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How I got here: Peter Skudutis, general manager at Zero Gravity

How I got here: Peter Skudutis, general manager at Zero Gravity

Skudutis details his journey from Billanook College in Australia to managing some of Dubai’s most famous bars

Education

I was lucky to attend Billanook College in Australia, which put a strong emphasis on subjects related to my industry today, including viticulture, business studies, culinary and business law. Right at the end of my high school days, at the age of 17, I was awarded a full scholarship to attend Academy Sofitel Melbourne. This was a great base programme that took me through all of the aspects of the hotel and hospitality industry including finance, administration, marketing, food and beverage and culinary. I had to attend my training through every department of the hotel before being awarded with an advanced diploma in hospitality management. Now, I treat education very much as an everyday necessity.

My start

I was bought up in and around a hospitality family business, in Kenloch, Melbourne, where we would host upwards of six weddings a weekend as a busy fine dining restaurant operation. From a very young age I was exposed to a high volume business environment. I was 13 years old when I first started to work at the weekend as a humble parking attendant and spent a lot of time in the kitchen with the chefs learning about food. Following hotel school, I jumped in my car and drove north to an Australian coastal town called Coffs Harbour, where I quickly rose through the ranks to become an F&B manager at only 19 years old. I remain thankful to the trust the GM showed in me at such a young age. From there I took on a role as director of F&B at an island resort in the Fiji Islands, before moving to Dubai to take the helm at Barasti. After a few years, I was approached by the Habtoor group to run a new hospitality division for them, which included the opening of XL Beach Club, Andreas Restaurant, Summer Place restaurant and the on-going business of Horizon Lounge. Zero Gravity came up in a conversation one day, it was explained that the venue would be an expansive restaurant by the sea. Once I had visited the sight, I immediately saw the great potential it held and the rest is history.

Approach

I treat every day in a tenacious manner, and I encourage others around me to dream big every day. I know that we can choose to do anything in life; we just need to set our minds to it. Never stop searching for opportunity and never stop learning – I find learning to be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding things we can do. I am currently attending a course in graphic design at the SAE institute of Dubai, taking an online course in entrepreneurial studies through HarvardX and reading business related books religiously.

Highs and lows

Meeting my beautiful wife during my time at Barasti was a high, but career-wise the highs have been my scholarship to hotel school, enjoying the abundant opportunities in Dubai and winning awards for Zero Gravity. I’m very proud to be the first to hold regular events on the beach in Dubai and as a result seeing the continued success of Barasti, XL Beach Club and Zero Gravity. Project management and the opening of the pool at Zero Gravity was also a huge achievement, as is the continued success of our day to night beach festivals with DXBeach and One Big Friday. With highs, there area a few lows. Sometimes it is hard to sell the dream to all stakeholders, partners, colleagues and others. People sometimes find it hard to envisage until it has happened which makes the journey both more challenging and more rewarding.

Dos and don’ts

In the hospitality industry you must always look to provide value to your guests – focus on people both internal and external. Always act with complete integrity. Get stuff done and move on. Innovate daily and recognise high performers and celebrate success. Don’t become complacent – there is always room for improvement. My personal ‘dos’ are to learn daily, help others in any way possible, treat others with respect and integrity and allow time for family and loved ones. Don’t burn bridges and don’t waste time on the things that do not matter – move on instead.

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