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All roads lead to South Bank for Emma

When TAFE Queensland hospitality teacher Emma Boccari served her first restaurant customer as a teenager, little did she know it would be the beginning of an amazing career journey.

Her skills, passion and determination for the hospitality industry first took her to TAFE Queensland as a student, half way around the world as a professional, and back to TAFE Queensland as a teacher.

Now a proud member of the hospitality educational team, she’s imparting her industry skills and experience to mentor TAFE Queensland students to become the food service professionals of tomorrow.

“I fell in love with the industry during my very first job. I just thrive on interacting with customers and working with people with the same passions, motivations and personality as my own — sometimes it doesn’t feel like work at all.”

Setting her sights on a hospitality career during high school, Emma studied a Certificate II in Hospitality (SIT20316) while working in one of her first roles.

Her academic achievements while studying the certificate saw her win the food and beverage category of the Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC) Salute to Excellence in Hospitality in 2012, an award that recognises Queensland's high achieving Year 11 and 12 hospitality trainees.

Winning this award earned her a scholarship to study the Diploma of Hospitality Management (SIT50416) with TAFE Queensland at its South Bank campus.

Her dedication to her career saw her rise through the industry’s ranks, embracing every opportunity and challenge that came her way.

This strong mindset saw her take on a paid six-month internship with Disney World in Orlando, Florida, as a gaming attendant in the resort’s arcade.

“I worked in a customer service role and ensured everyone who visited Disney World’s arcades had an amazing one-of-a-kind experience,” explained Emma.

After returning to Australia, Emma continued balancing her work in restaurants with further studies as she completed an Advanced Diploma of Hospitality Management (SIT60316).

“The combination of my qualifications and my work experience gave me the confidence and ability to manage restaurants, but after almost a decade of frontline service I wanted a new challenge,” said Emma.

“So I decided to become the teacher that motivates and inspires students, so I completed the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment (TAE40116),” explained Emma.

Soon after graduating she was appointed to a hospitality teaching position with ‎TAFE Queensland, based at the same South Bank campus where she studied, bringing her career full circle.

“I began tutoring in 2019, teaching students job-ready skills in TAFE Queensland’s bistro, before being promoted to a teacher in 2020, and I now train diploma-level students.”

Teaching students the skills they need in TAFE Queensland’s fully-operational bars and restaurants and watching them become job ready for rewarding hospitality careers is a real passion for Emma.

“I love watching my students’ develop — seeing them grow is so rewarding for me,” says Emma.

In a testament to how successful her hospitality career is, she spoke at the recent 2020 QTIC Salute to Excellence award ceremony, the same award she won just eight years earlier.

She encouraged the audience of young hospitality workers to take every opportunity that comes their way — and make the most of it.