top of page

Bridging the Gap

Updated: May 13, 2023

By Dr Renée Ralph, Co-Founder, The Brilliant Foundation

CITY BEACH, Western Australia – Associate Professor Jane Coffey, People Culture Organisation, Curtin University with industry professionals Kirsty Anderson, Heritage Specialist (Operations), Roy Hill, David Gribble, Former CEO, Constable Care and Louella Paramor, People and Performance Manager, Telethon Kids Institute volunteered their time on Thursday 11 May to share their life stories and their career development with university undergraduates and guests. The Brilliant Foundation Sundowner was held at Hamptons City Beach overlooking the Indian Ocean with the setting the sun.

From Left to Right : Louella, Renée, Jane, Kirsty and David - volunteering their time and sharing their life experiences with the students and youth.

Question and Answer

Renée asked the first guest speaker, Associate Professor Jane Coffey: What made you decide to be a teacher and lecturer? What there a career plan and life design when you decided to do so?”

Associate Professor Jane Coffey, People Culture Organisation, Curtin University

Jane shared she completed a Bachelor of Commerce degree and had no idea what she wanted to do. She started her own company Jane Coffey & Associates for 15 years and she said that she remembered that she was asked to be a guest speaker on a topic and was extremely nervous. However, when she did it, she realised that she loved it.

Jane found a niche initially in sessional work as a tutor for several years before embarking a Doctor of Philosophy (PHD) in Human Resource Management, Industrial Relations and Performance Management at Curtin University. She shared that sessional work provided her the flexibility to bring up her child and be at home for her whilst pursuing her academic career. She loved her role teaching and being with students. Her role evolved from Deputy Head, Curtin University of Technology to Academic Director, Senior Lecturer and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2021.She has been with Curtin University for 17 years.

Jane is instrumental in designing and developing the core unit Strategic Career Design with her team 3 years ago. It has an annual enrolment of 2,000-3,000 students. She said some of the activities that the students have completed in tutorials such as the Compass Activity, Inheritance Factors and Odyssey Plans were developed by the Life Design Team at Stanford University.

She hopes that this unit will give the current generation the life skills to navigate through today’s fourth industrial revolution and complex gig economy. More importantly, to have the adaptive mindset and resilience to manage life's challenges in a purposeful way.

Renée asked the second speaker, Kirsty:”What degree did you do? Have you always been in the cultural heritage role? Why do you find it fulfilling? Was there a career plan and life design when you decided to do so?

Kirsty Anderson, Heritage Specialist (Operations), Roy Hill

Kirsty responded that she had no clue what she wanted to do in her career. She shared that she completed Bachelor of Arts (B.A), Archaeology and Classical History at The University of Western Australia. She achieved a First Class Honours Degree in Archaeology; her thesis research focused on the proposed stylistic chronologies for the rock art of the Kimberley region in northwest, Western Australia.

Currently, she is working as a Heritage Cultural Specialist at Roy Hill, entering into the commercial space. Kirsty is also completing her Masters of Business Administration with the Graduate School of Business, Curtin University.

Previously she worked at Yamatji Maripa Aboriginal Corporation (YMAC) over 5 years overseeing a team of six heritage professionals providing heritage management solutions to twelve native title claim groups and Aboriginal Corporations in the Yamatji and Pilbara regions of Western Australia. She started as a Heritage Officer at YMAC and was promoted to Heritage Manager and Director of Projects during her time there.

She graduated as a mature age student at the age of 29 and she was competing with the rest of the recent and fresh graduates. She was apprehensive in job applications and interviews, and she realised that she had a unique value proposition (UVP) within herself that no one had.

The self-belief and positive mindset gave her the confidence to pursue what she loved in her life. Her passion to help and support Indigenous communities that are vulnerable and marginalised.

Renée asked the third speaker, David Gribble: “What made you decide to work for a not-for-profit as a former CEO for the past 12 years? Why in this space? What's your greatest passion? Was there a career plan and life design when you decided to do so?”

