Deciding what you want to be when you grow up and how you’re going to do it is one of life’s biggest struggles. People always say to follow your dreams, like that’s something easy to do, or as if your dreams are always going to be economically viable; a lot of the time we defer to university almost as a safe choice. Then there are the others that actually stuck to their passions and made a heck of a living out of it.
While it’s certainly not a requirement to go to TAFE NSW if you want to be famous, you could easily be led to believe that this was the case by reading the below list. From fashion designers to Oscar winners, to footy players and even a Prime Minister, these Aussies are crystal-clear proof that you don’t need to go to uni to have a storied and successful career.
Alex Perry – Fashion Designer
Arguably Australia’s most prominent fashion designer, Alex Perry had his start at the East Sydney Technical College (now known as TAFE NSW Fashion Design Studio). He opened his first atelier in 1992 before launching his own self-titled collection. His clothes have been worn by the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, Miranda Kerr and Jennifer Hawkins. He has also appeared on heaps of TV shows such as Australia’s Next Top Model and Project Runway Australia.
Matt Moran – Celebrity Chef
Matt Moran credits TAFE NSW as a huge positive influence on his professional development during his formative years. He started studying Commercial Cookery at TAFE NSW in 1986. Apart from instilling in him a sense of discipline and work ethic, Moran learnt essential foundations of cooking which he has built upon to become one of Australia’s leading chefs and a Masterchef Australia regular.
Catherine Martin – Costume Designer & Oscar Winner
Catherin Martin has had a brilliant career in costume design, production design, and art direction, culminating in four Oscars for her work in Moulin Rouge! and The Great Gatsby, as well five BAFTAs and a Tony Award. She actually holds the record for the most Oscars won by any Australian, which is no small feat for someone who started her career studying pattern cutting at TAFE NSW.
Scott Cam – TV Personality, Host of The Block
Scott Cam’s path to success started with a carpentry apprenticeship at his brother’s business. He then spent the next five years travelling around Australia, working at cattle stations, doing carpentry work, and building boats. Several years after returning to Sydney and starting a business, he was approached at the pub for a screen test, starting his career in television. By applying his knowledge in carpentry to his tv personality, he went on to become a host on Backyard Blitz and The Block. In 2014 he won a Gold Logie for Most Popular Personality on Australian Television.
Nicky Zimmerman – Owner & Designer at Zimmermann
She is one half of the internationally-renowned fashion brand Zimmermann, and the creative force behind all their iconic designs. As another graduate of East Sydney Technical College, she joins the vanguard of prominent alumni that establishes TAFE NSW Fashion Design Studio as a hotspot for upcoming talent (other grads include Akira Isogawa, Lisa Ho & Romance Was Born). Nicky began selling clothes from a stall at Paddington Markets and has gone on to flagship stores in New York and Los Angeles,
Other notable TAFE NSW alumni include: Donna Hay (Celebrity Chef), Jennifer Hawkins (Model), Adam Goodes (AFL Player and former Australian of the Year), Rose Byrne (Actress from Bridesmaids, Bad Neighbours & Spy), Ben Gillies, Chris Joanou and Daniel Johns (members of Silverchair), Gai Waterhouse (horse trainer and businesswoman), Brendan ‘Jonesy’ Jones (Jonesy & Amanda), Paul Keating (Australian Prime Minister) and Ita Buttrose (Journalist and TV Personality).
Some of the most celebrated Aussies got their start at TAFE NSW thanks to the strong, practical training that fostered their passions and gave them the real-world skills they needed to succeed. If you’re keen to follow in their footsteps, sus out TAFE NSW for more information about courses you can study – including career-focused bachelor degrees. Get the deets or register your interest here.