With qualifications in sociology, psychology, business and marketing, Sherelle French has forged a high level global career driving business planning, management, marketing and sales for corporations operating in the telecommunications, property development, Information Technology and the tertiary education sectors.
Under her stewardship, The Academy has grown to become one of the largest training providers for the beauty industry, and the preferred choice of leading employers.
Driven by her desire to bridge the divide between training outcomes and industry needs, she and the senior management team have revolutionised The Academy’s education agenda, introducing an innovative Service Excellence Program that incorporates a mentor-based personal development experience.
In August 2014, GCTA rebranded as The French Beauty Academy, reflecting its position as a luxury brand catering to the global marketplace.
Sherelle herself personifies the attributes of grace, refinement and compassion that she strives to instil in her students. More than her success as a businesswoman, it is her own personal journey that truly inspires them with the belief that education has the power to transform lives.
This is her story….
“When I first took over The Academy, I was shocked and moved by the number of students who would tell me ‘I’m not really smart … ‘, ‘I was always dumb at school …’ and ‘I had this dream that I could be something more …’
“It struck me that these girls were no different to me as a teenager. They had the same talent that I’d had growing up, but somewhere along the line they’d started to believe they weren’t capable, or deserving, or worthy of something better. They’d lost all belief in themselves.
“I grew up as one of five children in a simple farming family in country Victoria. My mother was a school principal but my father’s education hadn’t gone beyond Year 8. The big lesson they imparted to us was that education and hard work were the keys to getting ahead in life.
“They made sure we all had a great education but more than that, they believed in us. As a teenager, I was absolutely convinced that the good life was for me – all I needed to do was go out there and get it.
“At the end of Year 12, I earned a full scholarship to La Sierra University in Los Angeles and didn’t think twice about heading off to live in the USA.
“I can still remember the first time I saw the lights of that enormous city stretching on forever. I’d grown up in an area where we were lucky to see a single light from the neighbour’s house on the horizon.
“In five years of living in the States, I made plenty of mistakes and learnt lots of lessons the hard way, but I grew to trust myself and my instincts.
“Returning to Australia, I met and married my “magnificent obsession”. At that time Alan was a school principal but we both realised that the path to success was through owning our own businesses.
“We lived all over Australia and back in the US where I saw how at the time in America people would sacrifice the ‘good life’ to gain more and more material possessions, judging people on the size of their house or the car they drove.
“We also traveled through Italy and France where the ‘good life’ meant spending time with friends and family, regardless of what they did or didn’t have.
“After settling in the beautiful Gold Coast hinterland to raise our family, I found myself working in senior management at Bond University … and I loved it! I’ve always believed that education is the one true investment that pays dividends for a lifetime, and in this job I finally felt I was genuinely making a difference in people’s lives.
“On my first day at The Academy I started meeting our prospective students; it was then that I realised I’d found my calling.
“In amongst the shining faces of girls who were excited by the idea of a career in the beauty industry, and dreamt of one day running their own businesses or travelling the world to work in luxury spas, there were the ones who came from abusive homes, alcoholic families and limited schooling.
“Over the years, I’ve seen those students transformed under the mentoring care of teachers who truly believe in them. At our graduation ceremonies, I see these beautiful souls walk confidently across the stage, stunning in their evening wear to accept their Diplomas – proud of their achievements and hopeful about their bright future.
“I think back to their first interview and hear them say ‘I had a dream that I could be something more …’
“And I know that we’re not just in the business of education. We’re in the business of making dreams come true, and what a privilege it is.”