Sam began his career within the graduate development program with Commonwealth Bank and spent the next 13 years in various roles in their Newcastle, Sydney and Indonesia offices, with a focus on business relationships. Sam is a graduate of the University of Newcastle with a Bachelor of Commerce and is currently a member of the Newcastle Business Club committee.
During his career, Sam has always noticed a difference in the ability of small businesses to be more agile and responsive in their approach, and since starting with Matthews Jewellers has realised that there is a clear differentiating factor for privately owned businesses too.
Sam and his team pride themselves on offering the widest range of diamonds in the Hunter and bringing your dream piece to life with their custom design process.
- What career path led you to where you are now?
Yeah, sure. So I started … I’m a Newcastle Uni grad, and I started my career with CBA. So that was back in 2005 as a grad on the CBA grad program. And then I actually spent about 13 years working for Commonwealth Bank both here in Australia and also overseas.
So I have the opportunity to work in about seven different areas of the bank, two different countries, and also three different cities. So it was a pretty good experience being with the bank for that long.
I really recommend for people if they’re thinking about an international experience to really go out and do that. It was just fantastic for me both professionally and also personally. So that was a great experience and it exposes you to a lot of things that you probably don’t get at home, so that was really quite great.
So yeah, most recently after we got out of Indonesia we moved back to Sydney and spent a few years working there, and then an opportunity came up to come and live in Newcastle and work for Comm Bank here and had the opportunity to work with a number of businesses here in the business banking division of Newcastle. So that was really great.
Most recently I’ve joined our family business, which is Matthews Jewellers, so my folks have been running a really successful business for the last 40 years throughout the Hunter. And so when that opportunity came up that was really quite exciting.
My role there is an area manager within the business, so our stores are in Newcastle; we have a store at Charlestown Square and Westfield Kotara as well as in Singleton and Salamander Bay. So I spend my time working with the teams across those four stores, looking at how we can deliver really good products and really great service to our customers each day.
- What motivates and drives you?
Yeah, I’ve really find that working on new things, learning new things is really a key motivator for me. I really like working with people, so I like to surround myself with the team and try and find new ways to do things better or different within the business.
So coming into a family business is a really interesting experience for us, because there is a lot of things that we can be … that we can look at lots of good opportunities there, so yeah, working across those sorts of things is sort of what gets me out of bed in the morning.
- What has been your biggest learning curve in your career?
I would say learning to trust your guts is probably the biggest one that I’ve learnt in my career. So I’ve worked a lot of my career especially when I was with CBA in using a lot of data and a lot of analytics to sort of drive decisions.
I worked on a lot of project roles and strategy roles that required that. And some of the best advice I’ve had along the way is just to sort of trust your gut feeling and then really honing on what that is telling you, whether it’s good or whether it’s bad.
Trying to explore that, and then use the data to sort of back it up. So I’ve found that that’s been really sort of helpful for me in my career.
- Where would you like to be in 10 years?
Definitely here in Newcastle. My wife and I have a young son, he’s name is Max, who’s almost two, so I think Newcastle’s an awesome place to raise a young family, so really definitely keen to stay here.
As you would know that Newcastle’s been through a pretty huge transformation in the last 10 or 15 years, and that’s only going to continue, so I think it presents really great opportunities for people in business and in 10 years time, and hopefully we’ll be running a really successful business with Matthews Jewels, and continuing the trend that my folks have set.
- Have you had any significant Hunter-based mentors during your career that inspire you?
Yeah, I’ve had a number of different mentors. The two or the three that really springs to mind firstly is my parents; they’re both really successful business people in their own right.
So throughout my career I’ve always been able to talk to them about different things that have been happening and they’ve always had really, really good advice.
And more recently I’ve had the opportunity to work with Colin Law who’s an executive here in the Newcastle for Comm Bank. A lot of people know Colin around the town and it was a really great experience to work for Colin during that period of time. And he has a really strong sense for doing what’s right, and he’s really focused on how does he help and drive the business community. So I learn a lot from him. So yeah, they’re probably my three good mentors that I’ve had.