Getting to Know: Michele Jardim (Campus Manager @ KBS Brisbane)
Where are you from? Where did you grow up and around what kind of environment?
I was born and bred in South Africa. I have a Portuguese background but have been living in Australia for the past 20 years. I grew up in Johannesburg. Coming from a Portuguese family, I grew up with lots and lots of cousins. I was one of the very few females in my family so I grew up being a bit of a tomboy but mostly with lots of people around and I grew up in Africa where it’s a pretty spiritual, pretty special place so I am very fortunate.
Why did you decide to move here?
I was young and you always think the grass is greener on the other side but I came out on holiday and fell in love with the country so I decided to make Australia my home.
Are there things you miss about back home?
Yes, I very much miss my brother and my sister-in-law and definitely some food items. I do miss the African culture as well; it is pretty special.
Conversely, are there things that Australia offers that you can’t get back home?
Yes and no. I think what Australia has what a lot of other countries do not have is a really good quality of life. I think people have a really good life in Australia and I think there are lots of opportunities for everybody. I do not say that it is an easy life but it certainly provides people with the opportunity and it’s a beautiful country so there is a lot that does not cost you money to enjoy the country that we have.
What did you study, and what led you to choose that course?
I actually did not go to university. I studied beauty therapy and I am an internationally qualified beauty therapist and that is where I started my career. Why did I choose that profession? I am a nurturing person by nature so for me it is about making people feel special, feel good about themselves and that’s what attracted me the most about doing beauty therapy.
How has that course helped you get to where you are today?
I think for me, whilst the course that I did might not be relevant to where I am today, it’s a skill set that has taught me many things. In beauty therapy, you need to be able to connect with people so communication skills, being able to read people’s body language, being able to pick up on people: what they like and dislike, without actually having a conversation with them. It is also being able to communicate with people from all age groups. You might have an extremely young client as well as older clients so it has taught me to communicate and deal with people from all walks of life, different backgrounds and cultures. I have also learnt time management from my years in beauty therapy because nobody likes to be kept waiting for an apartment. That is a skillset that I have been able to transfer throughout my career and to all the different avenues of my career.
What do you say to people who want to study but have no idea what course to enrol in?
I think you need to find what you are passionate about, what makes you happy and will motivate you to get out of bed. Looking at jobs because they pay well doesn’t always make you happy. You need to find what really drives you. That would be my biggest recommendation when choosing a career.
What was your very first job?
My very first job was working in my parents’ take-away shop where I was serving customers at the age of 11. I guess that is where I have learnt customer service by watching it happen from my parents and my family who used to work in the shop. So my customer service skills began at the age of 11!
Tell us a little bit about how you ended up in the education industry?
After having my own salon, I started training staff and that is where my love for training really got started. Whilst I still had my business I then started to train in a private beauty academy as a lecturer. Education just became a part of my business and I then moved into education.
What’s your favourite thing you enjoy about your career?
People! Seeing people grow and develop to achieve their goal. It does not matter how big or small it is but seeing people achieve their goal and passion is really the highlight of my career.
Why do you love working for KBS?
Again, the people! For me it is about creating a nurturing environment for our students. A lot of our students are away from home and English is not their first language, and we understand that it can be difficult and stressful at times. I love working with KBS to support and create a home away from home for our students. That is why I enjoy working here.
What’s a typical day in the life of being a Campus Manager?
It all starts off with checking that our lecture rooms are all open in the morning, I then go and try to meet as many students as I can. It is also a mixture of e-mails, meetings, working with the staff on some events that we have got or ideas or brainstorming and touching base with Mel, our careers person, Margaret, the success coordinator and constant contact with our lecturing staff.
How do you spend your free time? What do you love doing outside of work?
Socialising! I’m a people person so I like to catch up with my friends on the weekends. There are always some Portuguese friends so it is always around food, either it is breakfast, lunch, dinner, or drinks. I have been spending a great deal of my time at work recently so I do not really do much outside of that.
If you could spend a day with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and where would you take them?
My grandmother. She was very old school, typical Portuguese lady but she had the most beautiful inner strength. She did not have an easy life as a child and I think that I have inherited my nurturing nature from her. Her family was everything to her and she only had to meet you once and if you were a friend of ours then you became part of the family very quickly. She had the most beautiful heart and soul.
Where would I take her? You know, that’s a thing with my grandmother; I don’t think she would care where it was, as long as she was with me. She wouldn’t have cared if we sat in my lounge room with our pyjamas or I took her to a fancy restaurant but if I was to take her somewhere I would either take her to the Whitsunday Islands or maybe we could sit somewhere in Italy so we could admire the Italian men together.
Do you have any secret talents?
I dance very well!
Favourite travel destination and why?
I can’t say I have a favourite. I have loved all the places I have been to because there is something special about all of them. I don’t think any place is more beautiful than the others but I love Europe; that is kind of my favourite bit.
What causes do you believe in?
I have one particular cause that I am extremely passionate about. There is an orphanage run by nuns in South Africa. It is an orphanage for kids that were either born with AIDS or contracted AIDS, and either their parents are dead (have died from AIDS) or the children have been abandoned outside the orphanage.
Two nuns run the orphanage and the government does not fund it so they rely very much on donations. The nuns put a lot of their own money in the orphanage, not that they have a lot of it but they clothe, feed, educate and obviously provide a home for the orphans. A friend’s mother actually went to volunteer in the orphanage and that’s how I have become quite involved in it. So the money that we raise goes directly to the orphanage. It is not an organisation so there are no administration fees and all the money goes to the children. Once we raised enough money to buy them all a bicycle and the children absolutely cherish them. The bicycles are still in pristine condition!