The A Team

If you’re returning to school or work this week, then good luck! If it’s a week of firsts for you like it is in my family, then I will be thinking of you.

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Lunching at Hunter Lane Cafe last week

I started my new job in the La Trobe Alumni and Advancement Office last week and my head is still spinning. It will take me some time to get myself up to speed but already my remit is fairly clear – increasing engagement with Young Alumni (FYI graduate = alumni) as they transition from first, second and third year University students to their first 3 – 5 years post-graduation and helping them on their employment journey in particular – a big focus for me will be work integrated learning (internships and other work experience) and mentoring as well as promoting the Alumni Benefits program which includes exclusive access to LinkedIn Learning for La Trobe Alumni – short online courses to help you skill up quickly and in your own time.

It’s a new portfolio but one that makes a lot of sense and I’m hoping to hit the ground running given I’m already internal – it’s made things a lot easier being familiar with systems and processes as well as people and if you are starting out, mid-career or well entrenched in your chosen career – the power of the network is something that will stand you in good stead. Don’t be afraid to reach out for a coffee and chat with someone new – most people are happy to give you 30-60 minutes of their time.

I work in a fantastic Alumni Relations team who look after alumni in Australia and internationally from Young Alumni (generally graduates Under 35 years) to those with the honour of being awarded Distinguished Alumni. I also work with colleagues in the fundraising (or development) area who work with donors (who may or may not be alumni) looking at philanthropy, grants, bequests and other donations to the University and stewardship of those who have donated their time or money to worthy causes such as scholarships and life-saving or life changing research. It’s a fascinating area if you’re interested in the giving space and collectively Alumni and Fundraising (Development) is known as Advancement. A specialist data services team also supports both areas in my office so it will take me a little while to meet everyone and deepen my understanding of what they do and how all the pieces fit together.

I knew most of the people in my current area before applying for my role and that was part of the allure for me – known quantities whose good reputations preceded them and that’s been reinforced for me now working in that team. Natural affinity isn’t something that can be manufactured but is so important in the work force and in life in terms of ongoing relationships.

In my first week on the job I also managed to have three work lunches locally with my first ever team lunch being held at the aptly named The A Team Kitchen in Watsonia (run by the former owners of Miss Marie Cafe in Rosanna), Hunter Lane Cafe (now with new owners but staff have remained) as well as The Pioneer Cafe in Rosanna – none of which were here when I moved into the area just over 10 years ago. It’s been a welcome change and a sign of the times. I’m very glad to have joined the A team! Have a great week.

 

Picture perfect

The Thornbury Picture House movie theatre and bar has just opened in the north and I’m so excited there is another place to go around here.   I love that there is a bar attached for those who may just want a drink and it will be a great addition to the area with Palace Westgarth not far away in Northcote.  I also went to the Palace Balwyn cinema not that long ago and it was also good to see that that cinema has also been renovated with a new bar area in keeping with the whole Art Deco feel.  The Spanish Film Festival at Palace Cinemas starts on 17 April if you’re a fan of all things Latino.

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Image via Hunter Lane Cafe

Mother’s Day is also upon us next month and I have already made a family booking at Hunter Lane Cafe in Rosanna which is running a number of sittings from 7.30 am – 1 pm in the afternoon.  Be quick if you want to book as they were already running out of room for larger groups.  Apparently tradies and spectators have replaced the usual punters at the cafe with the Rosanna Level Crossing almost complete and it is an official viewing station.

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Mo Wyse – Smith & Daughters image via Bold Thinking Series

Speaking of food, I’m gearing up for my lecture next Wednesday night on the rise of veganism – we’re at over 300 people and I am expecting the lecture to sell out so again, book your tickets now if you want to come along!  I’ve got a number of friends and family who are going and it was also interesting to see Smith & Daughters listed in Broadsheet as one of the vegetarian restaurants to visit in Melbourne – I did a quick count and realised I’d been to 7 places on the list so maybe I’m a vegetarian in waiting.  Have a great weekend!

Nb. Miss Rosanna is sponsored by Hunter Lane Cafe

 

 

A blaze of glory

The lady in red, aka Shaynna Blaze didn’t disappoint at today’s sold out Banyule Women in Business Lunch at The Centre Ivanhoe.  I missed last year’s lunch with keynote speaker Mia Freedman due to La Trobe University celebrating its 50th Anniversary that same day but was glad to make it to today’s event.  It was different in style to previous events I’ve been to in that it was a more casual conversation on the couch with a host instead of a more formal solo address from a lectern.

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L-R: Jane Lindsay-Waschl, Renae Barrass, Shaynna Blaze and me

After some minor technical hitches which Shaynna handled with aplomb, the discussion was a good one giving us insights into her professional journey from having run successful businesses with her then husband in her twenties along with raising two children, becoming a single parent and working as a jazz singer (and band booking agent/PR) to supplement her interior design income to being tapped on the shoulder and asked to audition for Selling Houses Australia, before having Channel 9 approach her to be a judge on The Block.  Selling Houses Australia is Foxtel’s number one show and has run for 11 years, which is a huge amount of time in media land.  It’s nice to see someone so down to earth and likeable enjoy such success.

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L-R: Nikki Ellis, me and Dani Ahimastos

I’d assembled a table including my two blog sponsors, Dani Ahimastos from Hunter Lane Cafe and Nikki Ellis from Cinch Training and other friends including interior designer Renae Barrass, Jane Lindsay-Waschl from Admonter Floors and ceramic artist Lene Kuhl-Jakobsen.  Banyule Business run some great events if you are a small business owner and I was asked to do a filmed vox pop after the event which will appear sometime soon on their Facebook page.  It’s already been a long week for me so I hope I managed to cobble something half way decent to say!

