About Jim IrwinJim Irwin is the Manager of Strategic Project Development for William Angliss and has worked in the Tourism and Hospitality Industry for the past 45 years.
Jim’s primary responsibilities are identifying and developing commercial opportunities both domestically and internationally and taking the Institute into contractual arrangements for the delivery of training and consultancy projects for the tourism and hospitality industry across the Asia Pacific region.
Jim commenced in the hotel sector, and trained across seven years at several properties including the Arkaba Adelaide, Parkroyal Melbourne, InterContinental Auckland and Hilton Melbourne concurrent with studies in catering management at William Angliss. He then went into the restaurant business owning and operating three successful businesses in Melbourne across a span of the next 30 years.
Jim moved into tourism and hospitality education and training along the way, and delivered vocational training in the TAFE sector for five years before becoming a lecturer in hospitality management at RMIT. Subsequently, as the manager of tourism and hospitality training for one of Australia’s largest TAFE Institutes he worked in partnership with William Angliss to take Australian tourism and hospitality training international.
For the past twenty years Jim has had a hands on role in the management and delivery of training projects and industry consultancy in the Asia Pacific region including:
• Hotel pre-opening training projects for new Sheraton properties in Thailand and Malaysia from 1995 to 1997
• Industry consultancy projects throughout Australia as well as in China, Taiwan, India, Viet Nam and Thailand
• Management of pre-opening training in China and Macau of 2,450 hotel staff for the Venetian Macau Resort Hotel in 2006 and 2007
• Establishment then management of the School of Tourism and Hospitality within the Australia-Pacific Technical College in Fiji from 2007 to 2011
• Management of William Angliss tourism projects for ASEAN from 2012 to the present
• Management of William Angliss training projects in Bahrain, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Thailand, Viet Nam, the Philippines, East Timor, PNG, Samoa and Macau
• Leading the Skills Assessment of chefs, cooks, bakers and pastry cooks throughout the Asia Pacific under a William Angliss contract with Trades Recognition Australia • Establishment of industry partnerships in Singapore with the William Angliss Continuing Education and Training Centre in 2011 and 2012
• Establishment with partners in Sri Lanka of the Colombo Academy of Hospitality Management in 2013, where our Australian trainers work with local counterparts to deliver William Angliss qualifications
Summary of the Interview
Interviewer: Vicky Qin
Interviewee: Jim Irwin
Date of Interview: 30/10/2014
Recording Format: MP3
||Studying at WAI
(What influences you to study at William Angliss?) I heard about William Angliss, I was working in Hospitality Industry and one of my bosses left the industry to come here as a teacher started in 72 (1972) and he said to me ‘Jim, working in industry and learning by experience is good, but you should also come to William Angliss and study and get a qualification, and you learn more and you build more solid foundation’. So I took his advice, I came in and I enrolled here at William Angliss in 72.
|0:52 – 1:28
||The Certificate of Catering
(What course were you doing?) The course that I started was fairly new at the time and it was (went for many years) called Certificate of Catering. And Certificate of Catering in those days was designed for people who worked full time in the industry and came here to study part time. It would normally takes perhaps four years to do part time…..(Did you do the four years part time?) I actually did some extra subjects and I worked a little harder and I got it done in three (three years).
|1:28 – 3:08
(What was the class like?) The Class was really good that…there were few mature aged students who might be in late 20’s and 30’s. But majority were early 20’s and working in the industry full time and coming here part time. So they were verily in strong motivated because…time pressures, they were working…they had their own commitments. When they came here, they came here to learn and…the attendance was really strong. Most of them worked in Hotels and Pubs. I worked in Hotels as in…I worked in Park Royal and I worked for a whole at the airport in a catering company. Most of them worked in Pub Groups. Pub Groups in those days were very good support William Angliss training. They used to send the young trainees to do this course here. The course I was doing was purely William Angliss Course, but there were quite a lot of full-time students here who were doing a course that was shared between William Angliss and Footscray Institute (what is now VU, it used to be Footscray Institute). And… I mentioned before some students I met here, people like Sarah Martia, she was doing Diploma Course, which was … the way I understand it in those days… she did most of theory components at Footscray and most of practical components here. Because William Angliss had kitchens and restaurants. So it was shared program.
|3:09 – 3:55
(When you got Certificate, is the certificate under the title of Footscray College?) I don’t think so. In fact, my certificate from here doesn’t even have William Angliss on it, it has Education Department of Victoria. Because in those days, William Angliss felt under the Education Department, because there was no TAFE system. So it was called in those days William Angliss Food Trades School.
