earning pretty good money. This job was by far the best for me as a person as it gave me the confidence I have today – I had no choice but to talk to people all day long! I left there after 3 years as I moved to Sydney!

Once in Sydney I got a job as an Assistant Manger for Grilld working in Bondi Junction where I learnt so much about managing a team and all of the behind the scenes stuff of running a successful business.

But I’m now back to making coffee & working for Jamaica Blues flagship store!

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Brad Flick

Kindergarten Teacher, Dubbo Public School

I began working at 15 in a fruit market and when it closed down I gained a position at the retail store Target. Both jobs taught me different things about customer service and personal responsibilities. It also gave me an insight into financial independence. Learning the basics of being in the workforce such as being prompt, helpful, respectful and asking questions helped me to adapt and grow as an individual. I held my position at Target during my schooling and even when I came home from Uni holidays. After my first attempt at university I gained employment with a telecommunications company again learning a new set of skills and operating different equipment. This job also taught me about being a part of a team and also sacrifice as we worked 10 days on and 4 off which meant I missed weekends at home. This job was demanding as we worked away from home and stayed in motels and pubs. After this I worked as a furniture removalist and in a stockfeed and flour mill facility. Both were physically demanding. From there I got a job in my old high school as an in class tutor which led to me beginning my teaching degree.

I am now a teacher and find it rewarding to see my kids achieving so much whilst being happy and safe.

I have had other little jobs between as well and now, looking back I am grateful that I was able to experience so many different jobs and learn so many different skills. This has given me a broad range of knowledge that I call upon daily in my teaching life.

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Tracey Grills

Owner, Mastectomy Bras, Swimwear & Prosthetics Online Store

My first real job after leaving school was with Coles Supermarkets back in the day when some stores had what they called a Variety department…similar to a K-Mart and a Coles supermarket under the same roof. Back in those days, a lot of people just simply “fell” into a job, not really thinking too much about what is was they really wanted to do. Because of that, many of us, including me, just stuck with the job we had, like it or not.

I did that until my early to mid 20s when I had my family…2 kids..a girl and a boy who have both left home now. Brandon, 24 is at Uni and working part time, and Stephanie, 22 is in the Navy based in Perth at the moment…Now theres a career! She’s been to many countries already and does some pretty cool stuff….and also gets paid pretty well!!

After I had my family, I started working part time at Energizer (batteries) as a part time merchandiser….Another job I just fell into. This job lasted nearly 20 years in 3 states performing many different roles during that time. In the last few years of my time there, I started running Initimo Lingerie parties after hours to earn a little extra cash, where I met a lady named Cathy Apelt, who was a McGrath Breast Care nurse. You can read about the McGrath Foundation online if you want to know a little more. Anyway, Cathy suggested I meet with a rep from a company called Amoena, who produce silicone breast prosthesis and post mastectomy garments for ladies who have had mastectomies as a result of breast cancer, and weren’t going down the path of breast reconstruction.

I met with Glenda from Amoena, who told me a bit about the company and what they do. It sounded quite challenging at the same time as being rewarding..being able to help ladies look and feel whole again. I was trained and certified by Amoena as a fitter, and started visiting ladies in their own homes to fit them for breast prosthesis and post mastectomy lingerie. I did this for a few years before taking the plunge and opening Tracey G Prosthetics and Lingerie in Maroochydore. We also have a small store that is situated on the grounds of the Wesley Hospital in Brisbane. Our offer is unique, in that nearly all of the products we sell are for ladies who have had breast cancer…they are our #1 focus, unlike other fashion outlets, who barely cater for them, if at all.

Next year, we plan to open a store in Toowoomba which is very exciting. Every job has its ups and downs, but in my job, I get to help people make them feel better about themselves every day which is great. I have established great working relationships with many breast care nurses and surgeons all over QLD. Many of my clients come from referrals that these professionals have made on my behalf, simply due to the quality of service the team at Tracey G offer. We take pride in how we act in our stores and how our stores look when people visit us….First impressions are lasting ones!