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Shaynna on stage – The Centre Ivanhoe

I’ve spent quite a bit of time in the local area over the past week including grabbing takeaway coffee from SixtyFive Espresso (who sell Brunetti pastries and cakes) at Greensborough Plaza to a bowling party at Oz Tenpin in nearby Bundoora.  There’s also a bit happening locally with Andrew Potocnik’s #urbansalvage #zero waste exhibition opening at Bulleen Art & Garden’s Bolin Bolin gallery tonight and the Heide Makers Market in Bulleen on Saturday.

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Oz Tenpin Bowling – Bundoora

I also picked up a brochure for the Holi Festival of Colours which is taking place at Bundoora Park this Saturday if you are staying in Melbourne for the Labour Day weekend.  I don’t know about you but I’ve had my foot to the floor since returning to work in early January and am definitely looking forward to a break this weekend.  Enjoy.img_7012.jpg

Eat, play, love

It’s been a limp to the finish line this year and I hope you may be feeling less weary than me.  I have had a very productive year but also feel that all I’ve done is work, and there is more to life than work!  I’m lucky enough to enjoy what I do in the main and to be able to make a living from it, which is more than I can say for some people.  There are a large number of younger people with university degrees, often way more qualified than me, who find it incredibly hard to find secure employment and I have people who send me unsolicited CVs on a regular basis looking for a break.  If you are an employer, please consider taking on someone inexperienced but with the right attitude, who is prepared to work their way up.

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I also think it’s important to feel like you can be yourself in the workplace as much as we all have our professional personas, which is what being ‘authentic’ is all about.  I dislike that this word is bandied about as something outside of ourselves when its meaning is the exact opposite!  Perhaps people are too afraid of revealing their inner selves sometimes for fear that people may not like them but I often tell my children to just be themselves and as I’ve grown older, I find it refreshing to meet people who have a very natural sense of ease and openness about themselves, rather than holding up any fronts.

I’ve also become far less concerned about what other people think about me (particularly those who don’t really know me) and more concerned about what I think of myself, the things I enjoy doing, the people I like to spend my time with and what gives me a sense of peace and belonging.  I think beyond having good health, a sense of meaning in life comes from social contact, friendship and connection.  Building and maintaining relationships with the people you care about is the most important thing and I’ve said this a number of times on my blog.  Work is work, but at the end of the day, it’s the people we come back to at home and in our social life and community, that make it all worthwhile and with whom we should share the best part of ourselves.

It’s been interesting for me too, to explore what younger people are concerned about; mental illness, gender & sexuality, male privilege, climate change and sustainability, refugees and Indigenous rights, generational differences in terms of jobs, housing and the whole gamut of related issues (don’t bring up smashed avocado with Millennials) – they are a thoughtful bunch and some of these things will be covered in my Bold Thinking Series lectures next year, as well as more right-wing topics.

I have actually started exhaling and thinking about other things besides work (!) and I hope you have too.  I am extremely grateful to many people out there including my sponsors, Nikki Ellis from Cinch Training in Macleod as well as Dani and Dennis Ahimastos from Hunter Lane Cafe in Rosanna – please support local businesses if you can over the summer break.  For anyone who has helped me personally or professionally this year – thank you too – it has meant a lot to me and you know who you are.  I’ll be taking a break over the next couple of weeks but wanted to wish you a safe and happy festive season – take care, enjoy the food and remember to have some fun with those you love.  All work and no play…well you know what they say!

Funicular fun

Ah yes…I just wanted to use that word funicular…it’s actually the clever contraption that Mr Rosanna and I are in (below) that his builder Uncle Peter has made for his spectacular cliff house on the river near the city.  This is us on Christmas night for the annual seafood dinner extravaganza which they hosted last year.img_5263I have been eating my way around the place these past few weeks.  If you’re ever in the eastern suburbs, Town & Country on Whitehorse Road in Balwyn is well worth a visit.  The cafe does great food and the nursery and retail shop next door sell some really beautiful homewares if you are looking to re-decorate  or update your house this summer.img_5258As a family, we’ve also done a number of local cafes including Hunter Lane in Rosanna where we grabbed a booth table looking out onto the railway.  It’s a really great addition to the area.  Funky Brewster is still closed until next week but I am looking forward to paying it a visit once it re-opens.img_5257We also popped in for a quick lunch at East Ivy in East Ivanhoe – again grabbing a booth table near the kitchen.  Both places do good food which needs a little bit of tweaking but I’m not complaining – the menus are much better than your average suburban fare and the service was excellent.img_5259I spent this morning out at Bundoora Homestead Art Centre with my friend ceramic artist Lene Kuhl Jakobsen having a look at the Verdant Garden exhibition and Victorian Quilters Inc. show Regeneration – needless to say I’m always drawn to the works that feature flowers and plants (see above quilt images).  Unfortunately, upstairs was closed for maintenance due to storm damage but this should be fixed soon if you’re planning a visit.  Lene and I had coffees and devonshire tea in the stunning cafe setting (the scones are enormous so you can share one between two) currently featuring artwork by local artists Siri Hayes and Kate Hudson.  It was a beautiful way to spend the morning.img_5260For those of you lucky enough to still be away at the beach on holidays, I am jealous!  I’m going to try to make the most of my last weekend before going back to work next week.  Have a good one.img_5261

Nb. Miss Rosanna is a Bundoora Homestead Art Centre Board member