John Phillips

John Phillips attended Caulfield Grammar School from 1973 to 1978. He commenced at Malvern Campus in Year 7 and transferred to Caulfield Campus in Year 9, as was the custom for Malvern students until 1980.


Malvern & Caulfield Campuses

John says that he really enjoyed his time at Malvern and that he benefitted greatly from the close-knit nature of the campus and the caring teachers that looked after him and his fellow Malvern students (all boys then). In fact, John believes that his time at Malvern very much helped shape him into the person he is today and the teachers there helped inspire him to pursue a career in teaching himself. He nominates Bill Sayers (Head of Campus), Jean Ryan and Ian McDonald as some of the teachers at Malvern who really made an impact on him.


John also enjoyed his time at Caulfield Campus and made many life-long friends but regrets not taking full advantage of all the opportunities a school such as Caulfield can offer. His advice to current senior students and young alumni is, therefore, to:

“Make the most of every opportunity that comes your way.  Don’t be afraid to give those opportunities a go!”

A passion for teaching

After leaving school, John proceeded to university to begin teacher training. At 21 years of age he gained his first teaching appointment in the primary school at Brighton Grammar and he continued to be a primary teacher there for the next 20 years, completing a Masters of Education degree at Monash University in 1999.


After 20 years of teaching, an opportunity presented itself for John to move into a new role at Brighton and he says that he has been “trying new things ever since”. Firstly, he was appointed Director of Community Education for both Brighton and Firbank Grammar Schools and more recently Director of Advancement at Brighton Grammar. John sees himself as being very fortunate to have been able to pursue three different careers while working for the one employer!


John is a member of Brighton Grammar School’s Senior Executive and directs the School’s advancement and alumni relations team. “As Director of Advancement, my role is incredibly varied and I very much enjoy the diversity that comes with that. On many occasions my days differ totally to the way they were originally planned.”



Being able to see the impact of strong community engagement at Brighton is something that John finds very rewarding.  He enjoys just about everything in his current role but says that budgeting is his least favourite task as “figures and me are not friends!”


A culture of philanthropy

John is a strong advocate for developing a giving culture at schools like Caulfield and Brighton:

“As developing a strong culture of philanthropy is a major part of my role at Brighton, I hope that my team can continue to inspire members of our community to support our plans for the future. I also hope that this can extrapolate into other schools/not-for-profits – we are seeing increasing levels of giving to worthy causes across the board and long may that continue.”

While there is strong competition between independent schools for enrolments, the competition does not extend into spheres like alumni relations and advancement.


John was Vice-President of the Victorian and Tasmanian Chapter of Educate Plus for over four years. Educate Plus is an Australia-wide network of advancement professionals in the secondary and tertiary education sectors. It works to support members in the areas of: 1) Admissions and Enrolments; 2) Alumni & Community Relations; and 3) Fundraising, Marketing & Communications. At the recent Educate Plus International Conference in Adelaide, John was awarded the prestigious Trevor Wigney Award for outstanding service to educational advancement in Australasia.


John says that he is always trying to find new ways to innovate and ‘raise the bar’ in the advancement field.


John is proud to be a regular donor to the CGS Foundation and encourages all alumni to do the same. Given his vast experience in educational advancement the advice and support he has given to his old school, particularly to the CGS Foundation team led by Executive Director Andrew Cole, has been invaluable.


John is married to Sue (a teacher) and has two daughters who are now in the workforce. His daughters attended Shelford Girls’ Grammar, where he was a member of the Board of Governors for 11 years.


We wish John all the best in his continuing role at Brighton Grammar and thank him for the support he has given our School.


Want to connect with John? Check out his LinkedIn profile.


Zoe Alexiades (Class of 2014) is another Grammarian passionate about philanthropy, using her design talent and skill within the not-for-profit sector, whilst juggling a growing career in Marketing for education.

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