Meet Shirley: the backbone of our team at Geodetica

When her husband (Jason Vella) decided to launch Geodetica back in 2016, Shirley was extremely optimistic. Despite having her own successful career in the education sector for almost three decades, she could certainly see its potential – not least because of Jason’s passion and vision for its future.

“At the time I was working for University in Canberra, travelling 3 months out of every year to develop partnerships and oversee recruitment events for potential overseas students. The education sector is Australia’s second largest export industry after iron ore, and I was committed to helping overseas students find Canberra as the ideal destination to complete their studies.

“We had a young family though, and the travel was taking its toll. So when we talked about Jason starting Geodetica, I decided to join him in an administrative capacity so both the company and family would have the space and time they needed to grow.”

Born in Jakarta, Shirley herself had first experienced Australia as an international student at Australian National University. She then went on to work in the education division of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, where she recounts working with some great Australians, before deciding to migrate here permanently and landed a role at the Canberra Institute of Technology.

“After CIT I moved across to the University of Canberra where I stayed for 14 years managing the international office. Our focus was attracting students from more than 25 different countries; inviting them to choose Canberra over the larger cities and see what a beautiful place it is to live, study and work. It’s exciting to see the massive increase in international education in Canberra over the past decade, because it contributes so much to the local economy and the people who come here.”

Now as Geodetica’s Business Manager, Shirley brings her business development skills to the fore in a different way that she says is also highly rewarding.

“A lot of hard work has gone into the development of Geodetica, especially from a culture perspective. Jason attracts likeminded people so everyone who comes onboard is very committed and shares the same values. We both know that if you surround yourself with good people, the rest will follow.

“It’s my job to make sure they have everything they need to do their best work, and feel at their best while they’re doing it. Family values are still central to us as a company, and we pride ourselves on caring about everyone beyond the skills they bring to the table.”

When she’s not working, Shirley loves to keep fit and surround herself with engaging people.

“As I get older, I see how important it is to take care of yourself. We often neglect it in our younger years, but finding balance is vital. I love Zumba and yoga, and anything to do with people and culture – such as spending time with friends, making new friends, eating out, and travelling.

“Supporting myself, and those around me, to achieve our goals is where I find my greatest rewards in life.”

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