Leading educator celebrates milestone


Gold Coast entrepreneur Sonya McGuire marks 25 years as head of globally-recognised training provider

Astute business owner and global entrepreneur Sonya McGuire pioneered the Gold Coast’s digital and communications industry when she founded the Australian College of Information Technology 25 years ago.

With a background in IT, software programming and as one of the world’s first IBM personal computer users, Mrs McGuire moved from Darwin to the Gold Coast in her 20s and became a trainer for TAFE and Bond University before starting her own business.

For the first five years she focused on delivering the world-class courses in information technology, and in the late 1990s the Australian College of Information Technology (ACIT) partnered with tech giants Microsoft, Cisco Systems, VMware and Juniper Networks to offer a unique skill-set to international and local students.

A few years later Mrs McGuire further cemented her reputation as an industry leader by acquiring the OPTUS Vision Studios in Brisbane to provide students with a hands-on learning facility and a sister college to ACIT; the Institute of Film and Television (IFTV).

Through her internationally-recognised colleges, that deliver world-class and industry-leading courses in digital technologies and multimedia, Mrs McGuire has played a pivotal role in the growing the Gold Coast’s reputation as one of the world’s leaders in vocational training.

Such is the global reputation of Mrs McGuire’s college, students from more than 20 countries are flocking to the Gold Coast to study courses such as telecommunications network engineering and digital media technology because they are assured well-paying and prestigious jobs following their training.

“Students choose our colleges because our courses provide them with the technical skills they need to work in the most highly sought after careers in the telecommunications and media industries,” Mrs McGuire says.

“One of my biggest achievements in the 25 years since I started my businesses is that every student who graduates is either headhunted before they finish their training or is employed as soon as they graduate.

“I believe this is testament to the important role that ACIT and IFTV has played in helping to shape and modernise leading-edge technology education that encompasses security, networking, engineering, digital media and film and television.”

Perhaps her most ambitious and exciting venture yet is the recent launch of IFTV Studios, a production company she has started to fund, develop and distribute a number of socially and environmentally-focused projects for screen, television and digital media.

About IFTV Studios

The studio is involved in a number of productions in development locally, including a wildlife conservation series in conjunction with Australian producers, and Mrs McGuire is also working on various digital media projects on a global scale.

She’s currently working with screen developers in Hollywood on a project focusing on educational reforms for women across the globe. The project combines education and entertainment to empower women all over the world through an online education portal.

“Close to my heart is empowering women and improving their quality of life and outcomes, both socially and economically. Without giving too much away, I plan to provide a digital experience in combination with online scholarship programs to increase equality for those who are denied an education,” she says.

With far-reaching enterprises and with an insatiable appetite for using her success to empower other women, Mrs McGuire’s companies service local and overseas countries for a range of projects in India, Malaysia, Australia, Brazil and Chile.

In addition to working with education authorities in Brazil, her experience and diplomacy in foreign affairs see her communicate with government officials, politicians and diplomats across the globe as well as screen industry executives in Hollywood, Australia and Bollywood.

While she thrives on a challenge and derives great satisfaction from using her entrepreneurial spirit, Mrs McGuire is also a devoted mother to three boys and a wife to Danny, who works alongside her at the college. At the peak of her career, she’s showing no signs of slowing down, with plans to open a business entrepreneur school on the Gold Coast later this year.

Capitalising on her 35 years’ experience in the IT, communications and digital media sphere, Mrs McGuire plans to impart the valuable business knowledge and insight she has gained to teach students how to combine entrepreneurship with business and digital technology.

“In terms of education vocational training we are now leaders. We have always been at the forefront and people look to us for innovation, especially in regards to full convergence technologies. And through IFTV Studios I’m going to use my expertise in different international markets to start distributing a targeted product across the world.”