A niche in business and education

first_imgIn the business world of board meetings and suits, Roula Tsiolas stands out. I didn’t want to do anything like anyone else did.For a start, she’s a woman. And, as the the founder and managing director of a successful business, and committee member of the Hellenic Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (HACCI), it’s no mean feat. The Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency 2010 Census shows women hold only 8.4 per cent of board positions and 8 per cent of key executive roles, and she’s the only female committee member at HACCI. But the determined businesswoman says she’s certainly encountered her fair share of the glass ceiling along the way. “I certainly have, and I would be lying if I said no, but the most important thing for me is that I behave as an individual with my knowledge, skills and experience,” she says. “It is demanding, because I am a mother of three children as well, so your role is always dual if not triple, I am also a spouse and there are so many other roles within you.” Ms Tsiolas studied at Melbourne and Monash Universities, completing post-graduate studies in curriculum development and design. She then worked as a secondary teacher before she left the classroom to become a mother. Her return to education became more business-oriented, and Ms Tsiolas worked as a consultant establishing and managing a number of registered training organisations (RTOs). In 2007, she and her husband Stelios established their own RTO: Australian Industrial Systems Institute (AISI). Further proving she knows how to carve a niche, after months of market research, Ms Tsiolas developed the courses to specialise in automotive, building and construction courses, as well as English as a Second Language (ESL). “In offering the education we do we want to fill the gaps, and these are skill areas where there are huge gaps, not just in Australia but worldwide, so we’re ensuring that our graduates will be employable,” she said. “I didn’t want to do anything like anyone else did.” AISI has student intakes every month, which is another reason she says the school is so successful. Ms Tsiolas says the school has a strong focus on pastoral care: all of the 800 students at the AISI, are given Mr and Mrs Tsiolas’ mobile numbers. Not many schools would do that, but Ms Tsiolas says pastoral care is crucial for AISI, whose student base is mainly international students. She says when the issue of racism towards international students hit the news, AISI was proactive in involving counsellors and helping students to avoid danger. “We only had one particular incident where a student did come into some grief, but he was very good in contacting both myself and Stelios,” she says. “We’re on 24 hour call for our students.” She said that she certainly noticed the recent slump in international students, but AISI’s specialist courses meant the student flow was still fairly strong. “I think that’s what was our buoyancy during that quite destructive wave in the industry,” she said. “We haven’t been as directly affected, no, I can gladly say.” Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more

Read More →