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Small Businesses of Broken Hill – In Conversation with Ellen Gillespie

By Dylan J. Stone

Anyone who has been to Robinson College since April 2021 is likely to have bumped into College CEO Ellen Gillespie.

Ms Gillespie arrived in Broken Hill in April 2021 from Newcastle to manage Robinson College.

“I saw an opportunity in a remote but exciting location where I could exercise my existing skills and knowledge of the industry whilst being a part of a great community,” she says.

Ms Gillespie’s resume is impressive, with 22 years in the hospitality industry, plus 25 years in Registered Training Organisations (RTOs).

Not only has Ms Gillespie gained this experience, but she is also a qualified trainer and assessor for the hospitality industry and businesses services, holding dual Diplomas in Training and Adult Education, Advanced Diploma of Hospitality Management, and Diploma of Leadership and Management.

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Robinson College has been operating for around 22 years as a not-for-profit RTO.

Ms Gillespie points out the College provides a range of training opportunities In language, literacy and numeracy, aged care qualifications, hospitality skills and knowledge training, heavy machinery, including licensed courses such as Fork Lift, Dogman, White Card and much more.

Robinson College also, “boasts 100% employment outcomes for their Aged Care training alone,” Ms Gillespie says, which is certainly impressive for any training organisation.

Over the past 18 years, Ms Gillespie has also managed businesses that have needed to develop and implement quality training and assessment systems, or business and marketing plans.

“It is so pleasing to observe students learning new skills and then being able to demonstrate those new skills in the workplace,” she says.

“Even better is when the new skills and certificates earned can bring meaningful employment, or perhaps a promotion or a pathway to a career.

“One of the greatest challenges was to maintain the viability of the business during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Staff hours were reduced as student numbers declined. We needed to pursue innovative ways to diversify the business while still engaging students.”

Those innovations include introducing online learning programs, the option of distance learning education, and the delivery and collection of assessment papers from the homes of students, to provide additional flexibility for students.

The benefits and challenges that Ms Gillespie notes certainly reflect a changing business environment and culture.

“What remains constant is an ever-changing environment,” says Ms Gillespie.

“The only thing that stays the same, is the fact that nothing stays the same.

“The main thing to remember is always put your customers at the heart of everything you do. Offer services that you yourself would be happy with. Don’t forget quality and care.”

PHOTO: Ellen Gillespie, Robinson College CEO.

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