Interview with Centre Manager, Nicole Downey


  • Nicole Downey has joined the Futuro team as Centre Manager for our upcoming Bardia service.
  • She brings a wealth of experience and a strong commitment to building relationships in the learning community.  

Don’t let her youthful complexion fool you, the manager of our new Bardia service, Nicole Downey, comes to us with the kind of experience you’d expect from someone approaching retirement. From nannying in glamorous locations across the globe, to working with children at risk in lower socio-economic parts of the state, Nicole has crammed a lot of life experience into a short amount of time. 

However, that diverse experience hasn’t made her jaded. If anything, it’s strengthened her commitment to high quality early childhood education and care and to the professionals providing it. 

Biggest challenge of her career? 

Nicole was previously the Centre Manager of a service at Barangaroo in the Sydney CBD. This was a state-of-the-art service, with an open plan layout and no true outdoor space. Because the centre was so unusual, it was necessary for everyone to adapt their tried-and-tested ways of working to suit this new environment. The team had to not only tolerate these differences, but really embrace them, in order to make the centre a success. Was it easy? No. Was it worthwhile? Unquestionably. That hard work secured the best possible outcomes for children and families. 

Relationships with families

You can't miss Nicole's sunny attitude. She can often be found greeting the team at Gledswood Hills with "it's a great day to have a great day!". She brings that same positivity and openness to her relationships with families. 

When we asked Nicole about her approach to families, she says that her starting point is to build a strong relationship based on mutual respect. Effective communication between Educators and families is the easiest way to ensure that that the voice of the child can be heard. The goal is genuine reciprocity, ‘I don’t know what I don’t know, but if a family comes and has a respectful conversation with me, I will move mountains for you’.  

It's all about give and take

Nicole’s perspective on management is particularly insightful, commenting that healthy workplace relationships don’t involve give and taken in equal measures. You read that right – ‘don’t’. 

Instead, it’s a matter of ‘swings and roundabouts’. A 50/50 relationship assumes that everyone is always in a position to give 50%. However the reality is that energy levels can wax and wane over time for a wide range of reasons. What is needed to make those workplace relationships a success is a shared commitment to compensate for each other when we need to, because we want to do it and we respect one another. We do this in the knowledge that things will shift over time, and that the time may come when we are asking our colleagues to compensate for us. 

What the sector needs... care

Nicole is a reformer. She isn’t watching the clock and then forgetting about her job at the end of the day. She is actively agitating for positive change for children and families within her sphere of influence. Part of that is having high expectations for our training partners, education institutions and inclusion support providers. The other part is being a voice for the profession and encouraging our team to do the same.  

Where does Nicole see herself in 10 years?

Ahhh we love this question! Clearly, there’s only one correct answer (hint: Centre Manager at Bardia). Nicole, however, gave us the wrong answer. Very disappointing, especially since she only just started. Nicole’s answer: 10 kilos lighter, on a beach in the Maldives. We are choosing to assume that she’s joking. 

Keen to know more? 

Reach out! You can get us at or if you're interested in joining the waitlist, you can do so on our website at Enquire | Futuro