With more than 10 years steering the direction of Sunraysia Institute of TAFE (SuniTAFE), current Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Geoff Dea, has announced his June 2023 retirement date to all staff.
Following a long and successful career as a public accountant in Mildura, Geoff joined the Board of SuniTAFE in 2011 and was appointed CEO in 2016.
Neth Hinton, Chair of SuniTAFE’s Board, reflects on Geoff’s time as CEO - commenting that his leadership has been marked by many high points, including achieving state and national recognition as the Large Training Provider of the Year in 2019.
“This was a huge accolade for one of the country’s smallest and more remotely located TAFE’s,” said Ms Hinton. “The awards recognised the determined changes and improvements Geoff led at SuniTAFE, to forge links between businesses and students and ensure a job-ready workforce capable of adapting to the future needs of industry.”
“To further reinforce the capability of SuniTAFE students, Geoff facilitated an Institute-wide focus on obtaining grants and investing in improved infrastructure, equipment, and technology,” Ms Hinton added. “This investment has been made to ensure the ongoing relevance of training, using state-of-the-art equipment, and meeting the standards expected by industry.”
“Overall, there have been many reasons for the Board to be proud of the work Geoff has achieved, especially in light of some of the harder decisions he has made to ensure the sustainability of the Institute and its relevance to regional progress” said Ms Hinton.
One of the early initiatives of Geoff’s tenure was to sharpen SuniTAFE’s focus on delivering courses most needed by industry in the region. This has proven to be a successful move, with regular state-wide conducted surveys now placing SuniTAFE consistently at the top end benchmark for student and employer satisfaction when compared across the 12 other Victorian TAFE’s.
“When you stop to think about it, SuniTAFE impacts the life of everyone in this region,” said Geoff. “With SuniTAFE being over 40 years old, our legacy and our graduates are literally everywhere… in transport, logistics, health, community, business, IT, horticulture, conservation, trades, arts, beauty, hospitality and much more.”
Geoff is a SuniTAFE alumni himself, having studied accounting there when he was 28 years old.
“To have had the opportunity to study locally at SuniTAFE, and build a livelihood that would lead me to the helm of the very same place I learned from, has been a career highlight for me,” said Geoff. “Studying at SuniTAFE certainly changed my life.”
Among the successes of his time as CEO, Geoff also reflects on the challenges. Prominent among them were the trials faced during the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns. Adapting quickly to an online learning and remote working environment involved enormous effort, coordinated in rapid time to maintain continuity and support for staff, industry, and students.
“The achievements during my time at SuniTAFE have only been possible as a result of the efforts of the committed and passionate teachers and staff that work at SuniTAFE every day,” said Geoff.
“I truly believe we are in the business of changing lives at SuniTAFE and I am extremely honoured to have worked with the Board, leadership team, and staff in a sector so important to the success of our region and the wellbeing of our community.”
Geoff maintains a strong and an ongoing commitment to the region, which he will continue to call home in his retirement. He is currently on the Board of Mallee Family Care, Mildura Regional Development, and the Northern Mallee Local Learning Employment Network.
“I’ve got family, friends, a boat, a trumpet, and a set of golf clubs" said Geoff when considering what retirement will look like. “While I will continue to contribute to the region wherever I can, I’m also looking forward to taking some time out to enjoy life at a steadier pace.”
The recruitment of the new CEO for SuniTAFE will commence shortly.