My career change through TAFE took me sky high

The Gordon TAFE celebrates 130 years in 2017. So each month, we‘re introducing some of the faces that have studied with us over the years to share where they are today, and how they got there.
Name:              Amy Caddick
Studied:           Diploma of Conservation and Land Management
Year:                2009
Now:                Senior Officer Regional Operability, Emergency Management Victoria
Almost 10 years ago, you embarked on a career change from nursing to undertake a conservation course. What sparked this decision?
Nursing is a profession that you need to love which I always had, but something changed in me and I knew it was time for a different direction. I’ve always loved the outdoors and have a passion for the environment so it was a logical choice. I was already involved in conservation volunteering, so it felt right to take the next step and try to make that a career.
What is one of your favourite memories from your time at The Gordon?
There are a lot of great memories but I think my favourites were made out in the field.  The course is very practical which attracted me in the first place, so you get to do a lot of interesting things.  I loved working with community groups and being part of worthwhile projects.  One of my favourites was going to Mt Rothwell and seeing conservation projects first-hand
What does your average work day look like?
The thing about emergency management is there is no average day!  It’s difficult to explain my job as it is so varied. My business-as-usual job revolves around emergency management projects and a lot of engagement with diverse stakeholder groups which is very interesting, challenging and rewarding. 
Apart from your day job, you are also on a 365-day-per-year roster as a State Control Centre Room Manager and also work as a mapping operator. Tell us about these roles!
My role as SCC Room Manager is a role that I really enjoy as every day or situation is different. During an emergency, my role supports the Emergency Management Commissioner and State Response Controller to ensure the smooth operation of the Centre. A new role that I undertook this summer was the mapping operator in Firebird 300 which is the state’s airborne information-gathering helicopter. We provide near real-time information to crews on the ground to use in their decision making, in the form of live stream video and comprehensive mapping and still imagery.  Being airborne above a fire or flooded area gives a totally different perspective so it is a very valuable asset.
I am currently the only airborne female crew member in the state other than pilots and am proud and thankful that I am able to do such an exciting and interesting role.
What do you find most rewarding about your job?
I know it sounds like a cliché but the most rewarding part of my job is knowing that I am making a difference.  Emergency management in Victoria is a very interesting and exciting sector to be part of as we really do make a difference to the community, and that makes my job worthwhile.  Rarely a day goes by where I don’t learn something new or benefit from someone else’s experience and knowledge.
How did The Gordon prepare you for the career you have today?
I started studying with the notion that I would be a national park ranger but my career took a slightly different path! However, the course emphasis on stakeholder and community engagement has been invaluable. The skills I learned in building relationships and networks and engaging industry and stakeholders to complete projects and gain work experience, has been of great benefit to my career.
In 2015, you took a bold move and given 36 hours to leave the country for an international deployment to the United States. What did this involve and what lasting impacts has it had, either personally or professionally?
The deployment to the US has definitely been a career highlight. I went as part of a three-person national liaison team and our role was to liaise between the US and Australia/New Zealand regarding the requirements, welfare and needs of the crews during a large bushfire emergency that spanned three states.
I was based at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho for a little over six weeks.  We had 73 Australian and New Zealand personnel deployed for that time across multiple fires in multiple states so it presented many logistical challenges.  I loved every (long) day and learned so much professionally and personally.  It was very interesting to be a part of the huge fire management system in the US and to discuss the challenges that they face, which are not dissimilar to what we face here in Australia. 
You realise in those situations that emergency management really is a global community. I made a lot of friends, and I call them friends not just colleagues because you all go through something quite unique and that changes the relationships that you form.
As a female in a fairly male-dominated sector, what strengths do you bring to the table?
I think I manage things differently to some of my male colleagues particularly the soft skills that I possess, and that is a great strength.  My experience as a nurse in very stressful and difficult situations allowed me to develop skills that were easily transferable to my current roles. 
It is important as a female particularly in a male-dominated industry or workplace, to believe in yourself and your ability, and know that you have a place at the table because you are capable and earned it on merit. 
What are you most proud of in your career so far?
The US deployment makes me proud for a few reasons; that my leaders had faith in my ability to do a good job and represent Australia and New Zealand, and also proud of myself for being resilient and flexible and really giving my all to the deployment and the crews that I was responsibile for.
What would you say to others who are considering a big career or industry change?
You really can change anything if you want to. There will always be barriers and hurdles but if you want something enough you will be able to achieve it.  It will take time and effort but there is no reason why you can’t make the change.  Often, it just requires a change of perspective to ‘I can do it’ rather than ‘it’s too hard’.  I moved from the other side of the world to start a new life in Australia but a change in career seemed far more scary. However, it was something I wanted and in fact, needed at the time and I have never looked back.  You just need to be brave and ensure you have the support to succeed.


Posted: 20/05/2017 6:00:00 AM



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About The Gordon

The Gordon Institute of TAFE is one of the largest regional TAFEs in Victoria and has been helping people gain real skills for real jobs for over 130 years. We pride ourselves on delivering a great range of TAFE courses from short courses to nationally accredited training across apprenticeships, traineeships, certificates, diplomas, and advanced diplomas, which can lead you to a great career or create pathways to university.

Our training is delivered with Victorian and Commonwealth Government funding. | Authorised by the Victorian Government, Melbourne.

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