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People's Choice Awards 2020



Category: Apprentice of the Year

Leann Reyes

Leann ReyesQualification: Certificate III in Hairdressing
Trained by: TAFE NSW
Employed by: Wildlife Hairdressing

“I used to struggle with low self-esteem when interacting with others, but since I started my apprenticeship at Wildlife Hairdressing my confidence has blossomed. Working in such a large salon, great communication skills are needed. I strive to ensure no one is alienated and all apprentices are working as a unit.”


A graduate of a Bachelor in Graphic Design, Leann was the manager of Woolworths’ Social Media Team when she made a life-changing decision.

“I was feeling unfulfilled,” says Leann. “I wanted to do something exciting and hands-on that would allow me to express my creativity through hair and beauty.”

Leann now works in a high-profile salon that provides pathways in education, session styling, bridal and everyday hairdressing and beauty services.

“Apprentices at my salon often extend their training for six months due to our employer’s exceptionally high standards,” says Leann. “In order to avoid delays in gaining my qualification, I brought in extra training models after hours to practise in my own time. I’ve asked seniors for supplementary one-on-one training and completed additional courses on my days off.”

Leann ReyesLeann is so committed to advancing her skills that she enrolled in two TAFE NSW - Ultimo courses in Barbering. She also volunteered in a barbershop on Sundays so she could immerse herself in the experience. These achievements will allow her to become dually qualified in a Certificate III in Hairdressing and Certificate III in Barbering – all while working full-time.

Being a mature age student has proven challenging for Leann on a personal level.

“I had to start from scratch,” says Leann. “Due to my youthful appearance and apprentice status, I’ve been underestimated by clients. I’ve worked hard to gain the respect of my peers and clients so this has never discouraged me for long. Being an older apprentice does have its benefits. I’ve brought a level of maturity and wisdom to my workplace that helps support our younger employees.”

Leann's TAFE NSW trainer Trisha Hoban can’t speak highly enough of her star student.

“Leann is driven to succeed,” says Trisha. “She’s intellectually curious, has a strong work ethic and is constantly upskilling through courses and competitions. Leann motivates everyone around her because she sets such a high standard for herself – she’s always striving for perfection. She willingly volunteers her time to assist her salon group and other industry experts on photo shoots and special events.”

Leann also speaks highly of her training experience.

“My TAFE NSW training was conducted at an exceptionally high standard,” says Leann. “I’m grateful to have been educated by many industry leaders. All of whom offered different areas expertise.”

Earlier this year Leann was appointed head apprentice at her salon because of her leadership skills.

“Whether it’s a young apprentice or a senior hairdresser, the success of one is the success of all,” says Leann. “Encouragement is so important. My strong support system at TAFE and work enabled me to take failures as lessons and ultimately succeed.”