Meet David Cherry – Diploma in Building and Construction


How many tradies do you know who did their apprenticeship after being CEO of an international company?

You know at least one now, because David Cherry did exactly that. David now owns another business, as a specialist carpenter working on heritage buildings.

“I found the building industry, and certainly the heritage part of it, and it just fascinates me.”

It isn’t easy to change industry and completely reskill later in life. Find out why David did it, and how Builders Academy Australia helped him get the qualifications he needed.

From CEO to RDO

Some people might think it’s mad to pass up the high flying corporate lifestyle for a hard day’s work on the tools, but David has never looked back.

“I had a little fling for seven years in the corporate world,” says David.

David was the founder of EnterMo, a tech company built in Ballarat, that did business in  Australia and the US, and even went public on the stock market.

A lot of people aspire to reach the level of corporate success that David found, but he points out that the lifestyle of a CEO has major drawbacks.

“I was completely exhausted and didn’t see my family. I was living in the U.S. and I really wanted to get back to just my family, at that stage.”

“It’s very fulfilling to be able to go into that world come out of it clean and get back to what I really enjoy.”

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Back to Basics

When David left the world of business for a trade, he wasn’t completely fresh. He was already qualified as a floor and wall tiler from earlier in his life.

“I highly respect that trade because it’s a finishing trade you get to finish and polish,” David says of tiling, “but my whole life I’ve just wanted to basically create things with my hands.”

David decided that he wanted to get involved in carpentry, which he had always dreamed of.

Coming into an apprenticeship at age 40 definitely has its challenges, but David had more discipline and life experience than most people fresh out of school.

“I really enjoy difficult or impossible tasks,” he jokes.

It’s no surprise then that David chose a highly specialised area of carpentry that requires an above average level of knowledge and unique skill set.

diploma building and construction

Restoring History

David is restoring the extravagant Mintaro mansion in Monegeetta, roughly an hour outside of Melbourne.

Built in the 1880s, Mintaro has been home to wealthy pastoralists, eccentric millionaire bachelors and even housed the Australian Army for a time during WWII.

Neglect and and mistreatment mean that Mintaro had become dilapidated over the years, until the mansions current owners dedicated millions to restoring this unique heritage site. David is one of the craftspeople who’s working Mintaro.

Working on protected heritage sites comes with a unique set of challenges for a tradie.

“Not only do you do your initial planning, you then need to consult with Heritage Victoria on all sorts of things, architects, then demolition, then you can begin to repair and rebuild.”

Preservation is taken very seriously, “right down to cracks colors of paint collections of materials and some sort of historical evidence to how or what was used in those things, then how to repair them.”

This can pose a challenge when the original material used has been outlawed since the time of construction. The five-story tower of Mintaro, for example, has corroded because of all the poisonous lead that was used in the original build.

“We don’t wish to use lead,” he says, “but there are like-for-like materials. And then you resource something that is acceptable to use.”

Navigating regulations and standards becomes particularly challenging in this kind of work. David has a duty to uphold the integrity of the original building, while maintaining a site that is safe for workers and residents.

To gain the skills and knowledge he needed, David turned to BAA.

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Working on an 18th Century Building with 21st Century Knowledge

Even though David is working on a historical site and using old methods of restoration, he still needs up-to-date skills that are current with the modern industry and which give him an understanding of contemporary regulation.

This means learning to use a computer as well as you can use a hammer.

“I really struggled with the online initially.”

“I need a person I need a teacher,” David said. He also says that he’s glad he stuck with it, because he thinks these skills are adding value to his business.

“I think the online way of Education now is definitely the future and now that enhanced it so much.“

David says it was possible to overcome his technophobia (fear of technology) because the teacher was so professional and helpful.

“Incredibly professional,” he says. “I’ve never experienced this, even when I spent seven years in the corporate world. This was a very professional setup.”

David says that these skills have made him a better builder, and will make him a better leader to other craftspeople in the future.

“These things have lasted hundreds of years and I hope with my workmanship on Mintaro that there’s at least a hundred years of the things that I repair for future.”

“I really hope to give back and educate and train others … you can do this and you can make it last for hundreds of years.”

BAA played a big part in helping him achieve that.

“I would highly recommend BAA,” David says. “They’re legends at what they do.”

diploma building and construction

Looking to take the next step in your career in building and construction with a certificate or diploma? Contact our team at 1300 LEGEND (1300 534 363) or request a callback and we will get back to you with all the information you need.