ACPE Alumna, Heather Welch, completed a Bachelor of Physical Education as part of the 2002 intake, graduating in 2005. Since then, Heather has gone on to enjoy success in several corners of the world. Heather has enjoyed experience and success as a teacher, in sports management and now in business management. ACPE gave Heather the foundation to start her career as a teacher, before allowing her to grow, develop and figure out which career path to take. We were lucky enough to catch up with Heather from the other side of the world, London, as part of our ACPE Alumni Game Changer Series.
What made you study with ACPE?
After high school, it’s a tough ask to keep studying. So, I had to ask myself, what are my options. I wasn’t ready to study at University and I wanted a little adventure: I travelled overseas like many gap year students. I worked in the USA as a camp counsellor and lifeguard. I was good with kids and adults alike, and I knew that meant something. It was during this trip that I decided on becoming a teacher to specialise in Physical Education. When I returned to live in Melbourne, I applied to ACPE. On winning a place I made the move all the way to the big smoke, to Sydney!
What did you most enjoy about time at ACPE?
At ACPE I really enjoyed the small classes, the well-planned content, the amazing lecturers with lots of energy. My lecturers included Boyd, Archer, McMaster, Harris, Francis, Trapp, Hurley, Hristofski, Hill, Dreyer Hill, Dreyer, Banks, Browne, Timmins, Wilhelmi and so many more. As a sporty person, I loved the practical application of the information & subjects. At that time, we were based in Olympic Park and had access to amazing opportunities facilitated by the Institute of Sport and all the Olympic facilities.
How did studying at ACPE set you up for where you are today in your career?
Today I use the practical application learnt from teaching for my role at Edx Education, not only with the brand development but also with the business side as well. I went in to ACPE thinking I’m going to be a Physical Education teacher. Change the world with each PE class by engaging and interacting with students. ACPE gave me the foundation to start my career as a teacher, however when I moved more into sports management then business management, I saw how my studies at ACPE allowed me to grow, develop and figure out which path to take for my career.
Your career has taken you across the globe since graduating from ACPE. Can you please share with us how that journey has played out?
Well, life has definitely been adventure: Australia – Singapore- UAE – UK. Have we finished travelling for a while? I think so,
Sunny beaches in Sydney, Australia
When I started as the Health and fitness manager at North Sydney Olympic Pool, I realised I was enjoying life in Sydney. That is where I met my husband. When I moved to the EO then CEO of NSWWBA Inc (Women’s Bowls in NSW) I was also studying my master’s in business technology at UNSW. On completion of this, I had my first baby boy & graduated from my Masters. At this time, I was also given the opportunity to be a Non-Executive Director on the NSW Womens Sport looking at ways to further develop women’s sport. We contributed to policy, advocacy and so much more. We had amazing directors. It was a huge honour to be part of this.
Busting city of Singapore, Asia
My husband and I decided to move to Asia with our toddler. Singapore to be exact. I was offered an employment opportunity in the world-class vocational learning college, ITE (which even had a 747 in campus for practical learning) as a sport business lecturer teaching Entrepreneurship, Business Economics, Design Thinking and so much more. This was a great adventure, the college had very few expat lecturers, so it was a privilege to be offered this opportunity and gave me a wonderful cultural experience. During my time in Singapore I was asked to join the World Bowls Board as a Non-Executive Director to develop communications and marketing, this took me to the Commonwealth Games which was a great delight.
The sand pit we called home in Dubai, UAE, Middle East
A few years later, we moved to the Middle East with my husband’s job. I embarked on a new journey with Edx Education, the business that specialises in designing and manufacturing educational resources for 18months- 11years for hands on learning or as we like to say, ‘learning through play’. Where I opened the Middle East office in Dubai. Soon, was writing a white paper for Edx Education on international school’s supply chain in the Middle East. Worked closely with schools and teachers across the region.
Land of tea and cakes, London, United Kingdom
What an opportunity being offered a job in the UK as the International Branding Manager for Edx Education. The company now creates and innovates education products for schools and parents alike. Taking my teaching background and skills learnt from ACPE and business from my master’s looking after a range of brands made up of amazing educational products. This is definitely a dream job!
What professional achievement are you most proud of so far in your career?
There are a few, however the most memorable are in different countries… Sydney. During my time at NSWWBA we managed a constitutional change of an executive board of 19 to 7, as we had a very old fashioned a frankly unworkable system. We had to win the vote from 500+ clubs and 30,000 members; this was quite a cultural shift for the organisation. The change was implemented, and it then allowed us to focus on more sports business decisions. Singapore. With my amazing colleagues from ITE, we took 80 ITE students from Singapore to Bundung, Indonesia in the middle of Ramadam for a cultural tour. We nearly took over a whole aeroplane, hotel and all the restaurants. Due to Ramadam, culturally we had to be aware of when and where we could eat, travel, etc. It was an adventure and we all had an amazing time!
Dubai, UAE. Setting up the office, Dubai in a free zone had many challenges along the way. But when it was set up, it allowed me to develop the relationships with the world of education as well as the toy industry.
What advice would you have for any ACPE students hoping to follow in your footsteps and enjoy international success?
Find something you love, find a way to make a living out of it. Once you love your work it will never feel hard or tiring to go to work, just an adventure, new challenge to be creative!
Could you please suggest three skills that current ACPE students should be focussing on for self-development both professionally and personally?
If you asked me this question before 2020 it would have been different. However, after the unconventional year we have had so far, being in lockdown in the UK with 2 children, home learning and working full time for 5+ months I would suggest:
- Persistence. Keep going if you believe in the task, business or learning methodology, just keep going.
- Resilience. Find another way to move forward as there are always roadblocks and challenges, however it is part of the adventure and success is much sweeter.
- Be Entrepreneurial. Critical & creative thinking will allow you to make something of nothing. It will help you be creative and to find a way to benefit the world.
What does the future have in store for Heather Welch?
Ah the crystal ball question. Who knows exactly what the future holds, but I can tell you what I’m planning? In my role, I’m looking at developing Edx Education brand, marketing Internationally providing support for children, parents, caregivers and families. Love the programme Edx Education are involved in from developing after school care centre in Taiwan to providing teachers to train teachers in Africa, Nepal with Gecko on the Move to other CSR projects in 2021… On a personal level, I’m looking into facilities to start a PHD in education looking at the long-term effects of play based learning, but please don’t tell my husband!
Any parting words of wisdom or shout outs to old teachers and classmates?
Shout outs to Boyd, Archer, McMaster, Harris, Francis, Trapp, Hurley, Hristofski, Hill, Dreyer, Banks, Browne, Timmins, Wilhelmi and so many more!
Advice to others? Well, never be afraid to try everything, a teaching degree can give you lifelong skills in lots of different industries. Think outside the box. One thing I learnt when I was moving countries it to push yourself beyond your comfort zone in all areas of your life, social, sport, work and study…