David Gribble, Former CEO, Constable Care Foundation

David shared: ”Believe it or not, I graduated to become a librarian. I realised very quickly that I didn’t want to be in a librarian in a library. So the answer is no, I didn’t have a plan for my career.” However, he became a Chief Librarian in CBM International to manage the delivery of an Australia-wide audio book and braille library production and distribution service.

At VisAbility, he was there for over 16 years, employed as Chief Librarian for 10 years providing professional library and change management services for a government-funded specialist library service for people with vision impairments, including introducing WA's first automated braille production facilities. He was promoted to Manager to lead the inhouse ICT Management, government-funded SkillCentre vocational training operations, high-turnover assistive technology commercial sales, and a disability job readiness and placement service.

David has been a CEO and senior executive in the not-for-profit sector in WA for over 35 years. With a background across health, disability, ageing, community services and arts. He started as the Board Chair for Advocare Incorporated; General Manager for Alzheimer’s Australia WA Ltd; Board Chair of Indigo; WA Proctor of Australian Mensa; Deputy Chair, MBA and Executive Education Advisory Panel; Board Member of WestCycle; Chief Executive Officer of Constable Care Foundation; and Non-Executive Committee Member, Curtin Business School Alumni Association.

As a CEO who recently retired, David is currently undertaking a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) at Curtin University that explores opportunities for immersive vineyard experiences within the WA wine tourism industry. He is also a sessional academic delivering Business Ethics and Managing Change tutorial sessions for 3rd year undergraduate students for Semester One 2023.

David said: ”When one door closes, another definitely opens for you in life. When that opportunity arises, you have to rise to the challenge and take it. I really enjoy teaching the students at Curtin and I look forward to each tutorial session.”

Renée asked the fourth speaker, Louella Paramor: ”Have you always been in the HR role? Why do you find it fulfilling? Was there a career plan and life design when you decided to do so?”

Louella Paramor, People and Performance Manager, Telethon Kids Institute

Louella shared: ”As you can see with the previous speakers, we really didn’t plan our career. No one really did. I completed my Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in Marketing initially and went on to complete my Human Resources Management and Services at The University of Notre Dame Australia.”

Louella worked a Senior HR Officer at University of Notre Dame for over 3 years and went to Town of Claremont as a HR Advisor for 5 years. Currently, she works at Telethon Kids Institute as People and Performance Manager overseeing a team of 6.

Advice for Students Applying for Jobs and Interview

Louella said it is important to be prepared when you front up for an interview. So many times when she has asked the applicant: ”What do you know of Telethon Kids Institute and what do we do?” They are dumbfounded or flabbergasted and it’s evident they do not know the answer.”

Louella posed the question: ”Why apply for an organisation and not research what they do? It is important that you do so – as it shows that you understand the role that you have applied for and whether you are the right fit for the team.”

She advised that it is also important to try different generalist roles in your early career before specialising.

Ethics and Integrity

Kirsty said that when she looks for the right candidate who has ethics and integrity, that is paramount to her. “You can have the qualifications, however, the way you conduct yourself and the way your shine through your values – is what I am looking for my team.”

When the sharing session ended, the students chatted one-to-one with the guest speakers and took the time to connect and socialised.

Feedback from students:

“As a mature age student myself, it gave me confidence that I will be alright when I graduate.”

“It assured me that life is going to be okay. I do not know what to expect when I graduate in HR and hearing the speakers today, I realise that even if we do not know what life will bring – as long as we give it a go, I will be fine.”

"I can't believe that David has retired, was a CEO for several years...and is now pursuing his Doctorate."

“I am going to start applying for internships, and if I get paid internships, even better.”

“Now that I have graduated and got a job, I pay for all my bills, rent and car. It is a great feeling to be able to do so without my parents’ financial help.”

“I feel as if I need to do something more in the volunteering space. To give back somehow.”

