Simon Maxwell is proof you can earn a living by doing what you love

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Most people go through one or more career changes in life, but few make a leap as dramatic as Simon Maxwell’s.

A former linesman, Simon’s job involved the repair and maintenance of power lines on New South Wales railways. He had been passionate about home brewing for quite some time, but he was only able to pursue the hobby in his spare time.

That all changed when Simon left his job, started studying at TAFE NSW TAFE NSW and took up a full-time job as a brewer at Willie The Boatman, a craft brewery nestled in St Peters, Sydney.

Working at Willie The Boatman, Simon is getting paid to follow his passion. Every day, he works with his team to produce some of the finest craft beers that’ll ever wet your whistle.

Yep, he’s now getting paid to brew beer. It doesn’t get any better than that!

Pale ales, East Coast IPAs, American lagers, brown ales – whatever your poison, Simon is meticulously perfecting a brew for you to enjoy.

But what’s most impressive about him is how he took the initiative to pursue his passion and worked so hard to make it happen, even though he had no professional experience in the field.

He is currently studying at TAFE NSW to build the essential knowledge and skills required to excel in his new career, so we spoke to him to find out how he’s progressing on this rewarding pathway.

What’s the story behind the launch of Willie the Boatman and what makes you unique amongst other breweries in Australia?

“Willie the Boatman was started by my bosses, Pat McInerney and Nick Newey, in 2012 in a backyard in Tempe NSW. After a couple of years of brewing their beer at other people’s breweries, they opened their own production brewery in 2015.

“I started with Willie the Boatman the same year as a volunteer and was eventually offered a full-time job as a brewer. Willie the Boatman is, in essence, a group of passionate homebrewers working hard to make world-class beer that is best enjoyed with friends.

“We have one of the most manual brewing setups you’re likely to see, and every beer we make is an absolute labour of love.”

Tell us about your studies at TAFE NSW and what you are hoping to get out of it.

“I am currently completing a Certificate 3 in Food Processing (Micro Brewing) at TAFE NSW. From this course, I hope to learn best practice and gain technical knowledge of the brewing process.

“Through TAFE NSW, I am learning from respected industry professionals and doing work experience in some of the country’s best breweries. I am gaining an education that I can apply to my current role and future career in the brewing industry.”

What are the fundamental principles that guide your brewing process?

“My fundamental philosophy behind brewing is to keep it simple, keep it clean, listen to your customers and never forget that being a brewer is the greatest job in the world!”

What advice do you have around study and work experience for young, aspiring brewers looking to get into your field?

“Seek out volunteer positions at your local brewery and work bloody hard! In this industry, there is no substitute for passion!

“Technical qualifications such as a Certificate 3 at TAFE NSW will further strengthen your knowledge and employability and is something I definitely encourage.

“Through the brewing industry I have met the most wonderful people on Planet Earth, and I would recommend it to anyone passionate enough to get involved!

Inspired by Simon’s story? You too can follow your passions and turn them into a career. With over 1,200 courses, including diplomas and degrees, TAFE NSW offers a real-world course for just about anything you want to do in life. So take the leap and make the switch to TAFE NSW
today! Find. Find out more here.

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