Colo High School

Introducing Jim

Schools Industry Partnership, Vanessa Perkins

Introducing Jim,

It’s been 27 years since Jim Balchin stepped onto the grounds of Colo High School, South West of Sydney in the Hawkesbury Area. Last time he travelled on the school bus, this time he drove himself down the long school drive-way. Yesterday, Jim volunteered with Inspiring the Future Australia as an ‘Industry Guest’ for our Year 11 ‘Future in Focus’ workshop. Many milestones have happened for Jim since he left Colo High School, he is now a husband, father of two and currently a Senior Civil Designer with J. Wyndham Prince in Penrith. Jim was involved in the ‘Industry Conversations’ session to share his unique and authentic career story. And let me tell you, Jim’s career journey is real, genuine, interesting and engaging.

However, Jim was just one of 15 Industry Guests who captivated students with their career journey and industry insights. Authenticity and student engagement is at the heart of the small student group conversations.

We believe the authenticity, engagement and impact comes from our strategy to intentionally keep the industry conversations unscripted.

When we reach out to Industry Guests to get involved, we ask this question, “would you like to share your career journey to inspire young Australians?” the Industry Guest most commonly responds with “do I need to do a presentation?” our answer is clearly “No”.

For our Industry Guests, our brief is simple, “share your career journey, the ups and downs, the twists and turns with occupational insights throughout.” We continue to say, “the students will ask you questions and you just let the conversation evolve from there.”

Key student learnings from the session are never written on a presentation slide, again intentionally, this learning is not black and white. Rather, we view our workshops as an intrinsic paradigm shift for young people.

Our mission is for students to walk away from our workshops with motivation, clearly knowing that they too have the power to carve their own unique career journey in life after school.

In 27 years, just like Jim, let’s hope that one of the Year 11 students from yesterday may return to Colo High School to share their career journey!


Thank you to our wonderful Industry Guests for supporting our program and in turn providing this invaluable experience for young people.

Evan Frost – Multiple restaurant owner

Sarah Cassim – Sarah Cassim Consultancy and Founder, Hawkesbury Women in Business

David Montgomery – CEO, Scaffad Signage

Todd Percy – Barcats, Hospitality recruitment IT platform

Karina Penfolds - Coleman Greig Lawyers

Aaron Biega – The Business Badger

Dallas Hagelburg – Owner of SAABI Collective Hairdressing

Jud Haines – NSW, Fire and Rescue and Butcher

Dr Kathleen Graham – This Vet – Specialising in animal opthamology

Jeff Wouters – Owner of Norton Homes and Development

Bianca Santucci – Owner, Barking with Bianca

Jum Balchin - Senior Civil Designer/Engineer, J.Wyndham Prince

Suzanne Heft, Owner, Heft Creations, Private Chef

Nathan Rose – Radio Producer and media TAFE teacher

Sebastian Galvez – Wise Employment, Community and Employment Consultant

Maligi Tupuola – Wise Employment, Community and Employment Consultant

It was an absolute pleasure for Vanessa and I to host this workshop for Year 11 students at Colo High School. A huge thank you to Career Adviser, Alana McNair, the Executive team, student Alex for the Acknowledgment of Country and of course Graham who set the room up perfectly, such a team effort.