“The last sundowner I came was really good with too. Tonight’s event is just as good. It is so worthwhile that I encouraged my friends at uni to come along. We learnt a lot.”

For the university students that attended this sundowner – Thank You so much for coming! All of you inspire me every day to do better!

Remember that these amazing individuals are no different to you and I.

They are Resilient. Diligent. Hardworking. Focussed. Passionate.

They find meaning in what they do every day.

Ordinary individuals, doing extraordinary things – in their roles, they seek to work on initiatives and projects that have value to make life lighter, more enjoyable and liveable.

True grit to do better, overcoming adversity and challenges through hard work, positive action and self-awareness.

Not the fake news that we see every day in social media, sensational news, reality TV or influencers touting wares.

They have continued their personal development and life-long learning through education.

They have done the hard yards to lead a fulfilling life. You can do the same.

So please start getting organised.

Make a Plan.

Read your academic journal articles. (do not roll your eyeballs at this stage)

Do your research.

Update your Endnote.

Attend your lectures face-to-face and attend ALL your tutorials.

Find your friends and your tribe. Maintain Your Friendship.

Acknowledgement of Thanks:

Associate Professor Jane Coffey, Kristy Anderson, David Gribble, Louella Paramor for volunteering their time, kindness, support and faith in this initiative. It has been a wonderful and meaningful experience for the students.

The Brilliant Foundation Sundowner is a complimentary event, organised and hosted by Dr Renée Ralph, Co-Founder, The Brilliant Foundation. This initiative has been running for the past 3 years now.

This event is supported and made possible by Founding Members, Fifi Mondello, Dr Vanessa Atienza-Hipolito, Associate Professor Amy Wei Tian and Alexander Circosta, Communications Lead, Rachael Coltrona, WAAPA musician and brilliant member who brought her sound equipment and microphones; and Josh Galvin for helping with packing up the equipment.

Co-Founders Renee Ralph and Alrick Dorett created The Brilliant Foundation. It was established to bridge an existing gap between academic writing and the world of professionals and individuals with multi-faceted life experience. The Brilliant Foundation is a space for professionals and non-academic individuals to have a voice for their thoughts, insights, opinions and reflections. We love to hear from you, your life story, your positive challenges and decisions that you have made.

Follow us on

Matt, Jasmine, myself and Sam

A/P Jane Coffey, Curtin University

Sharing life experiences with our academic and industry professionals

Kirsty Anderson and I.

The Brilliant Foundation Team : Rachael Coltrona, Fifi Mondello, Founding Member with Alexander Circosta, Communications Lead.

Oliver, Sam, Raven, Nigel with A/P Jane Coffey - Strategic Career Design students all ready for the Career Passport Module Assignment :)

Great ambassadors of Curtin University - international graduate Marion Harel from Mauritius with Andy Wu, international student in HR from Singapore.

Associate Professor Jane Coffey from Curtin University co-authored the textbook - Human Resource Management - Strategy and Practice - 11th Edition for the unit "Building a Sustainable Workforce" led by Dr Sandra Martain, Unit Coordinator for Semester 1, 2023 and team. This textbook has sold more than 300,000 copies since its launched last year.

Charlie, Felicity, Jasmine, Taya and Victoria

The Power to Rise Above - co-authored by Dr Vanessa Atienza-Hipolito to empower females who kindly donated the books to this sundowner

My gorgeous HR students Khusbu, Kaavya and Frances

Felicity, Charlie, Sayuru, Zhou, Nigel, Sam, Oliver, Raven

Associate Professor Jane Coffey with HR students

Thank you Dr Aparna for your autographed book Forget Me Not - looking forward to reading it.

Marion and Louella.

Strategic Rewards and Performance Management Students in Sem 2, 2022 and Building A Sustainable Workforce in Sem 1, 2023. Lovely to see you all Charlie, Sayuru and Zhou.

So good to see you Marion - thank you for coming after work

Strategic Career Design students with Jane Coffey.

Dr Aparna and I.



Follow us on

199 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page