As a Leading Vocational Hairdressing Teacher at TAFE Queensland, Sharan Berry-Doyle works with certificate II and certificate III apprentice hairdressers, school-based apprentices and trainees, and full-time students in the new purpose-built training salon at our Mooloolaba campus.
She was awarded the 2015 Queensland Teacher/Trainer of the Year and placed second at the Australian Training Awards, was a finalist in the 2016 Sunshine Coast Australia Day Awards, received Runner-Up and Highly Commended in the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) Alumni of the Year Awards, and has been nominated in the 2017 Telstra Business Woman (Professional) of the Year Awards. An Australian Apprenticeships and TAFE Queensland ambassador, Sharan reflects on her journey into teaching, and what teaching means to her.
I have been at TAFE Queensland for 18 years now and each year is just as exciting as the last. The evolution of hairdressing and how we teach it has been quite significant, and our students have a very unique opportunity to not only gain employment in a very stable industry, but also branch out and become their own boss if they want to.
I get great joy from mentoring apprentices and helping them grow into capable and confident professionals. I really enjoy my ambassadorial duties and hope students, parents, schools and other teachers can draw inspiration from my story. After all, my journey is a little different to others as I didn’t go to university until I was in my late 30’s.
My story started many years ago and began with an apprenticeship at Stefan Hair the day I finished Year 12. I was at Stefan’s for years and worked my way up through the ranks to become the number one apprentice in the company, manage one of the largest Stefan salons in Australia, and was the company’s senior stylist.
But like most things, after a while you need a break. I spent six months away from the salon to travel and backpack around Europe where I landed in London and, well, stayed. I found my feet pretty easily as hairdressing is a universal industry and with my skills I easily found work wherever I wanted to.
I became hooked on travel and accepted an opportunity to work for Qantas International as a flight attendant. I was lucky enough to travel all over the world which was awesome and I loved every minute of it—except the constant state of jetlag.
On my days off, living in Sydney, I went into partnership with a friend who was a beauty therapist and we purchased a salon. It became so successful that we were booked out six months in advance.
While at Qantas I met my husband and after a few years we decided to move back to Queensland. There I bought a small coastal salon and began working part-time as a special needs teacher aide at a school in Caloundra—I like to keep busy!
My experience as a teacher aide was amazing and led me to complete my Training and Assessment in education (TAE) in the late 90’s. I then started my career at TAFE Queensland as a casual tutor one day a week. Like my time at Stefan Hair, I quickly rose through the ranks securing a permanent teaching position and writing all of the resources for the hairdressing certificates. Needless to say, here I am today.
After a few years at TAFE Queensland, I found myself in my late 30s and again felt the need for a new challenge. I wanted to understand more about teaching and began a Bachelor of Training at university. I soon became addicted to study and hooked on learning ways in which to help make students reach their full potential. I can proudly say that I’ve now completed my Graduate Diploma in Further Education at USQ and two Masters Degrees: Master of Training (majoring in Human Resources), and a Master of Education (majoring in Leadership and Management). That PhD is just around the corner I’m sure.
I take tremendous pride in inspiring young hairdressers and the best thing about my job is the chance to give back to a trade that has given me so much throughout my life. Nothing is more satisfying than seeing a past student succeed. When graduates go on to start their own businesses and send their apprentices to me for training I feel honoured—it’s a privilege and validates why I became a teacher.