How to Nail a Career Change: Richard, Young Henry’s Brewery

by Maddison Costello
Posted: September 16, 2015

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Thinking of making a radical career change? It’s never too late to follow your passion and transform it into a successful business. Richard Adamson, co-founder of Young Henry’s Brewery, shares his career-change success story. 

Perhaps you’ve lost interest in your field, your job isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, or you think you’ve got a winning business idea. Whatever the reason may be, you’re not alone: at any given moment, thousands of Australians are seeking a career change at 30, 40, 50, and beyond, and many are turning their pursuits into inspiring success stories. 

Richard Adamson, head brewer and co-founder of Young Henry’s (a prizewinning Newtown-based brewery that’s taking Australia by storm), walked out on a career in IT to pursue his interest in craft beer. Read on as he shares his experiences, challenges and tips for those looking to make a change. 

Taking the plunge

“I had been through the dot-com boom and bust and lost any passion for IT. I had fallen into a career that I had no formal education in, and the industry had lost a lot of its appeal.

I did find the start-up phase of a company exciting and was naïve enough not to be daunted by the risk. At the same time, I had seen the rise of craft beer in the US and the UK and was impressed by the nascent industry here in Australia around 2004 and its inclusive DIY culture. It looked like the right time to get into the market.”

Follow your instincts; find your people

“I was involved in Barons Brewing [a now-defunct independent Sydney brewery] from 2005 to 2009 and had made the decision to pursue a different direction.

I wanted to be in touch with all facets of the brewing process and build a community around the brewery. The initial steps were to find the right people to start the company with, form a business plan, raise money, find a site and start building. That took 18 months!”

Don’t give up at the first hurdle    

The main challenges we faced were regulatory. There is a lot of red tape to deal with when setting up a brewery.

This extends to building zoning, council permissions, liquor licences, police, excise licences and trade waste. Our landlord took the DA for our first chosen site to the Land and Environment Court. He lost, which set us back by at least eight months.”

Remember that passion is contagious

“I was stunned by the passion our project generated in the general public before the first drop of beer was produced. People were either dead-set against us or went above and beyond to support us. Fortunately, now most people just enjoy what we do.

You never really rest on your laurels or think, ‘we’ve made it’, but we knew we were in with a chance when we sold out of growlers the first day we opened the tasting bar. We had to close at midday.

I think we’ve managed to create a community around our values and ideals. People intrinsically get what we are about and we are able to express our values through working with the people that inspire us in the music, arts, food and cultural spheres.”

Never stop planning and creating

“We have around 25 full-time and part-time staff now. We have a team of really smart, enthusiastic, and talented people across the company who share the vision.

We are always seeking to improve our brewing process and the quality of our beer and cider. We have been working really hard to increase production and make our beer better and more consistent. We launched our beer in cans this year and are looking to get them into the hands of as many people as possible.

We also launched our first product from our brand-new still, the Noble Cut Gin. We have been tweaking our recipe and distilling process, and each batch is getting better and better. We also have a range of limited-release and new spirit projects planned. Keep a look out!”


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Maddison Costello

Maddison Costello

Is an online journalist with a particular interest in fashion, lifestyle, travel and food. Her work has appeared in Qantas Travel Insider, Dubai Tourism and InStyle Magazine. Maddison currently works at Bauer Media Australia and has previously worked for CLRI (NSW), Nine Network Australia and The Intermedia Group Pty Ltd.

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