Career 180, Global Adventures & 2 Graduate Diplomas with RPL

Operational Superintendent and Rail Specialist, Brent Kara turned his career experience into two Graduate Diplomas through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) with Churchill Education! In the following story Brent outlines his extensive mining career experience from Sierra Leone to WA, finding out about RPL from his neighbour, a Churchill Alumni, and wishing he’d known about it sooner! 

Brent Kara - Graduate Diplomas

Based on the work examples he was able to provide, Brent achieved our two highest qualifications: BSB80320 Graduate Diploma of Strategic Leadership and BSB80220 Graduate Diploma of Portfolio Management through RPL. (Higher than Bachelor’s degree!)

Are you curious to find out what qualifications you might be eligible for based on your career experience? Book a free RPL appraisal

Brent’s Early Career Story

Brent started his career as a police officer in New Zealand. After 15 years, having witnessed the worst of humanity and many tragic events, he said he’d, “had enough.”

He was on the lookout for a completely different career; something that would allow him to explore the world and scratch his travel itch.

Little did he know that this short stint as a train controller would be his ticket to a new career and global adventures.

New Career in Western Australia

In 2004, on a whim, he applied for a job in Western Australia with BHP Billiton. They flew him over for an interview, having identified his unique combination of rail experience and policing.

“Moving to Port Hedland from New Zealand was quite a culture shock for me, my wife and two young sons!” he said.

From here Brent kept developing his skills and competencies across a range of job roles within the rail operations team, while always looking for opportunities to advance.

Building railways in Sierra Leone

Fast forward to 2010 and an opportunity arose to work on the Tonkolili Iron Ore Project in Sierre Leone, West Africa. Brent was offered a rail operational leadership role to refurbish and extend a mothballed railway network.

The project was to include getting operationally ready to operate maintenance and revenue rail traffic between a new iron ore mine and the port.

This was an adventure that was too good to pass up!

Over the next couple of years Brent worked FIFO from Perth to Sierra Leone. He was involved in the creation of the operational strategy, managed the rail operation and safeworking from construction through to steady state, plus developing the skills and networks necessary to communicate the impending operation to all those working in and living around the project.

Safety for the workers and the community was his number one priority and he had to create innovative demonstrations to make sure that everyone wore helmets, steel capped boots, and safety glasses while working in such a high-risk environment.

Papua New Guinea then back to WA

His next career adventure led him to the highlands of Papua New Guinea to a gold mine where he took on a project leadership role, where the scope was to design and implement a capability and development framework that aided the vocational development of the national employees.

In 2014 Brent was offered an operational leadership role back in Western Australia working on the Roy Hill Iron Ore Greenfields Project in the Pilbara. In recent times he has moved to an operational readiness leadership role with Rio Tinto.

A chat with his neighbour about Recognition of Prior Learning

A casual chat with his neighbour, a Churchill Alumni, introduced Brent to the idea of RPL and how Churchill Education could help him gain the formal qualifications that his experience deserved and his career needed.

Brent worked with Skills Recognition Advisor – Sarah Reilly to get an understanding of the RPL process and the simple steps involved in getting qualified.

As Brent was used to creating entire ‘greenfield’ projects, and documenting the process, he had an entire suite of work examples that he was able to share with Churchill’s RPL assessors.

Brent wasn’t sure he was even at a graduate diploma level, so to hear that he was eligible for not one but two graduate diplomas was an immensely rewarding moment for him.

“I’m not sure why it took me so long to finally get my qualifications. I wish I’d done it earlier,” he shared.

Find out what you are eligible for

Thanks to his neighbour and Churchill Alumni, he now has two of our highest qualifications, and future employers can be wowed not only by his impressive experience but also by his high level qualifications.

National qualifications serve as a benchmark of skill and experience which can equate to promotions, increases in salary and new career opportunities.

This is why we created the Alumni Referral Rewards program, because as Brent mentioned, there are still so many Australians who do not know about RPL.

The impact of a mentor

Brent counts himself lucky to have had a great mentor in his career that not only treated him like family but also created a legacy of care and giving for those that he led.

In achieving his two graduate diplomas, Brent hopes he has inspired both his sons to ensure that they keep building and developing their skills while also increasing their career capital with qualifications along the way.

“We’re here to share what we’ve learned, our experience and our wisdom and to pass it on to help the next generations,” he shared.

If you would like to find out what qualifications you are eligible for, you can arrange a free qualification appraisal via any of the contact options listed below.

Spotlight on: Diploma of WHS

Demand for WHS professionals continues to rise, making this one of our most popular qualifications.

Turn your career experience into qualifications with Recognition of Prior Learning.  Apply for a free assessment today!

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