Where are they now – Kieren O’Riley (SPC 2007-2012)

May 16, 2022

The College recently reconnected with Old Collegian Kieren O’Riley (SPC 2007-2012) who is loving his career in quality control in the food industry and always felt supported and empowered to do his best while he was SPC.


Kieren O’Riley.


Where has life taken you since leaving SPC?

Post high school I began study at Federation University Australia in Mt Helen, studying a Bachelor of Food and Nutritional Sciences. It was always an area that was close to my personal interests being all things food, and Anthony Meehan, who was careers coordinator at the time was quite upfront in saying that there was a decent level of opportunity in the industry, with regards to this discipline. I graduated in my course in 2016; and was able to secure a job in the Microbiology Laboratory Technician team at Mars Wrigley Confectionary.

I worked for three years with Mars in that role and transitioned into Quality Assurance for inbound materials. Definitely a high-pressure job given the scale of the operation, but I was very appreciative of the time I had with the business; and was able to soak in a lot of perspective.

My current job which I transitioned into at the start of 2020 before COVID lockdowns kicked into motion, is as Quality and OHS manager for La Madre Bakery in South Geelong. We operate as a Sourdough Bakery and Viennoiserie, but purely for wholesale purposes; meaning we don’t sell direct to the public. I currently manage a team of around eight bakers, five pastry chefs and 16 or so pick packers, office staff and amenity-related staff. It’s certainly been rewarding, and as of this year (2022) I have since moved to Geelong West, and live by myself with my pet cat Larry.
I currently enjoy boxing/gym work, improv comedy and socializing when I get the opportunity.


Do you have family ties with SPC?

Absolutely. My older brother is also an Old Collegian from the class of 2009. He claims he was the more successful brother, but more or less that’s the ramblings of a narcissist. Prior to Liam starting we didn’t have major ties, but I think both of us boys were very integrated into the College in a positive manner.


What are your fondest memories of your time at St Patrick’s College?

I reflect pretty fondly on when as a year level; we would do extra-curricular activities of different sorts whether or not it be camping, retreats, sports carnivals or more impactful events. I have the genuine belief that this was when our year level had their respective best moments, as it was a chaotic shared experience that was very much bound in comradery, and a deep care for one another. Don’t get me wrong, it was chaotic; but I don’t think it would have been the same otherwise. If I could boil it down to one memory, I think it would be at the end of speech night where we essentially blocked traffic on Lydiard Street by doing a war cry.

Kieren O’Riley pictured in his Year 12 class photograph in 2012.

Which teacher from your time at SPC had the greatest impact on you? Why?

There’s going to be some broken hearts in the room for sure haha! I think for pure diplomacy I’ll name a couple of staff, teaching and otherwise.
I have Autism and was very much closely watched throughout my high schooling through the school’s aide program. From that crew; I’d particularly say (and this is across the span of a few years) Tracy Holland, Mif Wright, Kate Walsh, Anne Hucker, Anne-Marie Driscoll, Tamara Westwood, Andrew Schuyler, Helen McClennan, Tina McManus (not in the program, but a legend nonetheless), Vicki Arthurson, Daniel Sutton; amongst many others, where beyond instrumental in me integrating into my year level with aplomb. I am forever grateful for these crew. Teaching wise, once again I’d be remiss not to name a few. Howard Clark, Geoffrey Brodie, Andrew Chamings, Mark O’Loughlan, John Sullivan, Neale Arthurson, Sara Taylor, Jodie Howlett, Hamish McCrum, Michael Weadon, Kara Hart, Rodney Van Bentum, Peter Joyce, John Richards, Terry Blizzard, Gerard Knobel (big thank you), Jo-Ann Patching, Ursula Bridges, Peter Camm, Belinda Lees, Peter Hutchin amongst others, were beyond influential in my teaching. I am very grateful to those staff also.

Kieren O’Riley, pictured in the 2012 College Annual.

How has your education shaped your professional life?

I think SPC, for the better part, pushed me to achieve my best, but in a format that didn’t lock in pressure like some other institutions do. I definitely felt empowered to do my best within my high schooling and was beyond supported by the staff and the college proper. I think without the strong education I had, and the care and belief the staff fed into me; I would probably be much less successful than I have been.

Kieren won numerous public speaking and debating awards during his time at SPC, including the Purton Oratory and WT Doyle Awards in 2012; WT Doyle Award in 2011, Purton Oratory in 2010 and Br Breach Oratory in 2009 & 2008.


How has your time at SPC shaped your personal values and your family life?

I think from a personal perspective, because of the belief and encouragement I had within the SPC community, I was able to shave off a lot of the rough edges I had as a teenager growing up with a disability. Humility, grit and not settling for less were things that were constantly drilled into me from home, to which the College facilitated and supported these values, helping me to go from a young naïve boy to a relatively well-adjusted young adult. The College has and will always be a big part of my family’s life, and I know my mum is forever appreciative for how SPC embraced Liam and I, and allowed us to be the great young adults we always had in us somewhere.


If you could pass on one message to the students of today, what would it be?

I just had my 10-Year Class Reunion and in all honesty, it does not feel that long ago I was still walking the SPC halls and being a nuisance. I’m not super old, but if I could pass on one message to the boys either starting or moving their way through their studies at SPC is that life is honestly fleeting.
There won’t be another time when you get to call yourself a Paddy boy, test the patience of a hardline teacher with the undoing of a collar button, or to do a war cry as a whole school. Being an adult is great, but being a student is a magical time that only happens once. Hang onto your friendships, stay resilient, but most of all; enjoy this time with your crew, as those memories are special.

Kieren O’Riley with former classmates, Michael Cocomazzo, Sam Malone and Christopher Debono at their 10-Year Class Reunion, held on April 30 this year.