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What you do matters: Vicki Guyer's retirement speech

Twenty-seven years ago I walked into Burgmann, thinking I could bring new ideas to the college. Then I started and was confronted with groups arriving for the April break and no staff, so there was no time for new ideas.

On the 30 May I will walk out of Burgmann knowing that, without a doubt, I am the one who is changed. I gave my best years to Burgmann and in return, you all gave me opportunities, challenges, and friendships that will remain intact for a long time. Thank you all for understanding my sense of humour and being there for the births of my grandchildren, weddings, house fires, and in good times and sad times. I want to thank the staff for widening my knowledge in so many areas, not all work-related.

I want to thank Sally and previous Principals, management and Council for allowing me to achieve goals in my education and complete a graduate degree. One thing I am proud of is organising courses through the Australian College of Management for each staff member to achieve their academic goals. I have to say, to see a staff member who thought higher education was not possible receive a certificate, especially working in a university college, was a proud moment for all.

I received a lovely message from a parent last week saying the college is built on a warm heart. So true. Please continue this in the coming years. The leaders are there to assist the employees and students to be able to achieve what they need to. I have had the privilege of getting to know the students and be a part of their lives for a short period. The old saying ‘the world is their oyster’ is so true. The college and staff should be proud every day to play a small part in the lives of these wonderful young adults.

You're probably all bracing yourselves for some profound retirement speech. If that's the case, I have one question for you: have you met me? Some days I cannot complete a sentence. I'm too happy to be profound, too relieved to make it to retirement to bestow any life advice upon you, and too old and tired to stand here for long, making a speech thanking all of you. So please just consider yourselves thanked.

Let's be real here; next week, while you’re enjoying morning tea, I'll be at home cleaning out my cupboard or at the beach drinking champagne (hopefully the latter). But no matter where I am or what I'm doing, I will not be at work. That's what retirement is, people. Thanks for all the fun over the years. Work isn't supposed to be fun, but somehow, we managed to have fun and still work to a high level of professionalism. Was it so much fun that I fear retirement? Yes and no, not really. There's ‘work fun’ and then there's ‘retirement fun’. Since I'm standing here giving my retirement speech, it's pretty obvious which fun I chose. Honestly, it's hard to stand up here and not just say, “I don't have to go to work tomorrow, next week, or ever.” But if my last work task must be to give a retirement speech, then here it is: I don't have to go to work tomorrow, next week, or ever from the 30 May.

Burgmann College has a bright future ahead of it. Even though I won’t be a contributing member to that future, I take solace in knowing that I had a hand in making it the family it is today – just as you all had a hand in making me the person I am today. I’m forever grateful for my career. Life could have taken me in so many different directions. As a young mother moving from the country, I knew I couldn’t change the world but I could contribute. Now as I stand here many years later, I can say that I did the best I could to be a good person, a good employee, and a good boss – and maybe that’s enough. Before I hang up my professional hat and put on my relaxation hat, I have some advice for my colleagues: what you do matters. Who you are matters. You may not change the world, but you bring your special uniqueness to the table and you’re the only one who can do that. I hope that one day when you’re up here saying your goodbyes after a long career, you feel the same peace I will feel in a few months. I’ll miss seeing you all every day, and I’ll miss the intellectual challenges you provided.

Thank you for twenty-seven years of fun, camaraderie, and life-changing moments.

Head of Residential Services, Vicki Guyer leaves Burgmann after 27 years of service. Thank you Vicki!
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