My husband Shane, who up until recently sold Harley Davidson motorcycles, now works with me in the business taking care of our web presence, advertising, accounting and just about anything else I can think of.

At age 49, I can honestly say that this job is the first one I ever made a conscious decision to pursue. I love my work and the people I work with. Sometimes its emotional, confronting, challenging, rewarding and occasionally frustrating, but I wouldn’t change it for anything.


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Kyla Poate

Corporate Receptionist, Jacobs

My career started in beauty, make up and sales. I have also had a lot of experience working in receptionist roles for different companies such as architectural firms, car dealerships, fashion retailers, medical clinics and administration companies.

Many of the roles I have worked in are customer service roles where I have worked closely with customers to assist them. I have lots of great skills in Microsoft Office and my typing speed is excellent. I enjoy using all different types of technology in my role to help colleagues get things done!

I was hired for my role at Jacobs because a recruitment company put me forward based on my previous skills. I also have a lot of experience on the front desk of businesses and am very friendly and confident with a happy and bubbly personality which is great for front of house.


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Josephine Elliott

Veterinary nurse, Northwest Vets.

My family moved to a property 50kms southeast of Coonamble, (a remote NSW town) when I was 5 and I completed my schooling at Coonamble Primary School and then Coonamble High School. I worked at the local supermarket after school and on weekends.

Studying agriculture in High School and doing Animal Studies through TAFE gave me an interest in Veterinary Nursing. On the recommendation of my Ag (agriculture) teacher I was fortunate enough to be offered a traineeship at the local veterinary practice when I finished school. This involved 2 years block release study through TAFE in Tamworth and then I became a fully qualified veterinary nurse.

I have now been with NorthWest Vets here in Coonamble for nearly 8 years, and I love my job every day. I took parental leave last year and now have a beautiful daughter. I am back at work 4 days a week and I can’t imagine doing anything else!

Sash McJury

Veterinary nurse, Northwest Vets.

I grew up in Sydney, at school I studied hard so that I would be able to do whatever I chose. All of my friends knew exactly what they were going to do when they left school and although I had good grades, I couldn’t commit to a career path.

I attended Sydney University for six weeks before dropping out and taking a year off. I then attended Macquarie university and after four and a half years, obtained a certificate for the bachelor of science-psychology. I then found myself unable to use the Degree to find a job without further study.

Whilst all of the career confusion was happening, I fell into a kennel-hand role at a vet clinic that became a junior nursing role. Since then I haven’t looked back! I worked as a locum vet nurse in London, a practice manager at a clinic in Sydney, a reception manager at another clinic in Sydney and am now back to nursing at Coonamble!

It just goes to show the variety of roles that are available in the veterinary industry. All of these roles are attainable through TAFE qualifications and whilst working. My advice to people reading this is: never stop improving yourself and pushing your boundaries because the options are out there and you will find something that you enjoy eventually.


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Jess McCray

Mammal Curator, Featherdale Wildlife Park

As far back as I can remember I have always been fascinated by animals. I had photos of me when I was around three years old in the backyard looking at kookaburras, blue tongue lizards and laughing at the cockatoos playing in the trees. Growing up I couldn’t decide what I wanted to be; from a vet to a professional dog walker, a zookeeper, a farmer, a dolphin trainer, wildlife photographer or even a presenter in a bird show at a zoo.

Zoo keeping is a very competitive industry, and with no experience other than being passionate about animals I didn’t know what to do. While trying to decide what career path to take when I finished high school, I decided to volunteer and see for myself the day to day reality of working as a zookeeper. I loved it from day one! It was hard work being a volunteer but working with people who had the same passion as me, and to spend days learning from them and be surrounded by animals was a joy.

I volunteered for six months, and my first paid shift was doing night tours around a wildlife facility in the city. These first shifts lead to an opportunity with the interactive team taking animals out to meet guests and doing presentations around the park, but it was over a year before I started getting paid zoo keeping shifts. I started in the bird department, and after two years I was lucky enough to join the mammal team where I was mentored by some wonderfully experienced and passionate keepers who have shaped me into the person I am today.

