Every year, Guardian presents the highly coveted “Centre Manager of the Year” award to the Centre Manager who has been absolutely exceptional in their role. This year we had two inspirational women take out this title: Simone Azzopardi from Point Cook and Alexi McMahon-Hide from Pascoe Vale. Last week we interviewed Simone (read the interview here) and this week we focus on Alexi.
From her former life as a chef to swimming with whales in Tonga, we take two minutes with Alexi to find out a bit more about her, both professionally and personally.
Tell us a bit about your career background.
I originally trained as a chef and enjoyed working in the hospitality industry for many years, I loved the fast-paced dynamic of the job always keeping me on my toes but the hours were so long and unsocial so I decided I needed a change of career.
Why did you decide to pursue early childhood education?
I was really unsure about what I wanted to do because hospitality was all I’d ever really known. I chanced upon an advertisement for a traineeship in early years education and decided to give it a go. I was lucky enough to be offered the opportunity to work with Claire Penno at Pascoe Vale, so here I am now, working in one of Guardian’s biggest centres and loving being a part of this team and finding new challenges every day.
I was surprised by how challenging and dynamic this job was and I absolutely loved it. After I finished my traineeship I moved on to work as casual assistant for Guardian at Smith Street. I loved the family quality of the team there and really grew as an educator with Nilu Sayani and the team. A year after joining the team at Smith Street I found myself helping out in the office while the CM was away and got a taste for bigger challenges. During that time I had the support of Claire Penno who was my lifeline when I was unsure of how to do something.
How long have you been at Pascoe Vale for?
I have worked at Pascoe Vale for almost two years now – I still love the big community here, it’s really diverse and interesting. I especially enjoy getting to know everyone and their stories.
What’s something at Pascoe Vale you’re really proud of?
Over the years there has been a lot of change and a lot of challenges at this Centre and it is exciting to see how far the team have come. We have educators at Pascoe Vale who have worked here for years since it opened and I am inspired to see their continued willingness to learn, grow and rise up to new challenges. The team are always bettering themselves and work together to achieve great outcomes for children and families. I am proud to be a part of this team and I am proud of the amazing work that they do.
And some personal questions…
Where’s one place in the world you’d love to travel to?
I’d love to travel to Cuba, I think it would be really interesting to see before it changes forever.
What’s your signature dish?
I love to cook and I don’t have a favourite dish to make but I would to eat Thai food and have never quite perfected any dishes!
What’s something that most people don’t know about you?
Most people don’t know that I have been swimming with whales. I travelled to Tonga a few years ago and was fortunate enough to meet a mother humpback whale and her calf. It was an experience I will never forget!
To meet Alexi and the team at Pascoe Vale, book yourself in for a tour here.