#careerpivot

By Naveen Kariyawasam

After years living frugally as a student – carefully rationing my fortnightly youth allowance payment on rent, mi goreng and Passion Pop. I hoped my graduate job on a six figure income at Rio Tinto as a Mining Engineer was the answer to upgrading from trashy instant mi goreng to delectable ramen… It most definitely was. Thanks to Rio I got to do a lot of traveling around the globe (including a sneaky trip to Osaka). However despite the regular holidays and novelty of flying business, there remained an inevitable void- I wasn’t passionate about my work, and after two years and over 120 flights, I realised the fly in fly out lifestyle was not a sustainable long term career path for me.

Courtesy of the rapid drop in iron ore prices, an opportunity arose to take a voluntary redundancy package. Next minute I was on a flight to Amsterdam and consider myself very fortunate to have done a few months backpacking/soul searching through Europe. Europe was my ticket to observing different approaches to living life – it became apparent the secret to happiness comprised of a balance of the following: health, red wine, simple delicious cooking, super dope beats, stimulating work and close relationships. Fortunately for me the only pillar that remained was a stimulating job, and following my new found compass to pursue my passions (being a die hard foodie), I found myself as the ‘master griller’ of Sydney’s favourite food truck @mistergeeburgertruck whilst doing my own product testing at various markets across Sydney with my Scandinavian Take away concept ‘@swedeas’ – with the intent of starting my own food truck.

My experience in hospitality was a rude awakening and I realised cooking for pleasure vs. profession should not be intertwined. Sydney consumers are spoilt for choice and fairly fickle. The challenge of customer retention and business longevity in hospitality was a risk I was not prepared to take, not to mention the pressures of capital costs and overheads ie. exorbitant leases, food/ staff costs + utilities. The ability to break even is a minor miracle. I learnt first hand that the industry is a bloodbath, and not a business model I wanted to pursue.

This led me on a new quest to find something stimulating whilst being in a sector experiencing rapid growth. There is no doubt there is a positive economic shift towards companies that have leveraged technology and utilized existing resources to disrupt and transform traditional services – screaming examples being Uber and Airbnb. I was immediately drawn to Sherpa when I discovered it was essentially the Uber of the courier industry. My relentless pursuit of a role at Sherpa plus ace ping pong skills demonstrated I possessed the hallmarks to join the sales/marketing team despite my background in Engineering.  I am now four weeks into working at Sherpa, and for the first time I can say I am surrounded by colleagues genuinely interested in their work and leaders who inspire me.

Exciting times indeed.

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