Caring teachers and a supportive adult learning environment helped turn self-confessed bad student Andrew Ferry into a successful small business owner.
As he tells it: ‘I was not a very good kid in school, I was a bit troubled and school wasn’t really my thing, you know sitting in a classroom.
‘I wasn’t always the best in terms of behaviour and coming to school on time. A bunch of things made it very hard for me to see clearly what I wanted to do or become, career wise.
Then I got into the VCAL Year 12 program, and it was like school but it gave me the opportunity to have adult conversations about what’s going to happen after, which I don’t think mainstream schools really do.’
At the Heidelberg campus studying VCAL (Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning) Andrew learned business management, IT, interpersonal development, maths, history and literacy.
‘I put a lot of my focus into business management because even back then I was thinking I can apply this to multiple things outside of school,’ he says.
‘Management and organisation is key to a lot of aspects in life. I’ve worked that out the hard way not the easy way but I’m glad I learnt it’.
Andrew says ‘one of the Year 12 teachers, Christina Praizes, really helped me. I could just tell that she was listening to me, and that actually made me want to make her happy by getting good marks. With that little bit of extra effort she put in, and the fact she gave not only me but every student a little bit of extra time, helped me excel to where I'm at today.’
Andrew now runs his own energy company called Auswide Energy and Solar Solutions, which helps clients find better deals to meet their energy requirements.
The idea for his business came via a plumbing apprenticeship, started straight after VCAL, which he opted to not complete as it wasn’t his passion. It did, however, bring him into contact with the kinds of people who he could see needed help with their energy bills and with the industry professionals who had the expertise and connections to provide that help.
‘So I met some people who had a lot of experience in the solar power industry and liaised with them for months on end learning the ins and outs of their trade and how they help people save money,’ Andrew says.
‘From there it just went boom.’
He now has customers in Melbourne, across Victoria, and in Perth and South Australia – ‘we don’t advertise, we’ve got all of our work through word of mouth.’
Andrew reckons the secret to finding success when you don’t really know what you want to do is to ‘focus your attention on finding your passion, do something in this world that makes you happy and satisfied at the end of the day’.
‘The money will come. You just have to start somewhere. Despite Andrew not being ‘into’ plumbing, it was his pathway to his current success.
‘As I grew older, two three years after, I realised “hold on a second I can’t do this forever even if I’m on ten million dollars a year”.
‘If you don’t like what you are doing, what's the point of doing it, to me it seems like you are wasting time.
‘Life’s a gamble and if you don’t take a risk in finding something that you'd like to do, well then you’re always going to be stuck.’
Find out more about our VCAL programs here.