A famous saying is “Begin as you mean to go on” and when I think about the early days at Mother Duck this certainly rings true when you meet a very special person Miss Katy.
Last year, Miss Katy recently celebrated her 30-year anniversary of being a part of the Mother Duck family and always knew working with young children and their families was her life-long dream. She went for an interview at Mother Duck Enoggera when she was still in Year 12, hoping to commence the following year after completing her High School Certificate.
In our interview Miss Katy recalls this story…
“My interview at Mother Duck Enoggera was held with the delightful Mrs Ros. I was halfway through year 12 and I met her in the very old church building. My Mum was outside in the car with the Day care children she took care of. Mrs Ros straight from day one, was just such a nurturing, friendly, amazing person. She talked me through the interview and then we went for a little walk through and I discovered it was one big room, an old church hall. It felt like there was lots of children, there probably wasn’t at the time, but it was just an old church hall. It just felt like a really loving environment straight up and that was Ros I suppose, that’s the feeling she always gave.
I then started at Enoggera in the brand-new building at the time, which was built right behind the church. Ros and Denis were there every day. Ros used to be at the front desk greeting the families, Mr Denis used to do all the business side of things. I started with Mrs Lori in the Kindy, it was actually Preschool back then. There were eight staff and we all worked full time and then there was Ros and Denis. They were the days that Ros would bring us in lunches, take us out down to the Chinese shop. And yeah, it was just a really big family, it wasn’t actually very big back then, but it was a close-knit family. It was beautiful.
I was 17 so I started growing up in Mother Duck. It was 1991 so yes, then Ros and Denis became part of my family.”
In late 1992 Miss Katy then assisted with setting up the second Mother Duck Centre at Strathpine and was excited to take on a Group Leader position, working across the many age groups over the next five years. In 1997 Miss Katy was promoted to be the Centre Director and continued in this position for the next 15 years and set a legacy for the reputation of this Centre for many years to come. In January 2008 she left Strathpine to accept the Franchise at Mother Duck Eatons Hill to become a business owner.
Here she describes how she has progressed in her career to become a Franchised business owner and what that looks like in the Mother Duck group.
“In the January of 2008 I started my Franchise at Eatons Hill. I’ve been here for 12, almost 13 years. I love what I do. I love the families and the management team I have now with Miss Mel being alongside me. It’s the happiest place to work in. Mother Duck is and will always be really family orientated, I don’t even want to say “business” because that’s not what it is, it’s a family.
Ros and Denis have always looked after all of their staff. Mr Denis is always in the centres, knows everyone’s names, we’re not a number, we’re far from a number. Miss Karen comes in, she knows everyone’s name, she even knows some of the children’s names as well as husbands and partners.
When we look at Mother Duck today, compared to 30 years ago when it was only one Centre, that sense of family has never gone away. Mr Denis always just wants the best for everybody in opportunities that he gave in a professional sense in growing Mother Duck providing more educators the opportunity to work in such a wonderful company. The opportunity that I was given by Ros and Denis, of taking on my own business. He shared his love of making people successful but also, it was never, ever about the money. He wanted to assist us to do our businesses proud and well, but never did he say we couldn’t spend money on this. There’s never been that tight budget. It’s always been about the children.
I’ve learned from his mantra that you have to keep improving and reinvesting to make your business grow. There’s never been a day where we’ve been told that we can’t spend money on something. I suppose that’s what Mel and I even share now with our educators, if there’s anything they need, we accommodate.”
Miss Katy is known by our Mother Duck Committee Members as the “mother duck”. Not only as the longest serving member of the group, but because of her empathy and care for others. She is naturally a caring and empathetic person who will always reach out and care for others which is what has made her so successful throughout her career. Here she describes her Why?
“It was very different, from 30 years ago, to 20 years ago, to 10 years ago and now to the current what we do has grown. We’ve always had that dedication to our children and I think that’s why you know I do what I do. I always thought as a Director back in 1997 that I knew how these parents were feeling and it wasn’t until I became a Mum myself that we really understand. How it feels for our families to walk away from their little people every day. Entrusting them or entrusting us with the care of the most important person in their world. My families mean the world to me, that’s why I come to work every day to ensure that their children are well looked after by our amazing team, which they always are.
Mother Duck to me, and what I bring to families is a place where they can bring their children with confidence, know that their children are well looked after. Has that changed in 30 years? Yes and no. No, because that’s why we do what we do. But yes, we view children differently and as I said in the 10 years, the 20 years and the 30 years. We were always working to the best of our knowledge and I think as our knowledge has grown our understanding of how we look at children and how we view children. It’s really evolved. I was only saying to a parent yesterday who was I showing through that how we view children in this current day with our Reconfiguring Quality Project and how I raised my children 20 years ago. I would probably do things a little bit differently, not that how we raised our children was wrong back then, we just we really understand what our little people are all about now.”
Reflecting on the past 30 years, Miss Katy still shares a love of the Mother Duck family and describes why that is important for her.
“Mother Duck, we never went corporate and I think that’s the biggest and most important part of us. When we look at some of the other bigger companies around. Everybody is still valued; everybody is still heard. We’ve had Committee Meetings for many years and even from those very early days at the Committee, people had a voice. Even back before Committee days when I was at Strathpine, we would meet Denis for lunch and he would ask us “What can we do better?” It was never a dictatorship and I talk about that with our new staff and that I suppose, is something that is so unique to Mother Duck. Everyone is included, everyone feels included, thinking about our educators today and even back then, decisions were made in consultation, it wasn’t just coming from the top.
Our children have always been first and foremost, we talk about our happy staff, but our professionally satisfied staff and that’s something Denis used to talk about back when he would interview new staff. If we have happy staff, then it flows down to having happy children and then happy families and I think that is still number one today. If we have professionally satisfied educators, it just flows, it all falls into place. A workplace of laughter. A workplace of little jokes. Conversations in the staff room about funny little things that children have said throughout the day. All of those things make our day. It’s not a chore to come to work. We talk about bringing the joy back to educators’ work and we are doing that with the Reconfiguring Quality Project.”
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