When Aziz Raonaq won the 2014 Trainee of the Year at the Victorian Training Awards (VTA), he realised his dream to achieve and be recognised.
At age 20, Aziz migrated to Australia from Afghanistan 'with nothing', including zero English language skills. Desperate for work, he got a job in a factory assembling gas appliances, while completing a security course at night.
Fast forward 20 years and Aziz is running his own security business. A survivor of some pretty tough times, Aziz's success comes from determination, resilience and an outstanding work ethic.
'My first day was nearly my last'
Aziz says starting out in Australia was 'really tough' and his first day as a student in a security course was nearly his last.
'The teacher spoke in an accent that I found difficult to understand,' Aziz says.
'When he said, "if you don't think you can deal with this, just leave at the end of the class", I thought he was talking directly to me and I nearly walked out.'
'But then I remembered my Dad's motto—"never ever give up", so I stayed.'
'I eventually finished third in my class ahead of many people whose first language was English.'
From these impressive beginnings, Aziz's star began to rise, starting as a member of the security team at Crown Melbourne. Selected for the organisation's Talent Management Program, he quickly excelled in his studies for the Certificate III in Frontline Management and as a Diploma of Management student.
After winning Crown's Student of the Year Award in 2014 and the Award for Excellence from the Australian Security Industry Association, Aziz won the Trainee of the Year Award in the Victorian Training Awards (VTA).
Obstacles no barrier to success
Aziz says winning the Victorian Training Award was 'huge' for him and for Crown.
'For me, it was the culmination of my dream to be someone who achieved and was recognised,' Aziz says.
'I overcame a lot of obstacles—migrating, financial hardship, not speaking English and needing to find work—and was proud of what I had done.'
'For Crown, I created a precedent as their first individual award winner in the VTA. I became a person who was known by everyone in the company, appearing in videos, newsletters and posters. Everyone knew me! I was like a celebrity and it was a really exciting journey.'
Aziz's exposure and recognition as a VTA winner earned him a promotion to the Acting Operations Manager at Crown. He was then headhunted by a property development company to fill the position of General Manager. Finally, it was time for Aziz to branch out on his own, and he established AGH Security Pty Ltd in 2017.
A dream fulfilled—thanks to vocational education and training
Despite the fact that Aziz never had the benefit of formal English learning, he is an eloquent speaker with impeccable English—something that stands him in very good stead as an Ambassador for vocational education and training (VET).
Aziz says that his achievements happened because he chose VET. 'That's a message I want to pass on to others,' Aziz says.
'Thanks to VET, I gained practical and theoretical knowledge, was able to support my family while learning, seize many opportunities to excel, gain promotions and become financially secure.'
'Looking back, it's like a dream to see how much I've progressed. My goal now is to see my company through a big expansion to about 50 staff in the next three years. I'm looking forward to passing on my knowledge and investing in the highest quality training so that others can have the kind of opportunities that I have benefited from.'