Lecturer story: Ursula is helping hospitality students carve their own career path
For lecturer, Ursula Alexander, hospitality hasn’t just been a career – it’s been a lifelong passion.
Upon completion of her studies in her home country of Singapore, she landed a job at the prestigious Hyatt Regency (now Grand Hyatt Singapore). There, she assisted in the hotel chain’s expansion within the Australian market. “I was selected to work on the openings of two hotels in Australia. I worked on the opening of the Hyatt in Melbourne and in Adelaide,” she says.
Eventually, Ursula’s hospitality career took her to Darwin, where she ran a hotel for one of her long time clients. While there, she took an interest in helping local university students, particularly international students.
A professional turning point
It wasn’t long until Ursula secured a teaching position at Charles Darwin University and kick started her career in lecturing. “I started teaching in the evenings while still working at the hotel. I was teaching casually for a while before making the very big decision to come out of the hospitality industry and go into teaching,” she shares.
Whilst working at the University, Ursula continued on her own study journey. She completed a Bachelor of Teaching, an Associate Degree in Education, and a Postgraduate Diploma of Business.
After more than a decade in Darwin, Ursula moved to Perth where she began working with
South Metropolitan TAFE as a lecturer. At the same time, she also completed a Master of Professional Marketing at Edith Cowan University, further honing her hospitality marketing craft.
Having worked with South Metropolitan TAFE for the last 23 years, Ursula has developed a long and impressive resume. She is now a coordinator for the
SIT50416 Diploma of Hospitality Management and the
SIT60316 Advanced Diploma of Hospitality Management. She also lectures in hospitality, commercial cookery, patisserie and event management.
Ursula’s particular areas of interest include the fields of marketing, finance, leadership and management within the hospitality sphere. “One of my main focuses is business networking,” she explains. “I’m very passionate about making sure that students get to meet as many people as possible. I introduce students to various industry members to get them started in networking.”
Hands-on learning and industry connections
Ursula also highlights that students enrolled in hospitality courses at South Metropolitan TAFE will significantly benefit from the lecturers’ industry expertise. By learning from industry experts, she says, students will gain a better understanding of the realities of the sector.
“Ninety per cent of us have come from industry and offer years of experience and knowledge. So, I think that’s a really good learning environment for students.”
Bentley campus facilities, such as the on-campus Bentley Pines training restaurant, also enhance students’ learning experience, shares Ursula. “They gain all this experience in a real situation. They deal with whatever problems, whatever comments and compliments. It’s real. For us, that’s one of the highlights of studying here.”
The value of this hands-on experience hasn’t gone unnoticed by industry members, adds Ursula. Not only do they reach out to Ursula to recruit students for working positions, but they also jump at the opportunity to come to the campus to speak with students directly.
Ursula and her colleague, Tania Parnell, developed the Career Recruitment Day at Bentley campus. The event follows a career expo format, with several major hospitality organisations (such as Westin Hotels and Resorts and Marriott International) coming to the campus. There, they set up booths and discuss employment opportunities with students. Held twice a year, the Career Recruitment Day has had massive success in securing work for new TIWA graduates.
An exceptional learning environment for international students
According to Ursula, one of the biggest selling points for international students looking to study with TAFE International Western Australia (TIWA) is its rich diversity.
“In one of my courses, I have students from Hong Kong, China, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil and France. That diversity makes the classroom atmosphere much more interesting because everyone is learning from each other.”
She adds that the International Student Support Centre provides international students with the assistance and guidance needed to succeed in their studies and at work. It is these elements with seasoned staff members, outstanding facilities, networking opportunities – that make Ursula confident in the quality of education hospitality offered for students.
“Choosing to study at Bentley campus would be the best decision that students could make.”
To develop strong links with industry to succeed in the future employment market, choose TAFE International Western Australia (TIWA) for globally recognised courses delivered by dedicated lecturers with industry experience and connections. Check out the
wide range of courses that TIWA has to offer and
detailed information on the application process. You can
apply to study with TIWA by completing an online application.