|3:56 – 5:10
||Graduated from the school
(After you graduated from WAI, did you get a relevant job?) I was working before I came in. I worked full time whole time, I was in training here. But my major objective was I want to go to the business. I want to start a business and coming here was about learning how to run a business, learning the business aspect of Hospitality Business. So I could develop more confidence and more skills and knowledge when I came to run a business. So while I was here, I continued to work. As I was finishing, Hilton Hotel was opening in Melbourne, and I went over there and worked in the opening team. Within few months, through William Angliss, through my contacts here, my former teachers here, I was shown an opportunity to become a contact caterer in a golf club. I applied for that and got that. I worked for three years and that sort of gave me a bridge into buying a restaurant business. I went to restaurant business for 25 years after that.
|5:12 – 6:25
(You owned a restaurant business, how was it like?) It was great, was terrific. I think it was great time to be in the restaurant business. I really don’t envy people who are in the business now. It’s much tougher, highly competitive; there is a lot pressure on price. It was a lot easier to make good living in the restaurant business in 70’s and 80’s. But the restaurant business now is I believe is more open to everybody…nearly all of us going out very week whereas in those days, dining in restaurant was a special occasion was a bit expensive.
(Did you find the skills you learned from William Angliss that applied to your business very well?) Is very much so. As I said when I came here I already worked in the kitchen, I worked in the restaurant, worked in the bar and I had good working knowledge and I had settle skills but coming here was about building on the skills. So instead of being operative I can become a manager. I developed the skills and knowledge here to equip me better to run a successful business.
|6:26 – 7:31
||Working at WAI
(Later you came back to William Angliss and became a teacher, could you tell me more about it?) Actually, when I decided I want to start teaching about 15 years later in the 80’s, I applied William Angliss and at the same time, there was a job advertised at Box Hill College, and I applied there. TAFE was just being formed and there was a little bit of ambiguity about employment. And the job, Box Hill came first, and I applied for both, and I got that job and I started there. So I worked there for many years, I worked there for 27 years. And then, about three and half years ago I came here. And one of the main reasons I came here was this is Hospitality, Tourism and Foods which is what I means to, and the other colleges including Box Hill TAFE seem to me to be doubling down because of the government funding cuts and they were getting out of it. So this is where I want to be.
|7:35 – 9:39
||Good things about the WAI
(What do you like about the Institute? What inspires you?) What I really like about the Institute was the people. All of those people are now gone, many of them passed on but the others are retired. But they were inspired me. The chefs that were working here then just like the chefs working here now. They loved their trade, they were very passion about their trade, they’re very proud and they really…it’s just so obvious they enjoyed what they did. So when you went into one of the cookery classes, you had a chef instructor there, who just inspires you. I never ever missed a class, and I can say quite clearly and my memory is very strong of this, I don’t remember many students missing classes, absentees was very very low because people were motivated to come here, because every time you came into a class, you just get into something, doing something or learning something, developing new skills, new knowledge and in an atmosphere of hard work but also a bit of fun. You know, the chef at the front of people always had great sense of humour, great personality which is important for the hospitality industry. It was the people who worked here inspired me. The facilities were good nothing like they are today because it was much smaller college. It was just the red brick building, and the cunning wing at the back with Angliss Restaurant, those two and that was it. Other building where bakery and patisserie is they came up much later, and of course, Building A, Building B, Building C wasn’t even built. It was much smaller place, but the facilities were good, much smaller than now but it was the people, they had very strong background in industry and really strong knowledge of the trade. You can ask them questions just about anything anywhere in the world, they knew.
|9:40 – 10:28
||The People who made an inspiration
(Do you still have contacts with some of them?) Yes. The head of Food (department) was John Miller and of course there’s a John Miller Kitchen these days. He was here for the Cookery Group meetings. He was an inspiration. I once many years later travelled to Egypt and I was at Hilton, the Nile Hilton Hotel and I said to the staff there: ‘I’m from Melbourne and my teacher was John Miller’. And they said ‘Oh, John Miller, John Miller…’. This was so many years earlier, they remember him, because he was the executive Chef there. He made a lot of people like him that worked here just had the knowledge of the world.
|10:30 – 12:13
||The Current Job at WAI
(Tell me more about your current job; I know you are Manager of Strategic Project Development.) What I’m looking to do is to assist the Institute to find new business, new customers, new students, new ways of doing business. Here, it’s been a very challenge time for the Institute because of government funding cuts in the last few years. So more and more, we’re looking external to the Institute; we’re looking to find work internationally. (I knew you were in Thailand recently) That was part of ongoing series of projects for ASEAN, The Association of Southeast Asian Nations. That’s a project that Wayne Crosbie has cultivated and developed. And it has great relationships. It’s been going for more than ten years in various forms. Just the latest, a range of projects we’re working on, one of them involved training of master trainers for hospitality and tourism training. The first we ran this year was in Thailand back in September, finished early October. We started another one in Bali few weeks ago, it finishes tomorrow. So there’s a team there, John Horner, Judy De Bruin, Vicky Highland from Cape Town, they’re doing that one. And then, next month, later in the month, we start another one in Manila. With a team going over there to deliver more training there. The one I was on was about food production, chefs. Current one is front office one, and next one is food and beverage service.