Jake Black is everyone’s mate but mostly he’s Your Mates

University of the Sunshine Coast
By the time Jake Black was rejected from his eighth job interview, he was starting to feel despondent – a difficult scenario to imagine now he’s working in one of the most coveted sales jobs going around just a few years later.

But when the UniSC Business graduate walked through the doors at Your Mates Brewing in 2018, it was a very different business.

The founding owners had just moved into their new premise in the Warana industrial precinct – a milestone moment that had seen them transition from gypsy brewers to a full-fledged professional brewery with a bar area.

The two owners, Matt Hepburn and Christen McGarry, were rapidly expanding – it was time to hire a full-time sales rep.

Enter Jake, who was fresh out of university, with some limited experience working in sales for commercial radio. He enjoyed beer but had limited knowledge about the industry.

On paper, he looked like an underdog for the position. But what Jake believes got him over the line wasn’t his experience or industry knowledge – it was personality.

“I think I have a lot of similar interests and personality traits to the owners,” Jake says. “It just seemed like a good fit.”

“Anybody in sales has to be personable. It’s not just about the product you’re selling – it has to do with the person selling it, because if you don’t like somebody, you’re not going to want to deal with them.”

UniSC senior lecturer Dr David Fleischman says business is just as much about good relationships as it is about developing products, services and understanding market conditions.

“Business and Marketing is a broad and diverse area of study – we have small class sizes so we’re able to work closely with our students to give them the foundational skills, knowledge and resources they need to succeed but the rest is up to them,” Dr Fleischman says.

“Much of it relies on establishing strong networks and creating your own opportunities – such as Jake has done.”

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There’s more to Jake than an easy-going personality – he doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty. When he started at Your Mates, the core team was still small – he was one of about six staff – so he was often working well beyond his job role.

“When we moved in, I was literally scraping the old resin off the ground from the previous people who had shed,” he says.

“I’d be out delivering beer. I’d jump behind the bar when they were short. I’d clean the bathrooms – anything I could do to help.”

Only a few years have passed since then, but the business has expanded exponentially in almost every way possible: sales, production, range, staff, distribution. All of it.

A major turning point was COVID. While many in the hospitality industry struggled to keep operating through those tumultuous and often devastating years, Your Mates saw their business increase.

They’ve now grown so much, the crew recently took over the large shed next door – another milestone moment for the business – growing their production capacity from 1 million litres to 5 million litres through an $8 million expansion.

Jake’s role has changed too, moving from sales to community events manager – an opportunity that Jake made for himself.

“I got hired to be a sales rep,” Jake says. “But what I’ve always really wanted to do is work in the event space.

“There wasn’t enough money in the business for me to go full time in events when I started so I worked across both roles until the events side was able to stand on its own two feet.”

Sitting upstairs on an old lounge chair in the new Your Mates space, Jake is asked for advice he would pass onto other Business students or new graduates.

“Stick it out,” he says. “It wasn’t until I applied for my ninth full-time position as a sales rep that I actually got the job. That was in commercial radio.

“Before that, I was getting a bit stressed. But there are so many people applying for those jobs – you just have to keep going.

“At the end of the day, if you’re persistent enough, the right job will turn up for you. You just have to keep putting yourself out there as best you can.”

Bachelor of Business

Business graduates are in high demand worldwide. Come find out why our Business graduates tend to have higher starting salaries than average.

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