28 Melbourne City Institute of Education


Over $3.3 million




Gary Coonar, 37

Head Office


Year Founded








The Melbourne City Institute of Education (MCIE) almost doubled its revenue in the 2013-14 financial year.

The previous Smart50 Awards finalist now turns over more than $3.3 million annually and has grown by 78.53% since it was founded by Gary Coonar and his former business partner Kuldip Singh in 2008.

MCIE is a registered training organisation based in Melbourne, which offers training in childcare, aged care, business, community, disability and hospitality, as well as internships to international students in hospitality and nursing.

Coonar attributes MCIE’s growth over the past 12 months to his decision to reinvest money back into the company.

“From a service perspective and a team perspective, we’ve grown by three or four fold,” Coonar told SmartCompany.

“There has been a lot of reinvestment in the last year … we’ve invested in technology to make students’ lives easier.”

Coonar has not always been able to devote his energy into growing MCIE, having run into difficulty attracting talented employees in the early days of the institute.

“Initially it was very hard,” he admits.

“We always knew to run successfully, we would need the right people. But we were a new company with no students, just a vision to sell, nothing else.”


Coonar says the people he wanted to attract to MCIE put a high level of value in job security, which is something he couldn’t offer right off the bat. He says that was the most challenging thing.


“Now that we’re established and we have a name in the market, we find that people know the culture of the organisation now. They’re not just looking for money, they’re interested in the values,” he says.


While Coonar may have overcome the challenge of finding the right staff, MCIE is still learning how to manage the challenge of operating in a sector where government policy changes weekly.

“It is very difficult, we don’t get too much warning,” says Coonar, who says MCIE can sometimes be given as little as two days’ notice of a change in training requirements.

“What we try to do is not just rely on one source of funding or course of policy,” says Coonar.

“Our offering is now quite diverse so we’re not just relying on one source.”

Coonar says the next big opportunity for MCIE is online training, which is what the institute is now focused on.

“We want to spread our footprint Australia-wide, maybe international, and online training helps with that,” he says.

Coonar is also working on developing an MCIE presence in India, with discussions already taking place with large hospitality and hotel training schools, says Coonar.

“We’ve been in discussions with a five-star hotel chain, which is looking at potentially outsourcing their training to us,” he says.

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