Jess Dorward

Jess Dorward

Brand Manager / The 5TH, Co Owner /Tribute Boxing Fitness & Hunters Harvest

Brand ManagementBusiness Owner

Congratulations, you have reached the pointy end of the year, the past Term 3 abyss.  Girl, I know what some of you are thinking… How am I going to get through exams? What if I don’t remember my stuff, or maybe even… WTF am I going to do next year? (I remember that feeling, so vividly)

I’m sure that the majority of you have an inkling about what you are going to do next year, whether it be working full-time, Uni, travel, travel and more travel, but for those of you that don’t, this interview couldn’t have come at a better time.

Imagine being in a career class at school, and being asked to write down all of your areas of interest and coming up blank? Yilch, nothing, nudda!

That exact same thing happened to today’s #careerstory – Jess Dorward.  Eschewing all assumptions that you are nothing if you don’t go to Uni, Jess is the brains, smarts, and power behind the brand function over at The 5th and Co-Owner of not one but two businesses. Yes TWO businesses – Tribute Boxing and the most incredible healthy eatery in Melbourne’s west… Hunters Harvest.

Jess is a true example of diving in, figuring it out and then acting. Her approach to life, careers, and progression is bloody refreshing. From moving to the US, to how she got her job at The 5th, Jess has moved through life with grace, ferocity and a quest to stay true to herself. Needless to say that from this day forward I have Jess to thank for my new found love affair with Alex McBride, Stranger Things, and Alimentari

Girls, you do not want to miss this #careerstory, let’s dive in!

Ahhhh Jess, it’s so exciting to have you here. Let’s start at the very beginning. Where you grew up and how did that experience shape the person you are, and the career that you are in today?

I’m a Country girl originally. I grew up in a small town in East Gippsland called Maffra. As much as Melbourne is home for me now, I wouldn’t change my country upbringing for anything. It has kept me grounded and taught me that nothing comes without hard work. Coming from a small town where job prospects are limited, you have to work hard to get ahead.  A strong work ethic is key to becoming successful and my country roots taught me that. 

Wow, you truly are a country girl. So, let’s chat school. Where did you go to High School and how was that experience for you?

I went to High school at Catholic College in Sale. All in all, I loved school. Education aside, I learned a lot of life lessons which I still carry through with me today in adult life. If I could describe high school me, it would be the person that was friends with everyone.

Did your high school play an important role in helping you choose your further education and future career?

This is a tricky one as I was never lucky enough to know what I wanted to do as a career. I remember sitting in careers class and everyone was busy writing down what they wanted to study or, do as a job after high school but I always had a blank page.

I applied for a few university courses none of which my heart was really in and in the end, decided to take a gap year and work/travel. I knew so many people that went to university and had degrees in fields they never ended up using just for the sake of going to university. I didn’t want to do that.

I wanted to use my time and money wisely. I jumped straight into the corporate life after landing a job through a friend which led me to Melbourne.

That gap year last 7 years and my time there taught me more than any university could have.

Cali Vibes from The 5th

Did you complete any internships or work experience placements in high school? Tell us about that experience.

Ha! yes I did. Like most high school students, I did a stint at a Vet clinic as I thought that being a Veterinarian was my calling. It was not. I was too soft and didn’t have the stomach for that career path.

Ha! yes, I know of a few girlfriends that thought being a Vet was their calling. That is until they saw the Uni entrance scores. So, in the end, did you go to College, University, Tafe or another equivalent? Take us through the courses that you studied and why you chose them?

I didn’t pursue further studies after high school. I jumped straight into the corporate word and climbed the corporate ladder to take a senior job in Accounts Management for a large insurance firm. 

I was the youngest Account Manager they had ever had and thoroughly enjoyed my 7 years there. I have well and truly left the corporate world, now working for The 5TH as a Brand Manager and running my own businesses. 

The corporate experience at such a young age was crucial in shaping the way I work today. That being said, I am not in a rush to put a suit back on anytime soon!

Tell us about your career journey so far. Who you have worked for, and explain any highlights.

I left the corporate world to go live in the US for two years. My partner and I were based in Los Angeles where I dabbled in a few different roles mainly in the health and fitness industry, tried my hand in the fashion industry which I was certainly not cut out for (Imagine Miranda Priestly in the devil wears Prada) and also helped manage my partner’s sponsorships obligations and commitments (Professional athlete).

Landing a job at The 5TH was definitely a highlight as it was a brand that I had admired for such a long time. Also, opening Tribute was pretty amazing as well. It was the first business we opened and working for yourself is scary, but an exciting position to be in.

Thanks for going into such details Jess. Yep, it’s far to say that I am OBSESSED with The 5th, such an unreal business. can you dive into more details on how you got the job?

During a quick trip home from the states, I caught up with my friend Alex McBride who was doing amazing things as the founder of the 5TH and he offered me a role which I quickly snatched up.

The 5TH was a baby back then doing amazing things and I feel very privileged to have been a part of it since so early on.

My experience at the 5TH has taught me a whole new skill set that has been really helpful and transferable with running our gym Tribute and our restaurant Hunters Harvest.

What is the hardest part of your current role as the Brand Manager of The 5th and being a Co-Owner of 2 businesses?

I don’t find any specific area of my job ‘hard’ it just gets difficult at times managing work and trying to run two businesses. You have to use your time well in order to maximize your efficiency. Being organized is key here.

You have to use your time well in order to maximize your efficiency. Being organized is key here.

What does a day a typical business day look like for you?

The alarm goes off at 5.20am – straight to a gym session at Tribute. If I don’t work out in the morning, I never manage to find the time.

Off to work at The 5TH by 8.00am. Here I check emails and plan my day out which usually involves meetings with our Marketing Manager. At the moment we are working on our end of year magazine and scouting other brands we would like to collaborate with.

Lunch (favorite part of the day) is almost always at Alimentari in Collingwood and the afternoons are spent on PR and influencer partnerships.

Jess and her Partner Will with their crew at Tribute Boxing

Who has been your hero, or greatest inspiration growing up and why?

I draw a lot of inspiration from my partner Will. His work ethic and drive is like no other and he has shown me that if you apply yourself and work hard, REALLY HARD, good things will come.

What advice would you give girls who are interested in your career, or opening their own business in the future?

I think in terms of Brand Management I would say don’t be afraid to reach out to brands you love and admire and offer to do some work experience/internships. Prove your worth and they will offer you a role, showing initiative is very important in a competitive world.

In terms of opening your own business, I think you need to make sure you are passionate about what you are doing and look for gaps in the market and fill those voids.

We did that with both Tribute Boxing and Hunters Harvest and both have been received well as we are offering people something different.

Entrepreneur superstars, Jess and her partner Will. Pic Credit: Kate Shanasy for The Broadsheet

Pic Credit: Kate Shanasy for The Broadsheet

List your most valuable resources that you turn to constantly for inspiration in your profession?

  • Favourite Websites: Broadsheet, Melting Butter, Collective Hub,
  • Name an Instagram Account that you can’t go a day without checking: The 5TH and Tribute of course!
  • Favourite Podcast: Honestly I don’t have a heap of time for podcasts sadly…
  • Favourite Netflix Series: Stranger Things
  • Favourite all-time book/s: #girlboss Sophia Amoruso, Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
  • People: Alex McBride, Founder of the 5TH and my whole 5TH family really. They are always so supportive and nurturing and constantly inspire me to work harder and be the best version of me!
  • Others: Anyone that is hustling and having a crack. Breaking away from the ‘norm’ and creating your own thing – these are the people I gravitate towards.

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