Today, almost ten years after I started volunteering, on any one day, I am responsible for a team of at least 15 keepers and oversee and manage one of the most extensive collection of Australian native mammals in the world.


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Luciano Pasa

Sous Chef, Wrest Point Casino

My career started in Customer Service at the age of 15 while attending school, working weekend and school holidays. This gave me a great foundation for what was to come. After I finished school I was unsure what I wanted to do, I attended university and decided it was not for me. I had an opportunity to take an apprenticeship in a kitchen and it all started there!

Once I gained my qualification in commercial cookery I stepped out of my comfort zone to learn as much as possible gaining new skills and knowledge of the industry, I also learnt a lot about myself in the process!

I work in a commercial kitchen, which means that we cook for hundreds of people (hotel and function guests) in one go. Sometimes we could be making food for 500 people attending a wedding or meeting.

A sous chef is responsible for planning and directing food preparation in kitchens. This involves supervising other kitchen staff, as well as keeping an eye out for problems that arise in the kitchen and seizing control of a situation at a moment’s notice. I prepare and cook food, and have learnt many styles of cooking, including such skills as French, Italian, and Fusion cooking. As a Sous Chef, I am also responsible for overseeing the kitchen staff, including scheduling rosters and making sure everyone is working together as a team.

Working as a Chef is a very rewarding career, possibilities are endless, and the culture the hospitality industry provides is second to none. Your colleagues are more like a family!


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Amber Jordan

Pastry Chef, Wrest Point Casino

My first job was working at a supermarket in the delicatessen section after school and on the weekends. I worked there all through high school where I learnt many skills such as customer service, taking responsibility and how to manage my time. When I left high school and moved onto college (year 11 and 12) I was quite lost in what to do and realised I was just wasting my time there so I decided that I wanted to get a job.

I knew I wanted to do something where I could make a career out of it and maybe earn a certificate. That’s when I found out the casino in Hobart (where I live) – was offering an apprenticeship as a pastry chef so I did lots of research and fell in love with the job.

I did a 3 ½ year apprenticeship studying both bread and pastry. I qualified and stayed on full time at the casino. I am a fully qualified pastry chef. A pastry chef is someone who is trained and skilled in the making of pastries, desserts, bread and other baked goods. Some pastry items may include cakes, cookies, cupcakes, pies, tortes and ice cream. Pastry chefs are employed in large hotels, bistros, restaurants, bakeries, and some cafés.

I am now in my 7th year here and I find in this career, I never stop learning new skills as this job is always evolving and changing. Recently, I have been promoted to Chef De Partie which has opened up a whole new range of opportunities for me. This will put my knowledge to the test but will teach me a whole new set of skills which I will be able to use for the rest of my career. A chef de partie, is a chef in charge of a particular area of production in a restaurant (in my case, pastry). In large kitchens, each chef de partie might have several cooks or assistants. In most kitchens, however, the chef de partie is the only worker in that department.


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Georgia Carney

Educational Leader, Goodstart Early Learning

I started showing an interest in childcare when I was studying at college. I decided to go straight on to TAFE to study my certificate 3 and then my diploma. During my studies, I did practical placements where I was able to show my passion and landed my first childcare job in after school care. After completing my studies I worked in a few different childcare centres until I found Little Bee. This family-run business helped and supported me through further studies and built my experience in mentoring and training.

I have a great interest in helping other adults learn about this great industry, so when I moved into my Educational Leader role for Goodstart Early Learning I was so excited about landing this new role and working through all its challenges. In this role, I am the leader of a toddler-aged learning space and I mentor those I work with to help them with their studies as well as achieving high standards of care for children.

I am very proud of how far I have come and know that I want to take this career further, I have dyslexia, yet it has never slowed me down in my path to my current role.

I believe that by being open and honest with people about my abilities, I am able to achieve more with the support and understanding of those around me. My dyslexia has also given me a great advantage for my role as I learn so differently and so I can adapt how I teach others to suit them. I am a visual learner and conversations hold in my mind most, this approach helps many others who have struggles with learning or even just motivation to learn. As educational leader, I am able to not only help people with their learning but also make them aware of what type of learner they are and provide strategies to support them.


