While many in the chief executive circle saw university as the natural first step into their professional lives, that certainly wasn’t the case with Ballarat Group Training’s Mandy Macdonald.
The 48-year-old started her career in her family’s business as an apprentice hairdresser before going on to open her own salon.
Ms Macdonald said her ascension to the top job at BGT was testament to the value of apprenticeships as a starting point for a successful career.
“People think you have to start out with a uni qualification to get anywhere, so one of my aims is to recognise the value in apprenticeships and traineeships,” Ms Macdonald said. “I know what its like to be at the bottom of the rung and be paid minimal wages.”
From her small business roots Ms Macdonald went on to Melbourne University to study adult and vocational teaching, teaching at the-then University of Ballarat.
Most recently Ms Macdonald was the chief executive of another Ballarat organisation, Ballarat and District Nursing and Healthcare.
Ms Macdonald said the unorthodox entry to the white collar workforce had given her a greater appreciation for all aspects of the organisation, which assists employers and would-be employees in finding traineeships and apprenticeships.
“From (the family business) I developed a passion for understanding business, the financial side of it as well as the training and employment element of it.”