Gillian Graham knows the value of a qualification and the demands of distance learning. It makes her the perfect person to guide students studying towards the SIT2LRN Certificate in Interior Décor, a role she took up in April.
A self-employed Invercargill design consultant, Gillian’s 15-year career in the industry began in 1997 when she was employed as a traveller for Dulux. “I loved the colour part of it,” she says. During her five-year stint with the paint company she built on her knowledge, through in-house training and by doing a correspondence course in design.
Gillian stopped work to have a baby but was soon approached by Dulux, this time offering her a part-time position as a nationwide colour consultant, one of a team of specialists to travel the country, as required, to give expert colour advice.
She picked up some bathroom merchandising work and soon found herself working with some of the major group home builders, often developing design and colour solutions for new builds straight off the plans.
“I provide advice to my own clients too. For example, I’ve designed both hotel and motel rooms for the ILT (Invercargill Licensing Trust).”
But even though she only became a course facilitator this year, Gillian’s been involved with the Certificate in Interior Décor right from the start. “I evaluated the course before it was first offered by SIT2LRN, tweaking it so it would be more relevant to New Zealand students.” She’s been a moderator too, ensuring the quality of students’ work meets the defined criteria.
So now that she’s working with students, helping them discover the joys of design, she’s discovering new things herself.
“It’s so satisfying seeing students do well. How they take my advice and demonstrate they ‘get’ it. Marking their work is great, too. A lot of it is quite refreshing.”
And they’re a diverse group too, of all ages and backgrounds. There are some retired ladies and a few stay-at-home mums, some part-time workers, a person who works in a lighting store and home owners looking to apply their new found knowledge to their decorating projects. Gillian even has a student from the Chatham Islands.
She’s hoping that the course will continue to evolve, particularly around computer design software. “At the moment the practical elements of the course have to be done by hand, including the colour wheel and model construction. It would be great to introduce computing tools for students to use.”