Case studies Dewi, the undertaker
Dewi, the undertaker
Dewi, the undertaker

Dewi, the undertaker (6)

Motto: I'm going to make it!

Demographic and biographical Characteristics

Dewi, 25, male, comes from a well educated background.  Currently living with his girlfriend and baby daughter in rented accommodation but renovating an old house. Dewi is the manager of a pub but also runs his own tourism and catering business and live music events. Is always busy and works very long hours. Has no time for hobbies. Always looking at the next business opportunity, Dewi is a born entrepreneur.

Transitions

Educational and transitional pathways

Dewi did a foundation diploma in Graphic design and started a degree course in Graphic design but did not like it and left. Worked part time in a bar, was good at it and ended up as bar manager. Went to university to do a work-based degree in Hospitality and Licensed Trades.  Continued to work while at university and took over as manager of another bigger pub 2 years ago. After graduating, continued employment as manager of pub but also started his own business. Has been offered 50% share in pub and is planning to take it.

“I’m just not academic – I had to go to university so that I can say I have a degree – like if I needed to go and get a bank loan to buy a pub, it would help.”

“The work based degree was pretty rubbish in terms of organisation but the content was good. It was hard doing a full time degree and a full time job.”

“I’ve never applied for a job – I was asked whether I wanted my first bar job, then I was promoted, then I was approached by someone else, then promoted again. That’s how it works in this game – it’s word of mouth.”

“I don’t plan on ever having to find or apply for another job – I’d see that as failure – I want to be my own boss” 

Dewi’s philosophy is that if you want to make money you have to keep one step ahead of the competition, work hard, always have a Plan B, and be thinking what your next business venture is. His ambition is to make enough money so that he can retire as young as possible.Dewi had transitions from school to art college to university to employment then to university again and to employment and to self employment but these were smoother than for many graduates as he did not leave home and worked full time while at university and continued in the same job.

Motivations and Strategies

Dewi is entirely motivated by making money – he is not particularly interested in a specific sector, just in running a business. He happened to drift into the hospitality and events industry, found he was good at it and stayed but would happily change. He points out that although he personally wants to make money he is also highly motivated by increasing the profits of the organisation he is working for.

“When I became manager of x, I increased the turnover 6 fold in 3 years. Then I took over a pub making a loss and after 2 years we are turning over half a million a year and clearing £120k profit. That’s what gives me the buzz – the sound of the tills ringing  - if you are in business, your only way of measuring success  is the balance sheet”

His strategies are networking, taking risks, diversifying, speculating time and money, always looking ahead to the next opportunity.  He believes you make your own luck. Dewi is entirely motivated by making money – he is not particularly interested in a specific sector, just in running a business. He happened to drift into the hospitality and events industry, found he was good at it and stayed but would happily change. He points out that although he personally wants to make money he is also highly motivated by increasing the profits of the organisation he is working for.“When I became manager of x, I increased the turnover 6 fold in 3 years. Then I took over a pub making a loss and after 2 years we are turning over half a million a year and clearing £120k profit. That’s what gives me the buzz – the sound of the tills ringing  - if you are in business, your only way of measuring success  is the balance sheet”His strategies are networking, taking risks, diversifying, speculating time and money, always looking ahead to the next opportunity.He believes you make your own luck.

Ad hoc learning scenarios

Dewi spends a lot of time on the web, reading trade magazines, networking, visiting other pubs to get new ideas and check on the competition. His work is very hands on and he says he cannot imagine being able to learn the practical skills on line – particularly staff management and customer care. However, he employs 14 staff and is responsible for their training, which he takes very seriously – he runs formal staff training sessions one afternoon a week and says he has learned a lot by doing this, spending a lot of time researching topics and preparing material.

He has also done several trade courses such as the Personal Licence Holder certificate, Food Hygiene etc. He said both of these could have been easily done on line and then assessed at a test centre. He also passed his International Sommellier examination which he said was the hardest exam he had ever taken and much harder than his degree. However, he thought that wine tasting on-line might be difficult!

Support Services used

Dewi has consciously built up a huge network of contacts and says it is part of his job. He said the lecturers at university did not help but that he had not expected it and did not want it. He did not use the Careers Service or the university careers service. He has tried to access various organisations who provide grants and support for start up businesses but said they were a waste of space.

“This old guy was counselling me about running a business and giving me advice on writing business plans. Apart from the fact that I’d done all that at university, I have already prepared about 10 of them for real. He knew nothing about the industry I’m in whatsoever so I asked him what business he was in – turned out he was an engineer but his company had gone bust. So I thought stuff that!!”

Learning type

Two main ways of learning are detectable:  

Learning from practical experiences: Dewi learns new skills on the job and by teaching others – also, he says, from making mistakes or failing and then investing time working out why things went wrong

Learning from community of practice: Dewi spends a lot of time on networking – with other professionals, with suppliers, customers, competitors, other local business people and people in related industries. He says most of his learning comes from being part of a close knit community of practice although he says his networking is face-to-face not on line.

Self-directed learning: Dewi will use the internet to find out technical information, product information and, often, legal information around e.g employment law. He also reads the trade magazines and relies on sales figures from breweries and suppliers to predict trends.   He says he uses e-media and paper based media about equally.

Information and Communication Technologies

Dewi uses ICT a lot. He uses his I-phone constantly and spends up to two or three hours most days on the computer.This week he used a website to look what pubs were up for sale in the area, Google images to get some ideas for refurbishing the interior of the pub, MySpace and Facebook to advertise a music event, SMS to send reminders to all his customers that there was a beer festival. He also did his ordering on line, used Photoshop to produce some posters and menus and checked out some legal requirements relating to holiday pay for part time staff.

Sometimes he looks at job advertisements on websites of employment agencies specialising in hospitality trades but he says that is to keep an eye on wage rates.He could not think of a web site that he would find really useful that does not exist already and would not be interested in a website that was to provide ‘support’ for transitions as he says most information exists somewhere and finding out for yourself is part of learning.

“I can see where you are coming from - one-stop shop and all that – but you can’t spoon feed people for ever. Better that they stand on their own two feet and get on with it. I get really mad when I ask someone in work to go find some information on the web and they keep asking me where to look. How do I know – go work it out, it’s a skill you need in most jobs to survive”