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Lucy Watson

Shop Owner

Lucy grew up in Sydney NSW. After finishing high school, she completed her Certificate II in Agriculture, then went on to work in an entry level marketing role in a law firm, which she enjoyed, but eventually got sick of the rat race and commuting to work in crowds and traffic. She decided to move to Dubbo, did another certificate at TAFE and got into grain trading and selling where she was trained on site at an agricultural farm. She did grain broking, insurance brokerage, finding the best markets for wheat, canola, barley, chickpeas and cotton. Lucy did this for 5 years and eventually moved to a company training and ginning – (processing) cotton. She then went on to work for a solar farm, working on installing solar panels.

Lucy decided then to move out to Coonamble, about 165km from Dubbo. She didn’t know what she wanted to do from here, she was keen to start up her own business but had never had the opportunity. Lucy went to a local beautician one day to have a treatment and noticed that she had lots of additional shop space, so in 2015 took the risk and started up her own shop, Mink and Me and One Hundred Co, a coffee space with the beauty therapist also using a section of the space. She started with word of mouth and social media, eventually added a hairdresser, then coffee. Collaboration was definitely key, sharing the resources, labour and expenses and thinking outside the box. Lucy now loves the creativity and independence of being her own boss!

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Cody Smith


Cody Smith grew up in Coonamble, a small remote town in the NSW western plains where he attended high school. His first job out of high school was as a bank teller for the local Commonwealth Bank (CBA). The customer service skills he learnt in that job have been very useful throughout his entire career.

After a couple of years working in the CBA, Cody moved to Newcastle, a large regional NSW town about 1.5 hours’ drive north of Sydney, hoping to work in another bank. Instead, he ended up in the car industry working in parts and detailing as well as distribution at Holden Motors. Again, his role was customer service based and he began to do some sales work.

Cody then went on to look for work in the hospitality industry whilst also studying hairdressing in Newcastle and Sydney. Eventually, Cody decided that the combination of creativity, mathematics and customer service in hairdressing was the career for him. He managed to land a role in Gozzard’s salon, a large and well known Sydney salon in Paddington, NSW. Cody learnt a lot about hairdressing and building a business, collaborating with others and building a client base.

Cody loves working back in Coonamble and is a proud indigenous young man, running his own salon in his home town, along with a local beautician and retailer. His clients come from up to 150km away for a haircut! He believes that whilst it is not common for men to be hairdressers in country towns, that his community has been very supportive of his business as he has brought skills back to the bush that he learnt in the city.


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Simon Tyrrell

Chief Product Officer IT

Simon is from Hobart, Tasmania. He is the Chief Product Officer at LiveTiles in Hobart which also has offices in North America. He works with the sales, marketing, and product development teams.


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Shanae Murray

Beauty Therapist

Shanae Murray grew up in Coonamble NSW, a remote town in the central western plains. Whilst she was in Year 11, Shanae began a TVET course in hospitality & retail and to help her studies, managed to land a job locally in a café, working as a barista and waitress.

Once she finished school, she moved to Newcastle as it felt different to Coonamble, more like a city but still seemed regional, not as scary as moving to a place like Sydney! It was in Newcastle that Shanae began studying Beauty. She expected it to be easier and found that learning all the theory and content was challenging. Even though it was hard work, she loved the practical side of the course and loved working with customers, making them feel better through beauty therapy.

Shanae had always wanted to run her own business and always had a feeling she’d be able to do it. She began working at a day spa in Newcastle where she learnt many skills in managing clients, running a beauty business and became a confident beauty therapist. Eventually, sick of working for others, Shanae moved home to Coonamble in 2011 and opened up her own salon, which was nerve racking and challenging! The local community began to support her through her good work, word of mouth and lots of advertising on social media which was slow at first. The advice Shane would give to her 16-year-old self is – ‘Stop being so naive and be strong and open to opportunities and criticism. Learn not to take things personally and take on feedback well and you will be a success.’


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