There are multiple factors that contribute to a successful career and for me three things in particular stand out: perseverance, passion and education.
Perseverance and passion are qualities within all of us, but good education establishes the foundation for every career. For me the APM College of Business and Communication provided a particularly well-rounded education, one that carefully balanced theory and real world practice – and this was critical for me.
Within a couple of years of graduating from APM, and after some further study, I was fortunate to join a passionate marketing team at Hilton Hotels Worldwide. Here I worked hard, and rose through the ranks to become the London-based Regional Director of Marketing.
In this role I saw the launch of the $200 million Hilton Sydney Doubletree by Hilton and I led the Hilton Garden Inn brands entry into the European market. I had a portfolio of thirty hotels across the UK plus the Hilton, Sydney under my watch – it was an incredibly exciting time.
Charting my own path
However, I wanted more. My studies at APM had placed great emphasis on prioritising customers and finding new ways to create and innovate and I wasn’t seeing that enough, so I quit my job as Regional Director of Marketing for Hilton Hotels and turned down a job with Richard Branson to kick-start my start-up dream – Dimmi, an online marketplace for restaurants designed to make life better for both consumers and restaurant owners.
Leaving Hilton sounded like a great idea at the time – I was 27, I was hugely driven and I wanted to make a dent in the world. But a year later I didn’t have a dollar to my name, the GFC had hit and I couldn’t raise capital. I was living on a mate’s couch and working 20-hour days to get my idea off the ground. I was so close to throwing in the towel, but I pressed on.
It’s moments like these that you need to look deep inside and find the self-belief to keep going. The challenge made me more determined and more driven than ever.
The idea behind Dimmi was simple: to create better dining moments for thousands of customers and to help restaurants run a better business. During my time at APM we were encouraged to overcome adversity, to create, to innovate and to disrupt, and this has continued influence my career.
It hasn’t all been smooth sailing, but I feel so fortunate to have been brought up in a family and an educational environment that instilled the qualities I’ve needed to ride the roller coaster of entrepreneurial life – and what a ride it has been.
The best advice for those keen to chart their own path and chase their dreams is to be brave, to back yourself and to seek the best education you can to propel yourself into the business world.
Experiences that have shaped me
An insatiable appetite: Mum used to come into our bedroom at sunrise, throw open the curtains and say “It’s time to wake. Whilst you are sleeping, the world is moving.” These things, you never forget. Without this hunger, I doubt I could have made it through the start-up years at Dimmi, in particular sleeping on a mate’s couch for a year, not a dollar to my name, whilst dreaming up Dimmi.
Heart: Being Italian passion is ingrained is my DNA. The soccer field is where it played out early on, but it didn’t stay there. Without passion I doubt I ever would have given up a dream job of working with Richard Branson because I felt like I wanted to and needed to make a difference – and make a dent in the world.
Perseverance: My grandfather drove a semi-trailer truck until he was 72. He left everything behind (including his family) to migrate to Australia in the hope of creating a better world for his kids. He was my hero in so many ways. I suppose that during many of the dark days at Dimmi (and there were many of these), I would take strength in knowing that my biggest challenges were so pale in comparison. My father instilled the same belief in me. We just didn’t know how to give up on something you believe in, something you are passionate about.
Self-belief: Probably one of the most important values that I learnt as a kid was that of self-belief. My mother had a stubborn determination and she would constantly remind us never to allow anyone to tell us we couldn’t do something or be someone. That you could be whoever you wanted to be. My brother went on to establish one of the top creative advertising agencies in New York and I went on to create Dimmi. Neither of us would have made it through the start-up growing pains without such dogged self-belief and conviction.
The Sunday lunch: As simple as it sounds, the Sunday lunch with extended family and friends was hugely formative for me. Lots of great food, wine, laughter, tears, arguments and love! At a very young age it taught me the importance of close family and friends, and that many of the great moments in life happen around the dinner table.
Stevan Premutico is An astute hospitality marketeer with experience across the United States, UK and Australia. He is the CEO and Founder of Dimmi which is a top Australian real-time restaurant booking and review website.