Denise Stevens has had a distinguished career in the Victorian Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector and has delivered significant reform, resulting in improved outcomes for learners both in Victoria and overseas.
The growth of the hospitality industry in Victoria during the late 1990s saw a rapid expansion of training provision and new innovations in program delivery to meet this demand.
Following the establishment of Hospitality and Tourism at Eastern TAFE and to meet growth and local need, Denise established the Centre for Food and Wine Tourism at the then Swinburne University's Lilydale Campus. Denise's vision for tourism in Victoria, and to meet regional demands, led her to develop the Graduate Certificate in Business (Food and Wine Tourism Marketing) and a dual Diploma/Degree program in Tourism.
Denise's considerable involvement in regional communities resulted in her supporting the development of the Yarra Valley Regional Food Group, as inaugural Chair, which was instrumental in the development of the Farmers Market scheme in Victoria. The Farmers Market scheme remains a booming initiative in metropolitan, regional and rural Victoria today.
In her work with Swinburne University, Denise was pivotal in the development of an industry engagement model which supported alternate pathways for learners, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Denise went on to hold a senior management role at Holmesglen Institute, where she was responsible for implementing some of the first degree programs within a TAFE, developing an engagement model which supported alternative pathways for learners, and supporting teaching operations in China. After 12 months working in the Middle East as an educational advisor, she then went to William Angliss Institute where she was Director of Teaching and Learning, overseeing teaching operations across cookery, tourism and hospitality and the implementation of their first degree programs.
More recently, as Chief Executive Officer from 2009-2015, Denise transformed the VET Development Centre (VDC) into a nationally recognised leader in VET workforce development. This required significant reform and resulted in the expansion of the VDC's services to non-public providers.
In addition to Denise's own contributions to the VET sector in Victoria, she has continued to mentor young women in the workforce, resulting in many of her mentees holding significant positions in government, business and the not-for-profit sectors. Denise has held many positions on boards and committees in Victoria, often in a voluntary position, in support of her drive to improve the VET sector.
Denise is currently a Director at Deste Consulting, which provides high-level analysis and senior management expertise to support VET-based activities supported by her extensive TAFE and VET experience in Victoria and overseas.