Embarking on the entrepreneurial journey often involves unexpected twists, and for Australian business leaders, their diverse backgrounds reveal surprising jobs that laid the foundation for their success. In this exploration, we unveil 11 real jobs—from beekeeping to banking—that shaped thriving entrepreneurs in 2024. Each story sheds light on how these unconventional roles equipped individuals with skills crucial for entrepreneurship.

  1. Director of Engineering – Steven Michael Thomas:
  • Entrepreneurial Skills Acquired: Systematic thinking, Building for scale
  • Insight: Steven’s tech career prepared him for entrepreneurship by honing systematic thinking and scalability, essential for navigating the complexities of his chili crisp business, Super Magic Taste.
  1. Fashion Model – Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart:
  • Entrepreneurial Skills Acquired: Photography, Styling, Marketing
  • Insight: Transitioning from modeling to founding a sustainable clothing brand, Leanne leveraged her experience in casting and photoshoots, emphasizing the importance of diverse skills in the online marketing realm of fashion.
  1. Film Set Decorator – Sophia Pierro:
  • Entrepreneurial Skills Acquired: Sourcing, Curation, Networking
  • Insight: Sophia’s set decorating role laid the groundwork for her gift box business, Present Day Gifts, showcasing the significance of sourcing, curation, and networking in entrepreneurship.
  1. Social Development Case Worker – Gustavia Lui:
  • Entrepreneurial Skills Acquired: Listening, Customer service, Versatility, Problem solving
  • Insight: Gustavia’s role as a case worker equipped her with adaptability and problem-solving skills, crucial for thriving in her fashion brand, Staavias, and underlining the need to step out of one’s comfort zone in business.
  1. Financial Analyst – Melissa Butler:
  • Entrepreneurial Skills Acquired: Confidence, Financial literacy, Researching, Business development
  • Insight: Melissa’s finance background provided her with confidence and financial literacy, propelling her transition from Wall Street to launching The Lip Bar, emphasizing the role of confidence in entrepreneurial resilience.
  1. Beekeeper – Simon Cavill:
  • Entrepreneurial Skills Acquired: Patience, Perseverance
  • Insight: Simon’s beekeeping experience taught him patience and perseverance, pivotal elements for the success of his skincare business, Bee Good, reinforcing the notion that dedication leads to eventual success.
  1. Army Colonel – Carl Churchill:
  • Entrepreneurial Skills Acquired: Teamwork, Thriving under pressure, Finding perspective
  • Insight: Carl’s military background instilled teamwork and the ability to thrive under pressure, guiding him in founding Alpha Coffee after facing a financial ambush during the recession.
  1. Brand Marketing Manager – Diane Danforth:
  • Entrepreneurial Skills Acquired: Branding, Networking, Negotiation, Communication, Forecasting
  • Insight: Diane’s diverse career in banking and healthcare marketing provided her with a comprehensive skill set essential for running her pet products business, Pawdentify, highlighting the need for a multifaceted understanding of business dynamics.
  1. Social Media Influencer – Bryan Reisberg:
  • Entrepreneurial Skills Acquired: Audience building, Content creation, Social listening
  • Insight: Bryan’s journey from Instagram to founding Little Chonk showcased the power of authentic audience building and social listening, emphasizing the importance of connecting with communities in entrepreneurial ventures.
  1. Broadcasting Script Editor – Virginia Sorrells:

Entrepreneurial Skills Acquired: Storytelling, Strategy, Goal setting, Audience building

Insight: Virginia’s script editing expertise translated into storytelling skills, offering a unique perspective when running her communications agency, Virginia Sorrells Communications, underlining the importance of concise and compelling narratives.

  1. Zookeeper – Taylor Scarboro:

Entrepreneurial Skills Acquired: Multitasking, Juggling irregular hours, Customer service

Insight: Taylor’s experience as a zookeeper equipped her with multitasking and customer service skills, aiding her transition into entrepreneurship, where a similar working style is invaluable.


The unexpected jobs that preceded these entrepreneurs’ leap into business ownership underscore the diverse skill set needed for success. Australian entrepreneurs are more prepared than they think, as every skill learned, challenge faced, and connection made contributes to their entrepreneurial toolbox. The lesson resonates: make the most of your career before transitioning, as the accumulated knowledge and network might be the key to creating your dream job.


May 2024


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